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Chinese Youth Are Infusing Their Own Take on Tea Culture

Chinese Youth Are Infusing Their Own Take on Tea Culture

Too busy to get your daily dose of RADII? We got you every Tuesday with a summary of all the freshest takes on China’s youth culture in the last week.

  • From community-based teahouses to tea-driven cocktail lounges, Chinese youth are modernizing tea culture and making it their own.
  • Chinese MMA legend Zhang Weili scores knockout victory at UFC 275.
  • By embracing sustainable digital efforts such as artificial intelligence (AI) and the internet of things (IoT), China's capital has become increasingly environmentally friendly.
  • 4 wild stories about gaokao 2022, from medical emergencies to lavatory accidents! Exam season always happens to be a colorful period in China.
  • The U.K. has rolled out the world’s biggest four-day work week trial, causing some in China to lament they don’t even enjoy two-day weekends.

Intrigued? Keep scrolling, my friend.

Totally My Cup of Tea: Chinese Youth Rebrand Tea Culture

On a sunny day in Chengdu in China’s southwestern province of Sichuan, I walk into Proper Tea, a small but welcoming teahouse. I am greeted by the enticing scent of roasted charcoal mixed with rich dark chocolate. Finding a decent place to drink tea has taken me a while, but the search was well worth it.

In 1909, the city of Chengdu, which popularized teahouse culture around the 20th century, was home to 454 teahouses spread out among its 516 streets and alleys. However, tea shops are much less popular these days.

In fact, you’re more likely to chance upon a hipster cafe or coffee shop in some parts of the city. Even in a proper teahouse, customers seem to care more about playing mahjong and less about relishing their cups of tea.

A beverage dating back centuries, tea has been discovered in Han Dynasty (202 BC – 220 AD) tombs, but it wasn’t until the Southern Song Dynasty (1127 – 1279) that Lu Yu, known as the sage of tea, penned the first book about the beverage, the Ch’a Ching or The Classic of Tea.

Although tea faces stiff competition from today’s numerous contemporary and imported drinks, some young tea lovers in Chengdu are endeavoring to revive the traditional tea-drinking culture in China.

In generative artist Zeng Siqin’s opinion, labeling personalities as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ is reductive. After all, individuality is nuanced, fluid, and not always easy to categorize.

An exploration of distinct cognitive and behavioral patterns led to Zeng’s latest project titled Flower: Portraits of Personality, in which the artist draws parallels between the sheer variety of flora and multifaceted personalities.

What makes this creative undertaking unique is its crowdsourced ideas. Despite captaining the project, Zeng didn’t make the final call on what each flower would look like; instead, WeChat users had the final say.

For Flower: Portraits of Personality, Zeng started by creating a survey based on the ‘Big Five Personality Traits’ (BFPT) framework. After sharing the survey on WeChat, Zeng fed the results to a self-devised algorithm. The quantified survey results informed the diverse shapes and colors of Zeng’s flowers.

“The generation of petal shape is based on ‘agreeableness’ [in the framework]. For example, petals with gentle curves indicate a higher degree of agreeableness, while pointed petals suggest a sensitive personality that might even be accompanied by a little aggression,” explains Zeng.

In Zeng’s flower portraits, each flower’s features are closely related to scales in the BFPT framework. For instance, the width of a flower relates to a person’s ‘openness,’ its height to ‘conscientiousness,’ its number of petals to ‘neuroticism,’ and the shape of its bud to ‘extraversion.’

For Zeng, both flowers and personalities are bywords of diversity.

“Everyone is a flower. No matter their personalities, they all add colors to this tremendous world. Because of every person’s existence, the world is brighter,” says the artist.

On June 11, Chinese mixed martial artist Zhang Weili stunned fight fans worldwide by winning a highly-anticipated rematch against Joanna Jedrzejczyk at UFC 275 in Singapore.

Not only did the former UFC World Champion defeat her Polish opponent, but she inflicted a spectacular second-round knockout on Jedrzejczyk: A spinning back fist that resulted in Jedrzejczyk tumbling to the Octagon’s floor amidst the roar of the crowd.

After winning the bout, Zhang shouted on the mic, “I want to tell everyone: I am back!”

  • On June 8, Chinese multinational technology company Baidu unveiled Robo-01, a self-driving vehicle developed by Baidu’s electric car subsidiary Jidu Auto.
  • Fans of ‘Squid Game’ in China have expressed their excitement on Weibo, where a hashtag for the show’s second season has gained more than 130 million views.
  • Here’s what to expect from one of China’s most anticipated fashion events, which will be livestreamed on Douyin and YouTube this month!

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