The Mother of all Tea Shops: Shanghai's tea wholesale center.
Ok, if you're partial to coffee and nothing else, don't bother.
But if you have half an interest in The Leaf, come and sit down for a tasting at one of the many shops here.
Tian Shan Tea City is a Mecca for tea connoisseurs- and great fun for anybody who wants to know more about the world's most popular beverage (after water) in all its shapes and forms. And the prices are great, too!
On the Western side of the Zhongshan ring road. Map.
TEA WAS 'INVENTED' in China. And although masses of Camelia Sinensis are now grown elsewhere (including Kenya- see our piece here), nobody grows more of the stuff than the Chinese, who gulp it down in absurd quantities and take it with them wherever they go. (Those Chinese tourists carrying transparent jars with what looks like an out-of-control fungus? Yup, that's tea.)
On a recent visit to some of Shanghai's contemporary cafes and bars Minor Sights was appalled to be served bags of Sri Lankan tea and even Lipton (gasp!) There are always people who believe that progress and modernity means serving inferior foreign goods at inflated prices. Sigh...
But your average Chinese turns up their nose at the thought of using a tea bag. Tea means loose leaves, and there is no better place to buy them than a good old Chinese tea shop. Or 150 good old Chinese tea shops.
Tian Shan Tea City is a wholesale center of more than 150 small shops where you can buy loose tea in bulk for your restaurant or business. And if you're not a Chinese restaurateur- no worries, the minimum quantity for sale is typically 50g- which lasts a tea fiend like me about a week.
|Enter at your own risk- your bladder will burst by the time you're done.|
|This is the ground floor- two more to go.|
|Starbucks hasn't made its way in yet.|
|Ssssh! Tasting in progress!|
|Three cups of (Longjing) tea.|
|Classy Tie Guan Yin: the Dom Perignon of Chinese tea.|
|My tea is hunky dory!|
|Pu-erh: that subtle flavour of dried mud and decomposing earth.|
|It's all in the leaves.|
A taxi from the People's Square area will set you back about 20 RMB. Here's the address in Chinese. If you'd rather save your money for tea, take the green metro line 2 to Zhongshan Park and walk for about 10 minutes.
The Silence in Tea