UPDATE on coronavirus in Wuhan/Hubei Province (February 2020): Due to the current outbreak of novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), countries and health agencies across the world have advised that people should avoid travel to Wuhan and the province of Hubei.
As you’re probably well aware, the Chinese are big tea drinkers. But what you might not know is that China’s coffee shop culture is also on the rise. International brands like Starbucks and Costa have long since discovered this snippet of information and have been nurturing the country’s growing caffeine addiction for a number of years. However, if you are visiting Wuhan and searching for a pick-me-up, how about trying something a little more local? Here are ten of our favourites to get you going.
Located just a short walk from Hubei University’s rear gate, this artsy coffee joint is a top spot to nestle down on an airy mezzanine with a book, a project or a group of friends and refuel. The menu offers the normal selection of coffees, fruit teas and artisan breads, as well as some rather interestingly labelled ‘Cheese-topped teas’. But don’t let this put you off – it turns out that the cheese is in fact a delicious sweet cream. The main menu is in Chinese but fear not, as the friendly staff have an English menu prepared on an iPad for any confused looking customers.
When it comes to aesthetics, this café has everything you could possibly ask for. The floor-to-ceiling bookcases, remastered furniture, outdoor terrace seating, mosaic tiles and crafty ornaments would win anyone over, and that’s before they’ve even had a chance to taste the coffee. The extensive menu features all the regulars along with a selection of devilishly sweet milkshake options. They have also scrapped mugs in favour of sizeable ornate glasses that harmonize with the décor!
Sat in the centre on Wuhan’s cherished coffee street, Tan Hua Lin, 1510 is a step above the rest when it comes to value. Using their own brand of coffee, which is available to buy in store, the skilled barista’s will whip you up a latte for as little as 15 yuan (US$2.20). The simple but tasteful interiors and the soft music draw in a quiet and studious crowd. This, paired with the trustworthy Wi-Fi connection, means that 1510 is the perfect place to knuckle down with an assignment or a textbook.
Déjà Vu Coffee is nestled in the centre of Déjà Vu Library; an artsy venue at the end of Tan Hua Lin which is less of a library and more of an artisan craft market. Serving up an array of coffees, teas and alcoholic beverages, this coffee joint is an ideal spot for a Saturday afternoon siesta. Grab a drink and pull up a chair in the Library’s softly lit communal seating area. If you’re lucky, there may also be a spot of live music for you to enjoy.
Located behind the picturesque Shahu Lake, this newly refurbished coffee joint is as peaceful as its name suggests. The shop itself is spacious and airy, but if you need a quiet area, head into one of the curtained off booths or pull up a seat on the mezzanine. The menu offers a selection of coffees, but if you fancy something else, the staff are more than willing to accommodate requests. There are also a selection of Western-style meals and sweet desserts on offer, as well as constant refills of hot lemony water.
Maan Coffee or 漫咖啡, is originally a Korean brand famed for its lavish décor and indulgent desserts. Simply entering the building can quickly become a dieter’s worst nightmare. The tasty waffles and overindulgent sweet toast breads are laid out at the front counter next to posters of guilty but delicious looking cream-topped drinks. However, we all deserve a treat now and then, and where better to enjoy it then parked on a vintage armchair under a dimly lit chandelier.
Merci Café is another one of Tan Hua Lin’s many treasures. The establishment’s peppermint green exterior and artsy French doors make it hard to miss, but as the old saying goes, it’s what’s inside that counts. The deco is what strikes you first; think of an Alice in Wonderland-style tea party crossed with a 1920’s toy shop. But as with all quality establishments, it’s the menu that won us over. Try one of Merci’s deliciously flavoured coffees, or our favourite – the peach milk tea.
The third floor of a bustling mall is probably the last place you would expect to find a tranquil tea house, but Steagar defies all of our expectations. The cool air-conditioned shop and the modern colourful deco make this a perfect place for sampling some of China’s best brews. The menu is written in Chinese, but luckily for non-speakers, there is a whole wall stacked with jars of tea for you to examine before you make a decision.
Ten Fu’s tea house is the best place in Wuhan to learn about Chinese tea. The extensive menu offers a wealth of varieties from across China, all brewed with dedication by knowledgeable and experienced staff. Wuhan is the capital of Hubei Province, and this area is renowned for its tea plantations, so make sure to try a blend which is native to the area. After you’ve emptied your teapot, make sure to stop outside for a photo with the giant teapot fountain.
This unassuming tea house, whose name translates roughly to ‘waterside pavilion’, is only recognisable by the small yellow flag outside the building that reads ‘茶’, which is the Chinese character for tea. What is really special about this place is the idyllic location. The building is one of the only establishments in the Shahu lake park grounds, meaning that customers benefit from panoramic views of the beautiful lake and the Wuhan city skyline.