Ridiculously cute pandaIn what seems like an overwhelming series of disasters this year, China’s Sichuan province was recently hit by a terribly destructive earthquake. It has taken many lives and destroyed many towns and cities. Among the cities hit is the capital of the Sichuan province, Chengdu. In today’s Voice, I want to not only take a moment to reflect on this immense tragedy, but also provide a glimpse of what this tea-loving city once was and (hopefully) will be again.

Chengdu is known for three major things: pandas, spicy food and teahouses. In fact, Chengdu is said to have more teahouses than Shanghai, despite the fact that the population is less than half. Tea is so infused into the lives of the people of the city that many stay at the teahouse all day, talking and playing games. Teahouse owners even provide visitors with ear cleaning and Chengdu teapotfingernail trimming (not in the tea, please) to keep them comfortable!

Entire communities meet at Chengdu’s teahouses, and it is therefore no wonder that during the Cultural Revolution most teahouses were shut down to discourage anti-revolutionaries from scheming.

There is a teapot that is unique to Chengdu teahouses as well. Usually made of brass and having an absurdly long spout, servers use these teapots to refresh customers’ teacups without interrupting conversations.

The people of Chengdu are known for love of life, and their passion for tea is a critical component. Hopefully they’ll be enjoying their tea again soon.

editor’s note: this article re-blogged with permission from tavalon.

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