Travel Tips

A visit to The Wah Tea House: Evolution of a famous Chinatown

This was a place when we visited for the first time, and it’s one of the most famous tourist destinations in China (and maybe even the world). It’s called The Wah Tea House. That’s right – in a country known for exporting so much – we could only find in this area a place dedicated to the world’s second most consumed beverage (after tea, of course). You could spend all day asking about its history – and this place has a nifty story about that too! However, without going through all of that, I’m going to focus on what it means for a tourist visit, and talk about trying it.

What makes a street famous is that its history has been extensively researched, and then developed into a unique and visual narrative. In China, this story has a lot to do with the country’s tumultuous and history-filled lives, its shifting regional and provincial influences, and its often tumultuous relationships with foreign countries. Sometimes, there are other histories to draw from – like cultural and traditions – to help tell that story better.

The story of The Wah Tea House goes back to 1906, when the name was given to the area’s bathhouse by its founder as an homage to his then-favorite beverage, the thirsty Chinese staple that “Mayshah” is still called today. The story is told on the restaurant’s website – but, again, it has a lot to do with its history. One person’s drinking history is another person’s “can you taste that,” and what’s on my blog is just that. What I’m going to tell you is if this is a pilgrimage you want to make, and it would be nice to take this route, then you’re going to need to plan an itinerary of a good seven days. Plan to check into the hotel in Xi’an city, and there are train and bus service to Xi’an University.

You’ll want to head out before 7:00 a.m. For one thing, the train departs early in the morning and arrives at Xi’an University in just an hour, so you can have a caffeine fix before you head off to the tea house. And, beyond that, it’s just a chance to drink tea, and you probably won’t be waiting for long (the Wah Tea House is busiest in the middle of the day). If you’re going to try this type of tea house, it would be a good way to do it without an overabundance of other visitors – in fact, you might be in for a pretty unique experience! And with more people coming this spring, it might be a time to really experience this street properly!

The Wah Tea House is located in the Heilan Wai (old town), right next to the Yinghot Buddhist Temple and right outside the gates of the University of Xi’an. The shops and cafes lining the street help make this a popular place for tourists to visit.

How to Enter: You can enter the area without actually spending money at the Wah Tea House by making a reservation at one of the established stops nearby. On your way in, you’ll need to pass through a series of merchant shops – many of which were started in the 1800s, and probably inspired by the well-respected Hanling Shui Art Shop nearby. These stop include Bumjackay and Fair Count, two shops that specialise in Shaolin, the famous martial art. You’ll also find an excellent assortment of handicrafts and quilts, not to mention one of the best betstos in town.

Whether you’re on your way to a long weekend break in China, or just planning for the next big trip, the Wah Tea House is a great place to visit – especially for that first visit and to get started your pilgrimage of a pilgrimage to the Chinese region!

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