Tea for Four in Old Shanghai
Old Shanghai Teahouse (Shanghai, China)
Member Name: Praskipark
Old Shanghai Teahouse (Shanghai, China)
Advantages: Atmospheric building, excellent food, calm atmosphere
On our last day in Shanghai in June of this year our hosts, Mr Wang and Viva Du offered to take us to the airport but before doing so they wanted to take us to a traditional Chinese tea house. There are many tea houses in Shanghai but this particular one situated in the Old Town on Middle Fangbang Road is ancient and considered to be one of the best.
The building the tea house is situated in looks slightly run down from the exterior and there was work being carried out on the front façade so we had to be careful when stepping over the huge stone step to reach the lift to take us all to the second floor of the building. I expected the tea house to be crowded and was surprised at how few people were sat drinking tea and eating.
I could hear Chinese singing voices and the melodious sounds of traditional Chinese instruments being played. Escorted into the heart of the tea house by the head waiter we were then given a table in front of a small stage where a lady and gentleman dressed in traditional clothing were performing a Chinese Opera. Sadly, we came into the tea house at the end of the show so only caught a few seconds of this entertainment.
The atmosphere in the ancient building was one of peace and tranquility. Tinkling sounds of water droplets falling into rivulets behind our table was a wonderful sound. Looking behind me I saw carp and other fish swimming gently amongst orange and white lilies.
The décor was heavy with dark blue walls and heavy carved wooden furniture featuring Chinese vases and other ornaments. Items from the 1930s were hidden in corners; old typewriters, sewing machines and old fans. I loved the stone lions that guarded the entrance. This is a sign of Good Luck.
We were given a tea menu written in Chinese with the English equivalent underneath. Choosing a tea was a difficult task as the selection was so extensive. I had tried Jasmine tea in the hotel and enjoyed it so decided to try it again. My husband was going to have black tea but because he had been suffering from a cold and sore throat over the last few days one of our hosts advised him to try chrysanthemum tea. She said this would help as black tea makes you perspire too much. He took her advice.
The food buffet was situated in another room near to the entrance. A selection of hot and cold dishes were on display; sweet and sour pork, chicken neck and wings, fried zucchini, shitake mushrooms, egg fried rice, noodles. There was plenty of fresh fruit to choose from like melon, grapes, papaya, figs, apple, banana and apricots. The etiquette is to take one large plate for hot food and smaller wooden bowls for fruit.
Different teas are served in glass mugs and an extra jug/flask of hot water is placed on the table for re-fills. These are fresh leaf teas and the taste is very strong. My husband's chrysanthemum tea was very attractive to look at with white and orange flower heads floating around in the clear hot water.
The food was absolutely delicious. I chose sweet and sour pork with a side portion of fried zucchini, noodles and fried rice. My fruit selection consisted of apricots, grapes and sliced melon.
After we had finished eating we talked for a long time and then had the last glass of tea. We raised our glasses with a toast for a bright and prosperous year. Time passed so quickly and soon it was time to leave for Pudong International Airport. I enjoyed our visit to the Old Shanghai Tea House and wished we had found it during our stay before the last day. We will definitely visit again in October on our return to the city.
I can't tell you how much the meal cost because as soon as the bill came our hosts went and paid immediately.
You can find The Old Shanghai Tea House at 385, Middle Fangbang Road.
Metro stop, YuYuan Garden
Summary: A very old tea house serving delicious leaf teas and good food