Shanghai's best markets for buying and brewing tea

Skip the HEYTEA and prepare your own brew

Photographs: Yang Xiaozhe (Laoximen Tea Plaza)
There’s no question that China’s the place for tea lovers – the Middle Kingdom’s love for the stuff goes back thousands of years. For those who prefer to skip the HEYTEA and prepare their own brew, there are a few places in Shanghai to help make that happen. From chrysanthemum to oolong, here are the tea markets to check out next time you fancy brewing yourself a cuppa.

Tianshan Tea City

This multi-building, multi-floor complex has practically any kind of tea or tea-related paraphernalia you can think of – tea leaves, tea sets, tea pets, the works. The majority of stalls feature vendors brandishing loose-leaf teas on display from lighter teas like white or flower tea to darker varieties like oolong or Pu’er, any of which can be brewed and sampled on the spot. Due to the venue’s size and international clientele, many stalls have the added benefit of offering basic English service, a luxury not necessarily afforded at other tea markets. 

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520 Zhongshan Xi Lu

Laoximen Tea Plaza

Boasting more than just tea leaves of all varieties and tea-related products like tea sets and kettles, Laoximen Tea Market also has four stories’ worth of calligraphy, fans, ceramics and jewellery for sale. Vendors are much more aloof than what you’d expect at, say, the Fabric Market, making for a more laid-back and quiet shopping experience – a mini-pond in the center of the first floor adds to the relaxed vibe. Whip out your Pleco or Google Translate for this place, as most transactions will require at least basic Mandarin.

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1121 Fuxing Dong Lu

Daning International Tea City

With one fewer floor than Tianshan Tea City but a much larger layout overall, Daning International Tea City is massive. It focuses mainly on loose-leaf teas of all kinds, but also sells gorgeous hand-painted ceramics, fans, calligraphy pieces and more. Vendors are friendly and the occasional stall offers basic English. As with any tea market, be sure to try before you buy and hunt around for a brew you like before making a purchase.

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1536 Gonghexin Lu

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