What Does Guilin Mean?

The names of Chinese cities often reflect physical features of the place they're in. Beijing 北京 means "Northern Capital"; Hong Kong (Xianggang) 香港 means "Fragrant Port"; Foshan 佛山 means "Buddha Mountain" (named after a holy mountain in the city).

Guilin 桂林, the home of CLI, means "Forest of Osmanthus", named after the countless Osmanthus trees that line every street in the city. Osmanthus is a fragrant flowering tree that blooms in autumn in Guilin. Its off-white, yellow, and orange flowers 桂花 fill the air with a sweet perfume that puts just about everyone in a great mood.

Many locals collect the flowers and dry them in the sun to be used for brewing a sweet, fragrant Osmanthus tea that is enjoyed by itself or mixed with Chinese tea. Osmanthus tea 桂花茶 is so popular in Guilin, you can even purchase bags of it in convenience stores.

Bottom line: If you visit Guilin, don't leave without sampling a cup of the city's namesake.


Still curious about Guilin? Watch this video we produced called Guilin is Beautiful.

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Based in scenic Guilin, China, CLI is a leading center for Chinese language and cultural studies.