Article By Stephen Robinson
02 Room, No.1 Ti Yu Guan East Rd
11:00am – 9:00pm
Average Price per Person /人均消费:50RMB
Tea is part of the inextricable cultural heritage of China. Legend states that tea was discovered by the Chinese emperor Shen Nong, and it is a beverage that has been carefully cultivated and enjoyed by the Chinese people ever since. A good cup of tea is refreshing and revitalizing, and the art of good tea preparation is what separates tea from hot leaf juice. While tea shops abound in Xi’an, there seem to be two main styles, traditional tea shops that are often stuffy and ornately decorated, with hundreds of teas to choose from that can be intimidating for the non-expert; and the modern tea shop where the tea tends to be more fruit juice than tea, and there is so much sugar that the delicate flavors of the tea and the health benefits are lost entirely. However there is a new place that looks to find a happy medium between the archaic tea shop and the modern coffee shop – DAHUA Tea Lounge.
Located on 省体育馆东路, a short distance from South Gate, this tea lounge faces the street with a front of brass and brick. Small tables with low chairs take over the sidewalk out front, and a large glass window peaks out from the edifice, allowing those inside to watch the foot traffic outside. The inside is reminiscent of a traditional Chinese medicine or tea shop, with many alcoves containing display bags of tea, but everything is much more brightly lit. The whole atmosphere is a blend of a chic modern coffee shop with the airs of something much older. Comfortable, but a bit refined.
The menu is entirely in Chinese, though it is easy enough to navigate. They have choice teas from each of the major tea styles, including green tea, black tea, white tea, oolong tea, pu’er tea (both cooked and raw), and Wuyi tea. There are also several varieties of flower teas. If you’ve ever been curious about the different varieties and what they taste like, this is a good place to come and try. On this visit, I selected the 16-year Baimudan White Tea, a type of white tea that is famous for its light floral aroma and balanced bitterness. White tea is slightly oxidized, meaning the picked leaves are crushed and allowed to oxidize slightly before being fired and dried. For reference, green teas are unoxidized and black teas are fully oxidized.
Once ordered, the staff set to weighing out the tea in special bamboo shaped plate, measuring out the exact amount of tea for the small teapots that they us for infusions. After placing the tea in the pot, the leaves are first washed with boiling water, blooming the tea and heating the pot. The first wash is then poured out and the next infusion begins. Time of the infusion and the temperature of the water varies depending on the variety of tea. Afterwards, the tea is transferred to a larger pre-heated pot and served with a green bean cake, a local confectionary made from green mung beans. At DAHUA, they make their own green bean cakes from certified organic mung beans, imprinted with the company’s name. These cakes are the best that I’ve ever tried, with a creamy, light texture with no grittiness, and it was not heavily sweetened like these things often are. It pairs perfectly with the white tea, the flavors complementing each other very well. Apparently, I am not alone in my admiration, as the cakes are purchased by other shops around the city.
DAHUA also offers a selection of ‘thousand-layer’ cakes or crepe cakes. You can choose from a black tea flavored, black sesame flavored, and lemon flavored cake, all of which are made in house. I opted for the lemon, as I am fond of lemon flavored cakes. The layers were perfectly divided and the lemon flavor was balanced and not too sickly sweet, as these kinds of cakes often are. This, like the green bean cake, complemented the flavor of the tea well, though I think I would probably choose a black or oolong tea to complement the lemon next time.
DAHUA doesn’t just do hot teas. They also foray into the experimental, with a range of espresso-style beverages, made with Yunnan Pu’er tea. They have a Pu’er Americano and a Pu’er Latte. Looking for something interesting, I went with the Pu’er latter, which is made with oat milk. In the past when I’ve had oat milk, I didn’t like it, as it often would taste gritty, but for some reason, it works very well with the flavor of Pu’er. Served cold or hot (I went with cold, as it was hot outside), this was an interesting and delicious take on the classic coffeehouse beverage. I highly recommend trying it. If you’re looking for something cooler for the summer months, they have cold brew teas that they bottle in house that you can drink there or take away.
Of course, like any good shop, you can buy any of their teas to take home with you to try. They also sell some specialty tea cups that you can purchase and keep at the shop for your future visits, or take home with you. If you’re into tea, or you’re looking to try something new, this is a great shop for a calm afternoon of quiet reflection. Drinks start at 22RMB and climb up to 118RMB for the rarer teas, with the average price being around 45RMB for a pot of tea. If you’re in the neighborhood, this is a good place to stop by.
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