Huxinting Tea House, Shanghai

Read, Seen, Heard

Tea House Last

In the Old City of Shanghai, just outside the Yu Yuan Garden, sits the Huxinting tea house, said to have been built during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) as a private retreat, and restored in 1855, when it became a public tea house. The tea house is reached via the Bridge of Nine Turnings, designed to frustrate evil spirits, who prefer to travel in straight lines. Westerners have long referred to it as the Willow Pattern Teahouse, as it resembles the scene from the classic blue & white Willow chinaware.

The tea house has hosted a variety of guests. Among the early uninvited visitors were officers of the British Army under Sir Hugh Gough, who, in June of 1842, during the First Opium War, took over the tea house as a command center for a few days before moving on to another virtually defenseless city. More visitors were to come; I’ll…

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