Tea Shop in Lhasa

We still had some free time before meeting back with the tour group for our night out in Lhasa New Town, so we decided to wander Old Town for a while. Yi wanted to drink tea so we went into one of the small tea shops that are almost invisible in the streets of Old Town.

The shop was small with several tables and benches were people were pouring tea out of thermos flasks into various styles of small cups. There was no room here so we made our way up to the first floor and found an empty table. Yi went downstairs to get some tea while I saved the table. While I was waiting a Tibetan family came up the stairs and sat at my table. I felt a little uncomfortable, but I just tried to ignore the stares I was getting.

In some parts of China white people aren’t common, so people get excited when they see a white person. They often respond by staring, saying “Hello!” and waving, asking for a photo, and sometimes by simply sneaking a photograph. Yi came back up with a Thermos and two cups and poured tea for us both. I was a little more relaxed having someone to talk to. It was then I noticed that the younger man sat opposite me was sneaking a photo of me and the older man who sat next to me.

Local Tibetan Friend
Local Tibetan Friend

Of course I responded by posing for the camera. After that we tried to talk, but it turned out that these guys couldn’t even speak Mandarin. So we just enjoyed tea together while the older man showed me all the pictures he had managed to gather of white people in Lhasa. It seemed that collecting pictures of white folk was a hobby of his.

After an hour or so of hand talking, nodding and pouring each other tea we finally had to leave. We waved goodbye and headed out to experience the wonders of a night out in a Chinese night club.

Tea House: The Best Hangover Cure

For some reason I’ve been very un-British and never actually visited a single Tea House in China (despite having been here more than a year), but today it was time to break that streak.

After a good night out in Beijing were I lost my shoes, we decided to nurse our hangovers by drinking lots of tea. Being in Beijing, it was obvious we had to visit a tea house. Yi had spotted one she wanted to go to the day before, so we hopped into a taxi and headed out to start our day.

First we went to a shop next door and bought a cheap pair of shoes very common in China (they’re basically like pumps), then we went to the Tea House. After sitting down we ordered ourselves some jasmine tea.

Jasmine is a flower used to brew tea in northern China. You place the closed bulb in a cup and pour hot water over it. As it brews the flower will open up. It tastes really nice, and is good for getting over a hangover if you happened to have gotten a little drunk the night before…

I also ordered some mutton ribs, which were served in the style of Peking Duck. There was plenty of meat and fat to suck off the bone, and a couple of spicy sauces to dip it in. I would have preferred spicier stuff, but was definitely a good way to start the day on a hangover.

We chilled out for a while, slowly drinking our tea and topping it up with more hot water. Eventually I could feel the effects of the previous night wearing off. Eventually, the flavour of the jasmine flower was drained, so we paid our way and went for one last short trip before leaving Beijing.