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The Pao Family Tea House was a tea shop owned by Pao in the Lower Ring of Ba Sing Se. During the time that Iroh served as tea-maker, the shop became very popular. The tea house was frequented by citizens of the Lower Ring searching for a place to relax and talk over a cup of tea.[1]


Shortly after Iroh and Zuko arrived in the city, Iroh managed to get them jobs at this tea house as waiters. After discovering that the tea was terrible, however, Iroh began brewing his own tea and eventually became the shop's official tea-maker.[1] From that point on, the shop grew to be enormously popular, and Iroh's reputation as the finest tea-maker in all of Ba Sing Se spread throughout the city. One of the shop's frequent customers was Jin, a local girl who developed a crush on Zuko.[2]

Shortly after the two were hired, Jet entered the shop and accused Iroh and Zuko of being firebenders; when the former Freedom Fighter attempted to provoke Zuko into defending himself with his bending, the banished prince snatched a pair of swords from a nearby guard and accepted the challenge. Much of the shop's furniture sustained some serious damage or was completely destroyed during the fight as both boys used them as cover or a means to attack. The fight escalated to the point where Jet threw Zuko through the window. As the fight continued on the streets, a couple of Dai Li agents were able to stop it, and arrested Jet after the tea shop owner accused Jet of wrecking his tea shop and assaulting his employees.[1]

Quon convinced Iroh to leave the Pao Family Tea House, having promised a new apartment and tea shop for him.

Iroh's tenure as Pao's tea-maker came to an end when a wealthy businessman, Quon, tried to poach Iroh's tea making skills by offering him a new apartment in the Upper Ring and his own tea shop, over which he would have complete creative freedom. Although Pao offered several promotions in an attempt to keep Iroh at his shop, the prospect of having his own tea shop and seeing his lifelong dream fulfilled proved to be too great of a temptation; Iroh accepted the offer, and thus resigned from Pao's tea shop.[3]

The tea shop, however, managed to stay afloat even after Iroh's resignation, as it served as a hiding place for Pao, Jin, and some other customers who were all sheltered in the building when the Fire Nation conquered Ba Sing Se and their soldiers swarmed the city.[4]


The tea shop was a small family business located in a single-story building in the Lower Ring of the Earth Kingdom capital. A stone step, two wooden pillars flanking the door, and an overhanging welcome sign marked the entrance to this small tavern. Each pillar was decorated with a green lantern. During the day, these lanterns made the plain shop look cheerful and helped it stand out against the larger buildings that flanked it, and at night, the lanterns were lit, inviting passersby to come in and enjoy a cup of freshly brewed tea.[1]

The building exhibited four windows, all facing the street. The windows were made of light brown wood and each had matching shutters. The windows were on hinges, allowing them to swing fully open to let in the warm air of the Earth Kingdom and to allow the sweet, inviting aroma of tea to spread to the traffic on the street out front.[1][3]


The house consisted of one big room that accounted for almost the entire size of the building, and one small back room. The larger room was divided into a customers' and a workers' area by a wooden counter.[1][2]

Customers' area

The customers' area features eight tables.

The bigger part of the house was the customers' area. It contained eight basic square wooden tables with matching benches to sit on. Four tables were placed at each side of the shop, leaving a broad pathway in the middle for the waiters. They were placed far enough apart to allow the waiters to maneuver freely from one table to the next for refills, but close enough to create the cozy atmosphere of a local family business.[3] The tables were sized to accommodate two people facing each other while enjoying their tea.[1][2][3]

Paintings of animal designs were hung on each of the room's walls, each artistry different than the other. A shelf supporting two teapots gave the tea shop a more authentic feeling. A small table with a plant on top was located next to the door.[2][3]

Workers' area

The workers' area is located at the back of the shop.

Separated from the customers' area by a wooden counter, the workers' area was only a very small part of the shop. The counter was split in two by the broad pathway dividing the shop that gave the waiters easy access to the tea-brewing area. A supply cabinet, supporting many shelves with bags, pots and kettles, was placed against the left wall in the corner, while a ladder provided access to the supplies stacked on the high shelf on the right. Under this shelf were numerous intricate nature paintings. Located between these shelves was the entrance to the small alcove that contained the stone fireplace where the various teas were prepared and the sink to wash dishes. Three plain yellow tapestries were strung over the entrance to prevent the smoke of the cooking fire from rising and filling up the main room.[1][2]


See also