The culture of old tea house in Sichuan
As the hometown of tea, China owns a profound, continuous and time-honoured culture of tea. It is blended with the ideas of Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism. It especially presents the Confucian ideas of being clear, optimistic, warmhearted, kind and tolerate. And on the land of historical Sichuan, it bears a unique branch of Chinese tea culture – the Sichuan tea culture.
In Chengdu, tea culture has developed into the Sichuan-featured Tea House Culture. There is a saying about Sichuan tea house: you could see more tea houses than sunny days. Why the tea houses in Chengdu can catch so much eyesight? It is because its abundant functions: for relaxing, meetings, recreation, as well as being the court of civilians.
Chengdu people love tea houses, because they love 摆龙门阵 (bai lóng mén zhèn, means chatting, gossiping). They will gather together in a crowded tea house, drink tea when chatting. At leisure time, have a cup of tea and pastries, watch actors performing traditional arts, talk and laugh with people in the tea house, these could be true joy of life.
Except for relaxing, Chengdu tea houses are also important social places. In old society, people from different fields and communities gathered in tea houses for business negotiation or trading. Even local gangdoms traded firearms and opium there. Pao Ge (袍哥会, a civil group in Sichuan) set their Matou (码头), a meeting for the group and other people) in tea house. Often, tea houses also have restaurant and hotels. During school holidays, it became a place for searching teachers. We can say that all sorts of occupations regards tea house as a good place for meetings. Thus Chengdu tea house was a mirror of the social life in the city.