Tue, 27 Oct 2020

Barista of Zhima Jiankang makes herbal coffee, Sept. 25, 2020 (Photo provided to Xinhua)

BEIJING, Oct. 4 (Xinhua) -- Goji berries boil soft, their juice is mixed with milk to foam, espresso is added in, and a few berries are sprinkled on the top -- a goji berry latte is ready.

In a Beijing-based coffee shop, names combining traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) ingredients and Western coffee, such as goji berry latte, hawthorn and rose americano, and osmanthus fragrans and sugar snap pea cappuccino, appear on the menu.

The shop, Zhima Jiankang (Zhima Health), is affiliated with Tongrentang, a prestigious TCM pharmacy in China with a history of over 350 years.

Tongrentang introduced herbal coffees last October, bringing the time-honored brand to the attention of China's youth.

"Young people often suffer from sub-health or diseases due to high pressure and irregular work schedules. Therefore, it is essential that they take care of their bodies in their daily lives, helping to reduce the risk of disease," said Yu Ruixuan, head of Zhima Jiankang.

Diet therapy is an easier choice for young people to regulate their bodily health as they do not care much for TCM, said Yu, adding that herbal coffee, as a type of diet therapy, is easily accepted by young consumers.

"Our herbal coffee has nutritional value: the choice of coffee beans, ingredients, and preparation procedures. For example, the white sugar in traditional coffee is replaced by linden honey produced by Tongrentang," she said.

China's younger generations now care more about their health regimens. In TCM theory, regimens are closely related to the 24 solar terms, developed thousands of years ago as the seasonal divisions in the traditional Chinese calendar.

Three to five new herbal coffee products are introduced roughly every 15 days in accordance with the 24 solar terms, to combine with these regimens.

"It is now the autumnal equinox in solar terms. We have introduced several new products which are combined with roses, such as a Chinese motherwort and rose latte, and a hawthorn and rose americano," said Liu Wei, a senior dietitian of Zhima Jiankang.

According to TCM theory, people tend to feel down in autumn, and roses are effective in relieving depression, Liu said.

Coffee robot in Zhima Jiankang makes herbal coffee, Sept. 25, 2020 (Photo provided to Xinhua)

In addition to coffees only sold at specific times, some coffee products -- like the goji berry latte -- are also popular throughout the year.

Goji berries, or wolfberries, are mild and sweet in taste. They are suitable for all ages and good for patients with cardiovascular diseases. They can also nourish the body and improve eyesight, so young Chinese people often drink goji berry water after staying up late, Liu said.

The shop now sells about 100 goji berry lattes each day, and that number quadruples over weekends.

Not all TCM materials can be mixed with coffee. Some side effects may occur, said barista Zhang Kai, adding that the brand's coffee developer, TCM pharmacist and dietitian evaluate the safety, efficacy and taste of each new product before it is introduced.

Zhang sometimes recommends particular coffees to customers to suit their physical conditions and needs. He might make a licorice root latte for someone who says they often feel hot and annoyed, because licorice root can counteract heat in the body.

In addition to the herbal coffee and tea sales area on the first floor, Zhima Jiankang also offers the services of health workers, such as TCM doctors and dietitians.

"If a customer feels unwell for no reason, but it is not serious enough to go to the hospital, we may recommend they see the TCM doctors on the second floor for a diagnosis, and then prepare a suitable drink for them," Zhang said. ■

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