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Your Tianshan Tea City shopping guide
Tianshan Tea City is a labyrinth of knowledgeable and friendly tea sellers, but with 150 stalls it's wise to pick and choose your stops
On any given day, Shanghai tea connoisseurs and novices alike can be seen meandering the multi-level complex that is completely devoted to tea at Tianshan Tea City. For true enthusiasts of the drink, this place -- located on Zhongshan Xi Lu near Yuping Lu -- is a promised land. For those wanting to know a little bit more about their leaves, this market houses over 150 stalls sorting, selling, and brewing tea, with vendors ready to tell you all you ever wanted to know about their product.
Here are our picks of the best stalls to check out.
The front gate of Tianshan Tea City is located on Zhongshan Xi Lu, near the Yuping Lu intersection. Once you pass through the gates, you will be met with the sweet and pungent aroma of the many different varieties of tea on display.
The main building directly behind the front gate is home to three floors dedicated to tea. Shop 1050 on the first floor, specializes in Kaihua Dragon Top -- a hard-to-find green tea from Zhejiang provinces that costs RMB 180 for each jin (500g).
“We focus more on educating people about a lot of different teas,” explains Liu Wei, one of the experts in shop 1061. Here, patrons can sample brews from all over the Middle Kingdom, but green tea -- and all its variations -- pretty much reigns supreme.
Most shops, like 1126, display bamboo woven baskets with freshly picked leaves. This basket of a green tea from Hangzhou had just been sorted and combed through by hand by two employees of the stall.
Unlike most shops here, Mr Chen’s shop 1027 packages his tea in round discs. “Our most popular tea,” says Mr. Chen, “is our aged grain scented tea,” made by the Menghai Tea Factory in Yunnan. One disc runs RMB 130.
On the second floor of the Shanghai tea market, shop 2126 sells more than just tea. “We carry everything from jasmine flower blossoms to porcelain tea kettles,” explains Ms Tang. Jasmine blossoms here can run up to RMB 200 a jin. But watching them bloom in hot water is worth the heavy price tag.
Shop 2110 has just opened and is already popular. Among the unpacked boxes, a tea table was set up so passers-by could enjoy some samples from Mr Cao’s wall of tea discs, which start at RMB 70 for a black tea from Yunnan province.
Tea tables like the one found at 2096 can be found all over the complex. “We know our teas are a bit expensive,” explains the red qipao clad saleswoman. “So we like to offer samples to people so they can leave satisfied with the exact tea they like.” Here, the expensive and high quality Dian Hong black tea from Yunnan Province is their specialty.
“We only sell Cui Jian (a green tea from Fujian Province) during the spring and summer months,” explains Xu, the son of the owner of shop 2129. Those months are the tea’s optimal picking seasons. During the winter, they sell oolong.
The third floor of the Shanghai tea complex is home to mostly Chinese art shops, but among these, a handful sell modern tea sets. Shop 3059’s sets start at RMB 750 and can go upward well into the thousands of RMB.
Tianshan Tea City
520 Zhongshan Xi Lu, near Yuping Lu, Metro Line 2, 3 & 4 Zhongshan Park Station
中山西路520号, 近玉屏路, 地铁2, 3, 4号线中山公园站
Open daily, 8:00 a.m. - 10:00 p.m.