Tea in Yangshuo – The Seven Star Tea House
Annie Zhou, owner of the Seven Star Tea HouseIf you spend time in Yangshuo, you may want to find out more about tea in Yangshuo. At some point you will want to visit the Seven Star Tea House on Diecui Road, up near the bus station. The tea house is run by owner Annie Zhou who has lived in Yangshuo for over twenty years and really does know everyone in town.
Opened in 2004 the tea house cover two floors with a tea shop downstairs and a seated, air conditioned tea rooms upstairs serving everything from soft drinks to snacks and of course tea. With her team of specially trained staff she will make you feel welcome and introduce you to the distinctively Chinese business of drinking tea in Yangshuo.
A unique feature of the Seven Stars Tea House is that is the only tea house in Yangshuo with its own tea plantation. Annie’s family got involved with the tea business after her brother saw that as people’s lives were improving the popularity of tea drinking was growing. Where as twenty years ago the people would not have been able to afford good quality teas now things had changed and the quality of life had improved.
Seeing an opportunity to invest, in 2000 her family started to plant tea trees on a mountain close to her village, Jiaobalin near Yangshuo in Guangxi province. Now the Seven Stars Tea Plantation covers 40 hectares of mountainside and produces over 40 tons of the finest quality organic green tea.
Tea in Yangshuo: Tea Plantation in the Yangshuo area
In 2009 their tea, Cuiyu Green Tea won the Guangxi Special prize at a tea tasting competition, rather like a wine tasting but better for you perhaps. The Cuiyu Green Tea, noted for its clear green color and fragrant taste of chestnuts and fresh corn is exported across China to hotels and tea houses. You can even try it in Prague at!
Tea has always been an important part of Chinese way of life. The making of tea is called Chá Dào, literally meaning “tea brewed with great skill” and the art of brewing and serving tea plays a major cultural role in China. It is a time to unwind and socialise with friends while enjoying the smell and taste of fine quality teas.
Tea drinking plays a part in pretty much all social occasions and when someone pours you a cup of tea this is seen as a sign of respect. It is even said in China that when you see someone on the street, before you even say “hello” you say “have you had tea yet”?
Tea is credited as being first discovered by the Chinese Emperor Shennong in 2737 BC. It is said that the emperor liked his drinking water boiled before he drank it so it would be clean, so that is what his servants did. One day, on a trip to a distant region, he and his army stopped to rest. A servant began boiling water for him to drink, and a dead leaf from the wild tea bush fell into the water. It turned a brownish color, but it was unnoticed and presented to the emperor anyway.
The emperor drank it and found it very refreshing, and cha (tea) was born. Considered to be the father of Chinese agriculture, Shennong, sometimes referred to as the ‘divine farmer’ is said to have taught his people how to cultivate grains as food, so as to avoid killing animals. Shennong is also credited with identifying hundreds of medical (and poisonous) herbs by personally testing their properties and is also believed to have introduced the technique of acupuncture.
If you visit the Seven Star Tea House, on occasion you may get the opportunity to sit with a Tea Master who will share with you their own private collection of teas from some of the thousands available in China. At master-classes like this these tea professionals will wow you with their knowledge of tea and like a good chef will delight your taste buds with their rare brews.
Tea in Yangshuo: tea ceremony in the 7 Star Tea House
Annie will also organize tea ceremonies for groups so you can experience the ritual yourself and sample a range of teas. Or you can sit down with her and get lessons on how to make tea from a real expert.
Tea drinking is an elegant pastime, a relaxing and healthy way to pass the time in good company with good conversation. This old tradition is very much on the comeback in modern China, you could say it is a sign of the times and an indicator of the way peoples lives have improved over the last twenty years. Tea culture also reflects the history and traditional values of Chinese culture and the people here celebrate the old ways now with a tasty cup of tea. It is said that when you get up in the morning there are seven things to think about: oil, salt, wood, rice, soy sauce, vinegar and tea!