CITY GUIDE >City Special
Brewing culture
By Ye Jun,Wang Yuanzheng (China Daily)
Updated: 2009-10-24 11:31

Brewing culture

For Taozi, aka Ms Peach, the opening of her own teahouse is a dream come true.

And the same holds true for tea lovers, too, because this is a woman who knows the ins and outs of Chinese tea and how to introduce it to lay drinkers.

The owner of Imperial Farmhouse (御品阁茶苑) is licensed by the Chinese Ministry of Labor as both a professional chayishi (tea ceremony performer) and a pingchayuan (tea judge).

Taozi is a total perfectionist when it comes to the country's beverage of choice, so it took her half a year to prepare Imperial Farmhouse's opening.

She has arranged a full set of typical teas from every category - green, oolong, black, dark-black and pu'er. Guizhou's "emerald sprout" (贵湄翠芽), or Henan's "furry tip" (信阳毛尖) teas cost 38 yuan per person. Each guest gets one cup that can be refilled up to six times.

West Lake "dragon well" and Dongting Lake "emerald spring spiral" teas cost 58 yuan and 68 yuan per person.

Pots of famous green teas each cost from 188 to 288 yuan and serve up to five people.

The teahouse offers a full set of oolong from southern and northern Fujian, Guangdong and Taiwan. Representative varieties include tieguanyin (铁观音, iron goddess of mercy), dahongpao (大红袍, bright red gown), fenghuang dancong (凤凰单枞, phoenix single tree) and dongfangmeiren (东方美人, eastern beauty).

Tieguanyin and fenghuang dancong are known for their floral aromas and exquisite flavors. Dahongpao is an old tea lovers' favorite because of its powerful taste and the strong sensation it creates on the palate. Taiwan's eastern beauty offers a diversity of floral fragrances. These oolong teas are available by the cup or by the pot.

Imperial Farmhouse offers typical Chinese black teas from Fujian, Yunnan, Anhui and Jiangsu's Yixing.

It has prepared set menus of tea tasting options arranged according to different varieties' health benefits, starting from 1,080 yuan. These allow drinkers to sample four or five different teas in one sitting.

Top-end consumers can try Jinjunmei (金骏梅, golden brown plum flower), a Fujian black tea that has recently become popular. Or they can sip northern Fujian's best oolong, or "rock tea" (岩茶), known for its strong aroma and flavor.

The teahouse is located inside the east gate of Xiannongtan, a 600-year-old cultural site under State-level protection.

Xiannongtan, or "ancestors' farming altar", was built in 1420, during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). It was where Ming and Qing emperors sacrificed to the God of Agriculture and farmed with their ministers as part of an important ceremony.

The facility has been renovated into an athletic training center.

The teahouse has four private rooms and an outdoor garden. Each private room is uniquely decorated with traditional square tables and carved wooden chairs, comfortable bamboo sofas and imperial-style beds.

Daily 9 am-1 am. East gate of Xinnongtan, Yongdingmennei Dajie, northwest of Yongdingmen Bridge on South Second Ring Road. 6301-1612 先农坛东门,永定门内大街,南二环永定门桥西北角