Silently: Hey Tea rival Chagee opens hearing loss-friendly location

On 12 January, the “New style” Chinese tea chain Chagee opened its first “silent” location at G.T. Land Plaza in Hangzhou, Zhejiang. Designed to be hearing loss-friendly, the new tea shop is run by staff that includes 5 hearing-impaired members.

Based on the brand philosophy of “Chagee, meet tea & friends”, the slogan for the new location is “meet friends with tea, without words” (桃李不言,以茶会友). This special branch offers opportunities for the hearing-impaired staff members to grow professionally and for the deaf and hard-of-hearing customers to feel looked after. Some of the hearing-impaired staff members were recruited through the Hangzhou Disabled Person’s Federation and include former baristas and a sign language translator.

The new branch also creates an opportunity for the rest of the crew and clientele to work with and learn from the people living with these conditions. With illustrated guides of sign language and blackboards for writing down requests and questions strewn across the shop, as well as ordering through its WeChat mini program, the “silent” Chagee location provides accessible means of communication for all visitors. For people who are interested, the guides can also serve as an educational tool for sign language.

Founded in 2017 in Yunan, Chagee just celebrated its 6th anniversary last November. The chain has been expanding aggressively recently. More specifically, on the same day as the “silent” branch, Chagee simultaneously opened 6 new branches in Changsha, Hunan. In fact, Chagee opened over 2,000 locations in 2023, compared to over 600 in 2022. The chain has now reached 3470 shops globally in January 2024.

The young Chinese tea brand pledges to open even more hearing-loss-friendly stores. In a post on Weibo, China’s Twitter equivalent, Chagee asks followers for suggestions for future locations of “silent” stores. In one local branch, the topic “Chagee silent store” only reached a modest 660,000 views on the platform, however there are many who supported the move in the comments section. This is of course, because raising awareness for the disabled community is in itself commendable.


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