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In ancient China, women often used flowers to make cosmetics, as it could make skin smooth and soft. Nan Er Chun, a tea shop in Ma Lian Dao Street, features a special flower tea designed for ladies. Mixing green tea with flowers, the tea is not only light and sweet, but also beautiful when drank in a transparent glass.

Before brewed, the tea looks like a ball, with the green tea leaves at the bottom, and the dried flowers at the top. The leaves and flowers are linked together with a piece of thread. There are 24 different types of flower teas offered in the shop. Each with its own mixture and unique name.

The shopkeeper brewed me a "Noble Madam". The name comes from the two flowers used. One is osmanthus, which sounds the same as noble in Chinese. The other is carnation, a flower often presented to mothers. After the shopkeeper poured hot water into the tea glass, the red carnation started to expand, while the yellow osmanthus floated in the glass. I gave it a sip. It tasted sweet, and filled with the scent of flowers.

Each flower tea can be brewed five times. After that, you can put some water into the glass to keep the flower for ten days.

One package with four different types of flower teas cost RMB 26.

What I appreciate:
Flower tea both for drinking and looking

What customers appreciate:
Healthy flower tea in various package


As the best of the four major carving stones in China, the Shoushan stone boasts over 100 sub-types.  Among which the best is the Tianhuang stone, the material used for making Emperor seals throughout ancient China.

Fu Lin Ge, a shop in Dong Fang Gu Yuan Art Market, makes beautiful Shoushan stone carvings. All of them are incredibly elaborate in design. One particular item, depicting the famous general Guan Yu of the 3 Kingdoms era, is most conspicuous. You can see clearly each intricate detail on the body.

An interesting design there was a white carving of an old man with a child with a funny red face. It has an interesting name "Hong Yun Dang Tou", which both describes the scene and means "Good luck is coming". I thought it was a cute play on words.

Because of the precious Shoushan Stone, prices of the stone carvings in the shop are quite high. Each one costs several thousand yuan.

What I appreciate:
Precious stone carvings, fine workmanship

What customers appreciate:
Beautiful stone carvings, fine details

The technique of glazed color has over 2000 years of history. In ancient China, precious glazed products were considered mysterious and could bring people luck. And usually only emperors and the royal families had them.

Bai Yi De Kun, a shop in Bai Gong Fang Handicraft Museum features various colored glaze articles all made by hand. Inside, I found vases, necklaces, bracelets, and other accessories. Each one was a great wonder. I was amazed at the fabulous colors, which looked like colorful liquid flowing inside a translucent body.

The owner told me that producing each piece was very complicated.  It needed to be smelted by raging fire at 1400 degrees. And then put through 50 steps during production. The different colors results from the use of different metal elements. For example, cobalt produces green, while gold produces red.

I especially liked one red colored glaze item where nine dragons played with a ball. Another one called the ¡°Sun Rising From the Sea¡± was also appealing.

Prices varied from RMB 100 to RMB 20,000 depending on the different styles and sizes.

What I appreciate:
Its beauty

What customers appreciate:
Unique art


On the second floor of Dong Fang Gu Yuan Art Market, Ren He Rong Yi offers many types of wooden carvings.

I was initially attracted by its lamps, which were covered with wooden decorations. I liked it as this is not just art, but also useful. The solid wood was inlaid with strips of copper, silver, or silk. Traditional Chinese paintings nicely decorated the lamps.

When I talked to the owner of Ren He Rong Yi, Mr. Xu, I was surprised to find out that he designed all products in the shop. He told me that he owned a small manufactory where everything is made. And he also uses this shop as a studio for him to paint and design.

Beside lamps, Ren He Rong Yi also offers wood-carvings, jade-caving, and stone paintings. Mr. Xu told me that because everything is made in-house, he can accept personal orders. If you would like a custom designed carving, he¡¯d be happy to oblige.

Most handicrafts are priced between RMB 400 to RMB 800. Some of the bigger items can reach RMB 1800 though.

What I appreciate:
Fine workmanship

What customers appreciate:
Handcrafts depicting the old Chinese culture


For those of you unfamiliar with snuff, they are finely grounded tobaccos, and used as herbal medicines when smelled. In ancient times, they were quite popular in China, and snuff bottles became a work field of art. Even today, traditional Chinese paintings inside enjoy popularity home and abroad.

And I was glad to personally visit Liu Shouben, one of the 36 best artists specializing in snuff bottle paintings. His studio is located in Bai Gong Fang, also known as the Handicraft Museum.

The snuff bottle paintings inside are works by Mr. Liu and his students. As Mr. Liu focus on local flavors, he typically depicts the local life and landscapes of Beijing. His works are characterized by their delicate color, which brings out the spirit of the city.

I took special notice to the paintbrush. It is in fact just a hair stuck to a piece of thin bamboo. The reason for this is because the paintings need to be painted inside the bottle, in a reverse manner. This way, it will show up beautifully through the transparent bottles.

A snuff bottle painting can last hundreds of years without any change in color, and can be treasured for generations. Prices of items in the studio range from RMB 10,000 to RMB 30,000

What I appreciate:
Superb painting skills

What customers appreciate:
Miniature bottles easily to be kept



Among the numerous shops in Beijing featuring Tibetan handicrafts, Heavenly Eyes is one of the best. It is easily accessible, located just a few steps south of the Lama Temple on Yong He Gong Street.

Inside, I found 3 rooms which house every type of Tibetan handicraft imaginable. Once I entered, I felt like being in Tibet. The oval black and white stones in the inner room quickly caught my eyes. As I examined them, the owner came and told me that these stones are called Tianzhu stones. They are used to make bracelets and necklaces.

He went on to tell me about the stories behind them. There are lots of legends about this magic and rare stone. One is that it was used by other celestial bodies as a communication to the people on the earth. Another believed that it was endowed by a Goddess to ward off diseases and spirits. All Tibetans believe that Tianzhu stone can bring people luck and happiness.

Also available in the shop are Thangkas, colorful handicrafts, and Tibetan style fashion accessories.

The owner is a friendly Tibetan, who has learned to speak some English during his 7 years at the shop.

So be sure to follow the Chinese tradition, and haggle with him!

What I appreciate:
Real Tibetan things represent its history and culture

What customers appreciate:
Lots of choose from, reasonable prices


With nearly 300 years of history, Fujian lacquer thread sculpture attracts collectors and regular people with its uniquely honed technique. And I had the pleasure to see a master of this fantastic art in his studio at the Bai Gong Fang Handicraft museum.

As I entered the studio, which was simply called Lacquer Thread Sculpture, I was stunned by the sight before me. Each piece of lacquer ware was covered with layers of thin golden thread, weaved into beautiful patterns. And none was more beautiful than the image of the Dragon and the Phoenix twisting vividly on the cover of dishes and pots.

So how do they make these wonderful sculptures? Mr. Zhou, the owner, patiently explained it to me. He uses the resin of lacquer trees and mixes it together with brick powder and tung oil. Then he twists the mixture into threads, some as thin as a hair. The application of the thread onto the lacquer ware requires dozens of procedures, including stripping, coiling, piling, and carving. Finally, the surface is covered with pure gold foil, in order to retain the original shine.

Prices of the items in the shop vary a lot. A small plate may cost only RMB 100. Big pieces with delicate threads can cost around RMB 2000.

What I appreciate:
Unique and beautiful technique

What customers appreciate:
A great choice of styles and size, wonderful workmanship


Most chopsticks are plain, both in color and in shape. But for parties and occasions when you want to bring out "the good china", YunHong offers just the right matching chopsticks.


One of a dozen outlets in Beijing, the YunHong shop in DaShiLar has a large selection of sandalwood and china chopsticks decorated with Peking opera masks, animals, classic novel figures, auspicious flowers, and much more.


Their Peking opera series, my personal favorite, comes with five pairs of chopsticks and five chopstick holders for RMB 130. Each pair has a special opera mask engraved in detail.


Also popular are the 4 Classics Series (RMB 150), with designs from the most famous novels in ancient China. Although 3 are unknown in the west, the Romance of the Three Kingdoms should ring a bell for video game players.  


Other products included engraved sandalwood bowls and spoons, all perfect to make your table set a little bit of Chinese.


Prices generally start at RMB 58 for chopsticks and accessories. The shop assistants speak a little English, and they are quite friendly. They told me that foreign tourists love their chopsticks as gifts during their tour in Beijing.



What I appreciate

Chinese classic "Journey to the West" chopsticks


What customers appreciate

Beautiful chopsticks and great prices


For those who don't have particular gift ideas, or simply don't have time to shop around, TianXiYuan has a "world of handicrafts" to offer you. Located in the Qian Men area by the Forbidden City, the store comes with over a hundred types of traditional Chinese handicrafts.


Inside I found Peking opera masks, paper-cuts, cloth dolls, kites, Chinese knots, lanterns, figurines, and everything else imaginable. Most were handmade, and each a piece of work of art.


For something particular to Beijing, the Peking opera mask (RMB 100) is a good choice. I also liked the paper-cuts, where papers are cut into beautiful designs. This is a rare folk art in China today, and the products are sold at TainXiYuan from RMB 35 to RMB 600.


Prices at RMB 15 for trinkets like a beautiful lucky bracelet, so they're quite affordable. The shop has over half a century of history, and is experienced with customers from around the world. Shop assistants spoke some English, so communication shouldn¡¯t a problem.


What I appreciate

Paper-cuts, welcoming atmosphere


What customers appreciate

Beautiful products and huge variety

Beijing pictures, Wooden Engravings

When it comes to buying handicrafts and accessories from the land of Tibet, one should not miss Ping Gu Zhai in Xuanwu District. I loved the shop¡¯s a large variety of everyday products from the Himalayan region, mainly the Tibet.


As I walked through their long exotic aisle into their well-lit showroom, I was amazed by their extensive array of items. Colorful prayer flags, rosaries, and prayer wheels only covered a small portion of their selection.


Sherry, the shop owner, told me that their tangkas¡ªTibetan scroll painting of the Buddha-- and carpets were all quite old. They were also more expensive than similar items in other Tibetan shops. For example, a twenty year old tangka was priced at RMB 3000. And it was not even their most expensive tangka. ¡°Their originality and antiqueness make for them all worthwhile¡±, Sherry explained.


While their carpets and tangkas targeted collectors, most of their items were still priced for casual shoppers, for as low as RMB 10. Sherry and other 2 shop assistants spoke a little English, and were experienced in dealing with foreign customers. The shop also offered discounts to repeat customers.




What I appreciate

Great Tibetan handicrafts


What customers appreciate

Great Tibetan handicrafts, good service

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Beijing Shopping: In ancient China, women often used flowers to make cosmetics, as it could make skin smooth and soft. Nan Er Chun, a tea shop in Ma Lian Dao Street, features a special flower tea designed for ladies. M...