Tag: beijing

the hip, ancient alleys of beijing

dark hutong
Squint as you make your way down a pitch black hutong in the shadow of a medieval bell tower



Beijing is most often defined by its grand wonders, by its imperial reputation. Hear the name of this capital city and your mind conjures images of the vast Tian’anmen Square or the mighty Great Wall. But spend a little time in the capital city, and discover a world found only in the hutongs of Beijing.

These narrow alleyways are some of the most ancient existent parts of the city, dating all the way back to the twelfth century.  Grey brick walls are capped with tile roofs and punctuated by red lanterns. And these streets have evolved to become a completely unique cultural landscape, where old time Beijing businesses stand alongside new bars and trendy boutiques. Nanluoguxiang is the most famous of these alleys, constantly packed with young people devouring skewers and Mongolian yogurt as they stroll along the hutong. But an entire region in central Beijing is still predominantly made up of these alleys, where you can find families socializing, local bakeries and grocers, and expat-owned bars, coffee shops, hotels and restaurants discreetly plugged into the neighborhood.

In China Tea Leaves 北京 Beijing, discover with us the unique character of more of these hutongs, with an entire section devoted to this glorious scene. A walking map in the book will help you find some of the best streets for shopping, photography, and dining, and we share the best restaurants, hotels and bars to check out when you’re wandering the hutongs of Beijing. Find it on iBooks for iPad and Mac.


china tea leaves 北京 beijing is here

beijing cover f

Today, I’m very pleased to announce that China Tea Leaves 北京 Beijing has arrived on the iBooks store.

In China Tea Leaves 北京 Beijing, you’ll follow the emperor’s mighty footsteps through the Tian’anmen Gate, and peer into his old throne rooms and chambers in the Forbidden City’s golden courtyards. Feel the emperor’s relief from the confines of the palace and escape to the former imperial gardens at Beihai Park and Cixi’s incomparable Summer Palace. Get lost in the medieval alleyways of the hutongs, and discover a different side of Beijing in its hip local and expat cafes, bars and courtyard hotels. Climb the Great Wall and take in its heroic vistas stretching hundreds of years and ten thousands of miles. Chase ghosts of Beijing’s imperial past in its preserved ancestral halls, reconstructed city gates, and the disappearing sites of courtyard homes and imperial halls. Feast on roast duck, craft beer, and old school cuisine in the dark alleys of Beijing.

Whatever your expectations of China, whatever your expectations of Beijing, this city will surpass and defy them. Beijing welcomes you to discover its many wonders.

This fully interactive and illustrated book designed for the iPad and Mac is offered at a special introductory price of just $4.99. But don’t let the small price fool you. This is the most in-depth, artistic, and user-friendly China Tea Leaves guide yet. We’ve pulled out all the stops for one of the most complex and most-visited places in China. Included are over 200 pages with eye-popping photos, eleven interactive hand-drawn maps, extensive glossary and local audio guide, hotel and restaurant recommendations, and tips for international travelers to China.

Download today, and please share your stories and feedback with us.

beijing treasures reconstructed

A new series of exhibitions in Beijing features beautiful reconstructions of some of the capital’s landmarks. These impressive scale models are made by the China Red Sandalwood Museum of ebony and red sandalwood, materials that will last for generations. The models shown thus far include the Temple of Heaven, a Ming dynasty gem in beloved Tiantan Park, and the former Andingmen and Yongdingmen gates. The latter two were gates in Beijing’s old city wall, which was torn down in the 1950’s to make way for a new street system. Yongdingmen has since been reconstructed adjacent to its original location at the south central entry into the walled city.

To view the models, visit the National Museum of China, 16 East Chang’an Avenue, before December 29.


yunnan delights in old beijing


yunnan mapMap of Yunnan province

At the end of a twisting Beijing alleyway in the shadow of the thirteenth century bell tower, there is a place that will transport you to the wide open blue skies and country courtyards of Yunnan province in southwestern China. Hani Gejiu (哈尼个旧) is a new restaurant in the hutongs of Beijing, serving Yunnan cuisine inspired by the Hani minority and the area around Gejiu city. Partners Sue Zhou, Chinese-Dutch chef, and Wen Juan, of Hani heritage, work together to create a space and menu that specifically focuses on the southern part of Yunnan province.

sue and juanSue Zhou and Wen Juan in front of their restaurant

Authentic dishes feature the signature goat cheese and aged ham of Yunnan, as well as noodle soups and tofu skin salads. You can also enjoy the many wonderful mushrooms of Yunnan province, from deep fried oyster mushrooms, to a flavorful appetizer of mushrooms cooked in the region’s butter. Sue often tries out new, delicious dishes, such as peanut encrusted crispy fish. Choose between one of Yunnan’s most famous products pu-er tea, which is an aged and heavily fermented tea, or the lighter, lesser known Hani mountain tea.

IMG_6787Yunnan ham and peppers accompanied by lightly pan-fried goat cheese

Seek out this quiet, cozy corner of Beijing for a true taste of Yunnan cuisine. Contact information can be found here; also read more about Sue Zhou and her cooking classes at the Hutong Kitchen here.

photo of the day


Yonghegong (雍和宫), Beijing, also known as the Lama Temple, a Lamasery of Tibetan Buddhism.

The yellow roof tiles signify the imperial status granted to the temple by the Qianlong Emperor in the 18th century. The various animals decorating the ridge also lend symbolism to the building. The man riding a chicken on the right is often associated with imperial buildings, while the three sea creatures at the left are meant to protect the wooden building from fire. The number of animals in between the sea creature and the man signify the importance of the building. This temple has five; the grandest hall in the Forbidden City has the maximum of nine animals.