A Tea House To Future

photos and story by Mona Jiang | June 26, 2021

Rambling along the Dongzhong Street in Beijing, you may encounter a tea house, which resembles Noah’s ark floating in the world and waiting for a recession of the flood. Since its inception in January 2021,the hostess Xuelian has ran the space with a unique philosophy.

“I’ve never been to any other tea houses in Beijing, because their believes are too different from mine,” the hostess said, “I’m not here to make profits. My main purpose is to find friends.”

You may take it as a deceptive rhetoric or a lunatic talk, but she won’t be ruffled. Continuously cooking and pouring out tea for you, the slim figure will let the conversation flow freely.

She hides not her vulnerabilities, and exposes herself to you in a way that people will only do in their cozy relationships. She talked about husband who died long time ago, her previous job as an accountant, and even the rental cost of the store.

“Lacking of genuine friendships is fatal to our health, neuroscientists said, but the impenetrable screen seem always stands between people,” she said, “Everyone is armored to their teeth, trying the best to hide their true self, and always talk with an agenda. So I create this space to tell people ‘Hey, you may relax and be genuine’.”

“I try to memorize every detail of our visitors, such as their preferred topping of cake or favourite taste of tea. You are our friends, and you will have our genuine attention and care.”

“I want to give everyone who come here a peace of mind, and a genuine friendship,” she said, “ What I want to achieve is that even if there’s only plain water to drink, you are willing to come.”

Her pursuit can be perceived everywhere. Though the space is limited, an exquisite attic was built. Through its window, you may have an overview of the store: each piece of architecture is made of wood, preserving their original color. Instead of using artificial plants, the greens here are all real.  Staff members walking around occasionally are all in snow-white gowns, as if  trying to minimize human impacts on the natural environment.

“ People in metropolitan are too distant from nature now, but they need to converse with natural things to rediscover their true self,” she said, “Children love my store. Whenever they pass by, they always want to come in.”

In addition to the atmosphere, her store offers tea ranging from green to white, black, oolong, dark and yellow. But a closer look reveals that flower teas are not offered here.  “ Flower teas are usually made with lesser parts of leaves, making it difficult to guarantee the quality. That’s why we don’t offer them,” she explained. Alongside tea, fresh fruit and cakes can also be found in her store. “All the ingredients must be authentic, and of high quality, ” she said, “ I believe in authenticity.  No matter how pretty the dacron is, it cannot survive after thousands of years, but the real silk can.”

Though she demands premium quality, she refuses to charge high prices. She said, to make profits, beverage stores usually have to sell products at a price five times higher than the purchasing price, but she sells hers only at 3 times more. Making quick profit is not her aim. “I want it to last long,” she said.

Despite her efforts, challenges looms ahead. “It’s difficult to find helpers who share the same ideal, ” she said, “recently a member left because she wanted to make this store half like the business out there. I said no, because that would change the gene of this store, which is not what it needs. ”

Beyond the ideology differences, the immature tea culture in the north of China is another barricade. “The North is not like the South, where people are familiar with tea. It takes time for them to accept  tea as a part of their life.”

Yet, she embrace these trials, and said, “I believe if I’m genuine, there will always be people who want to help me.” In future, She plans to hold more cultural activities, like ikebana, a ritual of flower arrangement, or Kodo, the art of incense appreciation. “ I want to introduce them to my friends,” she said.

Many people tried to persuade her to adopt a more profitable business model, yet, the owner of the Buddha Lotus Tea House was not swayed. She said, “Their business models may suit the current time, but who knows which model suits the future.”

Please stay tuned, more stories to come~

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