Perhaps one of my favorite places in China, Shanghai's Huxinting Tea House is an oasis of comfort in one of the most bustling metropolises in the world.
The tea house was originally built, during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), as part of the Yuyuan Garden. It is a pavilion located in the middle of a man-made lake, which gives it its name of "Huxinting", which translates as; Mid-lake Pavilion. In 1855, during the reign of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) Emperor Xian Feng, the pavilion was restored and turned into a tea house. It is a two storey structure in classical Chinese architectural style and the atmosphere inside is truly wonderful.
Currently, the tea house is located outside the entrance to the Yuyuan Garden. It is situated between the classic garden, and the Yuyuan Market, which is built with traditional Chinese architectural styles. During the day, the market, garden, and the tea house are packed wall to wall with tourists and it is almost impossible to access the tea house. But, in the evening, the tourists are all gone and all that is left are the locals strolling through the market. It is then that the Huxinting Tea House really shines. The tea house is virtually empty and the atmosphere is so soothing. I like to go to the second floor next to a window and just enjoy the views of the market. No matter what tea your order, you are given a place of traditional Shanghai tea snacks to eat with your tea. They compliment the tea wonderfully. The tea at the tea house is quite good. It is more expensive than if you were to buy the tea in a shop, but you are paying for the atmosphere, use of their tea ware, and the service. It is well worth it in my opinion.
Whenever I visit Shanghai, I make a stop at the Huxinting Tea House. I will generally go the first time by myself and the second evening, I will call some of my local Shanghai friends and invite them for tea. Either way, I settle in for the evening and it is truly joyous.
If you go to Shanghai, please do not miss the tea house, and if you go to the tea house, go in the evening.