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
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
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.