Teahouse Waiter’s Joyful life at Quianmen Gate

Entering the Laoshe Teahouse, visitors find themselves back in the old times with sonorous welcome from waiters wearing skullcaps and long gowns.

Teahouse

Contributing Writer
Wang Bin
Near Qianmen Street in Beijing, the Laoshe Teahouse is rather eye-catching with its yellow sign bearing three red characters –“Big Bowl Tea.” Coarse porcelain bowls with a blue brim and the unchanging flavor of jasmine tea — big bowl tea, with its unique style, not only fascinates Beijing natives but also attracts tourists, even from overseas.

Lao She, a famous Chinese writer, said, “A big teahouse is a small society.” In the first half of the last century, teahouses were to Beijingers what cafes are to Parisians. Spending time in a teahouse is a life style of old Beijingers. With the passing of half a century, Beijingers have more choices for recreation and entertainment. Teahouses, no longer “hot spots” among the residents, can be seen here and there in streets and lanes, with their old culture well preserved. The Laoshe Teahouse, named after the writer, is a well-known one, where customers enjoy traditional Chinese folk arts, like cross-talk and story-telling in Beijing dialect with drum accompaniment. It is like being in a museum of Beijing folklore.

1. The old culture of teahouse is well preserred in Laoshe teahouse with the classical furnishings. 2. “Welcome to our teahouse.”
1. The old culture of teahouse is well preserred in Laoshe teahouse with the classical furnishings. 2. “Welcome to our teahouse.”

Entering the Laoshe Teahouse, visitors find themselves back in the old times with sonorous welcome from waiters wearing skullcaps and long gowns.

Wang Xiaopeng, 23, is a waiter in the teahouse. Besides his daily routines of setting tables, serving tea and adding water, he has a specialty — pouring tea from a long-necked kettle. He enjoys his work, though it is not easy. Not long ago, he and his colleagues performed the specialty during the “Week of Beijing” at Shanghai World Expo. Their performance won enthusiastic acclaim from domestic and foreign visitors there.

Teahouse
Wang Xiaopeng also trains his apprentice on longnecked kettle performance. Look, how serious he is as an instructor.

As to the career choice, Wang said it was purely “accidental.” Four years ago, he came to Beijing and found a job in the teahouse kitchen. “One day, I happened to see the tea ceremony performance, took to i t immediately and began learning the skill.” He trained diligently no matter how bad the weather was. He said he had to practice outdoors because the performance required a larger space. In the coldest days, the temperature could drop below zero degrees Celsius. The hot tea even turned to ice in the kettle. But he used bare hands and wore only light clothes. Finally, hard work paid o and he is now skilled with the copper kettle. For him, a teahouse is like a long-necked kettle — “The long-necked kettle renders the stream thin and long, which helps bring out the tea flavor. The strong smell of tea is always reminiscent of those good old days,” he said.

More about chinese tea culture in ConfuciusMag:


Confucius Institute Magazine 11

Published in Confucius Institute Magazine.
Number 11. Volume VI. November 2010.

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