Ancient tea house closed for facelift

(Shanghai Delta)
Updated: 2006-11-28 17:39

The "First Tea House in Jiang Nan" recently closed for refurbishment. It is estimated to re-open some time next year.

It is located in Zhujiajiao, a rural area of Shanghai's Qingpu District, and was built at the end of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). The building is over 100 years old.

This wooden tea house is known as the "tea house club" by most locals as it is seen as a place to chat and socialize with other people. Another nickname is rather interesting - "office of a hundred tongues" - because on mornings in the past, local fishermen, farmers and craftsmen often gathered there to exchange all kinds of news and views on local issues.

The tea house was also a theatre in the past. Peking opera, Yueju opera and Chinese traditional talk shows could often be enjoyed on a big platform in the middle of the tea house. The building covers an area of 28.5 square metres, but is rather narrow.

On the second floor, several boxes were installed for those who wanted to watch the special performances but did not want to sit in the narrow hall among the crowd.

After it was built, every morning people
came here for morning tea at about 8 am before going out to work. When dusk came, those same people would return to enjoy more tea and to learn the latest gossip.

Over time this tea house became a valuable news centre for local people and for those who were in Zhujiajiao for the first time; pretty much anything they wanted to know could be found out by spending a few days there.

It is said that many renowned people,such as modern writers San Mao, Jin Yong and the last emperor of the Qing Dynasty Pu Yi, were visitors to the tea house.

The refurbished tea house will be installed with modern fire-extinguishing devices as it is a wooden building. The large areas of wood have in part prompted the refurbishment, as some of the structure has been damaged by moths.

Shanghai Zhujiajiao Investing and Developing Company, the firm behind the project, plans to replace some parts of the building with other materials, such as steel and concrete. But the company stressed the tea house will still retain its original structure.

Also, according to the project plans, the tea house will have a restaurant area for tourists and locals, but will still open early in the morning for tea-and all that important.


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