At first glance Chengdu looks like a lot of other Chinese cities, rising towards the sky in a futuristic tangle of metal and glass. But hidden amid the skyscrapers are a growing number of neighbourhoods that take their inspiration from China’s imperial past.
Drinking tea is as central to life in Chengdu as its pungent Sichuan peppercorns or the city’s other favourite pastime, mah-jong.
Many people carry flasks, pre-filled with tea leaves, ready for hot water wherever they go. Others head to the city’s many teahouses.
A single street might be populated with five or six different teahouses; the same again can be found on the next. It’s a density that persists whether you’re in the heart of the city or in the suburbs.