Traditional Chinese Medicine Meets Coffee and Ice Cream in Guangzhou

June 6, 2022

GUANGZHOU – Inside a cafe in downtown Guangzhou, Guangdong Province, there is not only a frenzy of buying coffee and desserts, but also the practice of traditional Chinese medicine.

The store, owned by Tsai Hsiching from Taiwan and his wife, has become a popular TCM treatment and leisure spot since it opened in October 2019.

“We don’t just make specially baked coffee, but offer TCM treatments to our customers,” Tsai said. “Cafés are seen as places for business meetings, as well as platforms connecting young people to TCM.”

Tsai and his wife became certified TCM doctors after graduating from Guangzhou University of Chinese Medicine about a decade ago.

“Young people like to try TCM treatment when they find out that such services are available in the café. Many have become regular TCM customers here,” he said.

Tsai’s boutique, Changtan Coffee, is located in the booming Tianhe district, where there are more than 1,000 cafes of different sizes and styles. Half of them are in the central business district, or about 50 stores per square kilometer.

Tianhe Central Business District has the most Fortune Global 500 companies in Guangzhou. Around 120 companies are headquartered in the district, accounting for 25% of the total.

“There are a lot of young people working around the store. As a result, it is an ideal place to promote TCM by integrating medical treatment with coffee,” Tsai said.

In China, a growing number of TCM pharmacies have introduced coffees that combine TCM and coffee ingredients, such as goji berry latte, hawthorn and rose americano, and snow pea cappuccino.

However, Tsai said they won’t be considering such innovative styles anytime soon.

“We will focus on making specially roasted coffee and promoting TCM processing services,” he said.

In the shop, all coffee is brewed by hand, with beans roasted at light to medium levels.

“We don’t cook the beans too deeply because we want to avoid excessive caramelization,” Tsai said.

Tsai Hsi-ching prepares coffee in her shop. [PHOTO BY CHEN CHUHONG/CHINA NEWS SERVICE]

Young people often suffer from suboptimal health or illnesses due to high pressure and irregular working hours, so it is essential that they take care of their health in their daily lives and reduce their risks, did he declare.

In addition to specially roasted coffee, the shop also designs ice cream infused with MCT ingredients. It has found favor with young customers who value healthy eating.

A few years ago, Tsai’s wife, Su Yun-ya, helped a special dessert shop in Taiwan formulate medicated ice cream. “So I started making it myself in my shop,” she said.

After adapting the properties of the TCM and making adjustments, three types of ice cream are on the menu, flavored with angelica sinensis, turmeric and longan.

“Ice cream embedded with medicinal ingredients of a warm nature tastes a bit magical. It’s very delicious,” Su said.

The packaged ice cream has become a hot seller in the store.

“The ice cream with MCT properties can not only reduce the damage of ice products to health as much as possible, but also satisfy the desires of young people,” she said.

According to Su, some customers who visited the store during business trips to Guangzhou have developed an interest in TCM processing. “They come here to drink coffee, but later become regular customers of TCM,” she said.

The shop mainly offers customers traditional TCM therapies, such as acupuncture and moxibustion. “There will be huge market potential in promoting TCM to young people on the Chinese mainland,” she said.