Chongqing Teahouse couple

How a Chongqing Teahouse Fuses Art and Dessert

A Chinese millennial couple creates contemporary Chinese sweets and designs that make a difference in daily life

Flanked by white fig trees and spicy noodle shops, Heshan Teahouse sits two floors below street level in a residential building on the southern bank of the Yangtze River. One gets there by taking a cable car across the river from the forest of skyscrapers in downtown Chongqing, looking for a shop sign that resembles a woodblock print of a few temples and pine trees atop a hill.

The teahouse is owned by Zhang Yipeng and Li Xia, a husband and wife team who both graduated from Beijing’s Central Academy of Fine Arts. Three years ago, they moved to Chongqing, Li’s hometown, to escape the monotony of work and life in Beijing, and rented and refurbished this old apartment for their business.

It’s a cozy, confined space, able to seat around 20 people at its antique wooden tables and chairs. The concrete floor and ceiling beams are bathed in the warm light cast by wire lamps hanging from the ceiling. Loose menu pages, each with an illustration and a poem that describes a certain food, sit neatly on the counter. Instead of serving sunflower seeds, peanuts, and candied fruits like most other teahouses, Heshan offers unique desserts of its own invention in the ancient tradition of chashi (茶食)—a loose term for snacks consumed while drinking tea.

This is subscriber exclusive content

Become a subscriber to continue reading

How a Chongqing Teahouse Fuses Art and Dessert is a story from our issue, “Something Old Something New.” To read the entire issue, become a subscriber and receive the full magazine. Alternatively, you can purchase the digital version from the App Store.


author Ningyi Xi (席宁忆)

Ningyi Xi is a contributing writer at the World of Chinese. She writes about interesting souls and fascinating places that she encounters during her travels.

Related Articles