I didn’t come all the way to China just for a good old cuppa, but while enjoying the Chengdu Peoples’ Park, I discovered the quaint old Heming Teahouse, which is a great place to experience local culture and cuisine alike!
There is a famous saying: “Tea Houses in Sichuan rank first in all the world, whereas Tea Houses in Chengdu rank first in all of Sichuan”. It should come as no surprise, then, to learn that Chengdu means far more than just panda territory!
There is a great sense of community and camaraderie right throughout the People’s Park, as well as light jogging and boating on the lake, mah-jong is known to be a major pastime of the local Chengduites. I don’t know how to play this game, but it was fascinating to look on see the concentrated faces of the old boys who were enjoying their game!
Tea has also always played a very important role in the lives of the Sichuan locals, and Heming Tea House, in particular, is not there for them to just sip on a good old cup of Maofeng. Rather, it’s a place for social gatherings, people-watching, and indulging in a bit of a juicy gossip! The elder Chengduites seem to spend all day here, many of whom I did not even see move during my time here – presumably they were still alive! They were, in all seriousness, too busy playing cards, dominoes, and watching TV. It’s like a huge social club INSIDE a tea house!
I spent a good hour or so looking around the Heming Tea House in the People’s Park. It was time well spent. Unlike some parts of China (Beijing and Shanghai, I am looking at you!), there is room to breathe in Chengdu. Yes, it’s touristy, but not on a major scale, and certainly no worse than places in South East Asia like Bangkok or Hanoi. The People’s Park and the tea houses within were an amazing opportunity for me to experience local life over a good cuppa before moving on to other more “exciting” tourist attractions in the vicinity. The small tables and bamboo chairs, surrounded by the inimitable aroma of fresh tea being brewed in copper kettles, will stay with me for a long time.