Lan Su, in Portland’s Chinatown, is not only the best, but the most authentic Chinese garden outside of China. It is a classical Chinese garden, which means that it replicates an urban garden style that came to prominence during the Ming dynasty (1368–1644), when an educated class of scholars, poets, and government officials built walled house-and-garden compounds that were both retreats and private pleasure grounds. In 1999, 65 craftspeople from Suzhou, China (Portland’s sister city), came to construct the garden. The intricately detailed architectural components were made in China and shipped to Portland, along with 500 tons of specially chosen rock. The garden opened in 2000.
Tea in the Chinese Garden
Tea has been a part of Chinese life and culture for over a thousand years. Introduced first as medicine, tea later became associated with Taoist philosophy. Monks used tea to stay awake during long meditation sessions. By the time teahouses became popular, during the Ming dynasty, tea was firmly established as a social beverage, and serving tea had taken on its own elaborate etiquette. At the teahouse, located in the two-story Tower of Cosmic Reflections in the Lan Su Chinese Garden visitors sample authentic Chinese tea and teacakes while enjoying a view of the garden