Teahouses are everywhere in China.This one was in Mudu, a small town on the outskirts of Suzhou.
Mudu was famous in the Qing dynasty for recieving a visit from the Emperor himself, on his southern inspection tour of the proviinces. As way back as the state of Wu when Suzhou was first constructed, emperor of Wu, Fuchai, apparently built a palce at Mudu for his queen Xishi ( one of China’s four famous beauties).
To build his palace, Fuchai sent so many great logs down the river, that the waterways were blocked, hence the name
木渎mù dú, meaning wood (木 mù) ditch 渎dú. It’s come to signify “timber blocking the river”.
The Ming dynasty saw many famous private gardens built, in typical Jiangnan style.
We stopped at one of them to drink tea.
In traditional teahouses, guests are brought a flask with boiling water, and a cup with tea-leaves. Sipping tea in the back garden, amidst historic architecture, brought a tangible sense of peace.
The rooms of the teahouse are set up to give an idea of what the residence once looked like.
The bed is from the Qing dynasty, when the teahouse was a private villa, constructed in Jiangnan style like the famous gardens of Suzhou. An altar to the Goddess of Mercy, Guan Yin, is in the corridor.
From the second floor, the view looks over the courtyard and onto the rural fields surrounding.
In the upstairs corner room, old paintings of China’s Four Beauties, honouring Xishi, the Queen who made Mudu famous, hang from the wall.
I was drinking in a long history with my cup of tea.