Laoshe Tea House

This is one exciting cultural place at Qianmen off the main tourist itinerary. It is named after the drama Teahouse by Chinese author, Lao She. Although an attempt to give a taste of a Beijing tea-house during Lao She’s time, it has instead transformed into a wonderful entertainment house with short shows by comedians, singers, musicians, acrobats and opera performers. In short, one can have a kaleidoscopic view of Beijing culture while sipping tea with light refreshment.  Dinner before the show is provided separately in another section of the building and the price of the food is reasonable. An adjacent room display paintings, art objects like paper cuttings, figurines, antiques, kites and jade carvings.

Lao She (1899-1966), real name Shu Qingchun, was of Manchurian descent and the famous author of the book called “Camel Xiangzi” also known in the US as “Rickshaw”. It was a bestseller in the US where Lao She was a visiting  professor. He also taught Chinese at the Oriental School of London University in his earlier days. His drama Teahouse displayed his linguistic talent of the Beijing dialect, depicting the customers with their bird cages and their pipes enjoying tea and gossip. Other famous works are Crescent Moon, City of Cats, The Yellow Storm and the Drum Singers. Unfortunately, despite his great love for China, he was hounded by the Gang of Four to suicide by drowning. He was posthumously rehabilitated in 1979 and his complete works were fully available. His wife, Hu Jieqing (1905-2001) a close friend of Prof. M.L. Pei,  was an accomplished painter.

The owner of the Lao She Teahouse, Yin Shengxi,  is a student of the son of Qi Baishi, one of China’s best contemporary painters. Hence, one can see the busts of both Lao She and Qi Baishi at the entrance to the Teahouse.