On 4 February, the New Chinese style tea chain Sexy Tea announced that it has collaborated with heritage bookseller Xinhua Bookstore on a concept space that holds both a tea house and a bookshop. The location is on the historic Taiping Street in Changsha, Hunan, the hometown of the tea brand.
The concept space is named “翻书阅岭” (fan shu yue ling, lit. turn pages and read the hills). It is a play on the idiom “翻山越岭” (fan shan yue ling, meaning trample over hill and dale). Sexy Tea and Xinhua Bookstore calls the concept store “New Chinese Style Space Experiments”. And experiment with space it does. The three floors are named after the “three states of reading” from Remarks on the Song Lyric and Human Condition by Wang Guowei (sometimes translated as Poetic Remarks in the Human World by Wang Kuo-Wei), a classic in Chinese literary criticism from the early 1900s.
Each floor is furnished with concept shelves and displays, each hosting themed collections about Changsha and Hunan, tea and coffee, as well as traditional Chinese culture and the Chinese New Year. The bookstore also houses several themed installations such as a flappable wall of books in the stairwell and calligraphy wall decoration.
With over 80 years of history, the brand Xinhua Bookstore evokes a nostalgic feeling of reading. Being the “largest and only country-wide bookstore chain brand in China”, the state-owned Xinhua Bookstore is the only available bookshop for many smaller cities and towns before the advent of e-commerce. By collaborating with the historic bookshop brand on a historical commercial street, Sexy Tea tries to tap into the culture and the “New Chinese Style”, which is picking up its pace even further this year.