Tianjin, a bustling international port city near Beijing, draws cultural influence from its neighboring metropolis. In particular, Tianjin’s culture has been shaped by the vibrant arts scene of Beijing. One distinctive form of entertainment originating in the Beijing area is cross talk. Typically performed by two artists, cross talk combines singing, storytelling, and witty dialogue to cleverly comment on and satirize current events.
Interestingly, many teahouses in Tianjin double as cross talk theaters. These teahouses feature a stage at the front, while the audience sits at tables, savoring tea and snacks throughout the performance. Consequently, teahouses have become popular destinations for leisure and amusement.
Since the 1980s, teahouse culture has become a prominent symbol of Tianjin. During cross talk performances, the artists don long, traditional Chinese jackets and employ minimal props, such as a wooden brick, a hand fan, and a handkerchief. As cross talk has evolved alongside advancements in media technology, this art form has gained widespread recognition and admiration from audiences across the country.
In Tianjin’s teahouses, where the aroma of tea mingles with the laughter evoked by cross talk, a vibrant blend of entertainment and cultural expression unfolds.
Mingliu Teahouse: Embracing Tradition and Cross Talk in Tianjin
Mingliu Teahouse, a revered establishment in Tianjin, holds a special place in the city’s teahouse culture. Situated on Guwenhua Road, this modest yet charming teahouse exudes an atmosphere that pays homage to traditional Chinese customs. The interior is adorned with simple decorations and furnished with classic designs, creating a space that reveres the essence of Chinese culture.
At Mingliu Teahouse, a diverse selection of renowned teas from across China awaits tea enthusiasts. Among their offerings, Tieguanyin, a delightful Oolong tea, comes highly recommended. Furthermore, Mingliu takes pride in its extensive array of snacks. With skilled cooks recruited from renowned restaurants, the teahouse delights patrons with a blend of northern and southern delicacies. The Goubuli steamed dumplings, fried dough twists, and fried sweet dumplings are particularly popular choices.
In the realm of cross talk, Mingliu Teahouse enjoys a stellar reputation. It was among the first establishments to introduce cross talk performances within teahouses and advocated for a focus on real-life experiences. Many esteemed cross talk masters rose to stardom at Mingliu Teahouse, which has played an integral role in the development of this art form.
Tianjin is home to three Mingliu Teahouse branches, with the original location situated on Guwenhua Street. The other two can be found on Xinhua Road and in the Tongqingli area.
The minimum spending per person at Mingliu Teahouse is approximately 45 RMB.
Address: 2nd Floor, the Main Building, Guwenhua Street
Jinyue Teahouse: Where Tradition Meets Entertainment in Downtown Tianjin
Established in 2008, Jinyue Teahouse has become a beloved destination in downtown Tianjin, nestled on Rongan Avenue. This popular establishment exudes a captivating charm that draws in visitors seeking entertainment and relaxation.
Inspired by the Qing Dynasty’s popular architectural style, the teahouse boasts grand wooden windows, a towering roof, and tasteful wooden furniture. The fusion of classic Chinese culture with modern amenities at Jinyue Teahouse offers a contemporary interpretation of tradition.
Upon entering, guests are greeted by an antique wooden reception desk, setting the nostalgic ambiance. The spacious lobby features large wooden tables accompanied by comfortable chairs, where patrons can sit and enjoy the lively atmosphere. At the center of the lobby, a dedicated stage hosts cross talk performances and various other captivating acts.
Jinyue Teahouse not only showcases cross talk shows but also invites talented folk artists from across the country to display their skills, such as Beijing opera, drum dance, and Hebei Bangzi. However, cross talk remains the star attraction, drawing crowds of people seeking quality entertainment or simply a pleasant time with friends, especially on weekends.
For those seeking a more private setting, Jinyue Teahouse offers twelve beautifully decorated private rooms on the second floor, ideal for family gatherings or business meetings. Prior reservations are recommended for those with specific requirements.
One of Jinyue’s distinctive offerings is the tea ceremony performance, where highly-trained performers showcase the intricate process of Chinese teaism while enlightening the audience with explanations. Additionally, the teahouse provides teaism classes for interested customers, allowing them to immerse themselves in this traditional art form. Specialized tea shows can also be arranged to cater to specific preferences and occasions.
Jinyue Teahouse prides itself on providing the finest tea selection and exceptional service. Their offerings include renowned teas like Tieguanyin, Puer, Maojian, and other distinguished brands. If you are in search of a place to unwind and pass the time, Jinyue Teahouse is an excellent choice.
The minimum spending per person at Jinyue Teahouse is approximately 30 RMB.
For more information, please visit their website: [link]
Address: 177 Xinyaju, Xinwenhua Huayuan, Rongye Avenue
Gulou Teahouse: A Timeless Haven of Cross Talk in China
Renowned as the oldest “cross talk teahouse” in China, Gulou Teahouse has preserved its rich history by maintaining its original interior. As you step inside, you will be transported back in time to experience the authentic ambiance that has remained unchanged since its inception.
Gulou Teahouse prides itself on its exceptional performances, making it a hotspot for entertainment enthusiasts. Guests are welcome to indulge in delicious snacks and tea while immersing themselves in the captivating shows. The teahouse has earned high praise for its impeccable service, with locals hailing it as a true reflection of the friendly and passionate spirit of Tianjin.
Upon entering the lobby, you will be greeted by well-arranged tables and chairs. The courteous waitstaff will warmly welcome you with a smile, patiently attending to your needs. While Gulou Teahouse may be smaller in size compared to other establishments, its remarkable service, reasonable prices, and extraordinary performances have earned it a dedicated following among the local residents.
Moreover, Gulou Teahouse serves as an ideal destination for those eager to explore the vibrant Tianjin culture and gain deeper insights into the local way of life.
The minimum spending per person at Gulou Teahouse is approximately 44 RMB.
Address: 52 Gulou Street
Qianxiangyi Teahouse: Where Tradition Meets Entertainment
Qianxiangyi Teahouse, formerly a theater, has transformed itself into a versatile entertainment venue to thrive in the competitive market. While preserving its original theater ambiance, Qianxiangyi Teahouse caters to the refined tastes of Tianjin locals with its classic design. Guests are welcome to bring their own food to enjoy alongside the performances.
Devoted to the promotion of cross talk art, Qianxiangyi Teahouse has organized two cross talk festivals and established a cross talk club. By nurturing emerging artists, the teahouse actively supports the preservation of traditional Chinese folk art.
The minimum spending per person at Qianxiangyi Teahouse is approximately 40 RMB.
Address: 64 Guyi Street
Other Teahouses to Explore:
Renowned for its exceptional performers, Dajintai Teahouse frequently invites famous cross talk groups to entertain the audience. If you are a devoted cross talk fan, be sure to keep an eye out for their seasonal advertisements.
Address: 57 Chifeng Road
As one of the oldest theaters in Tianjin, Tianhuajing has transformed into a modern performing center. However, its cross talk shows remain highly popular. According to reviews on Aibang.com, the tea might be average, but the local snacks are fantastic. Notably, Tianhuajing provides a designated smoking area. If you prefer a more contemporary atmosphere, Tianhuajing will not disappoint.
Address: 6th Floor Quanyechang Building, 290 Ping Road