Culture

Pork-flavoured coffee released by Starbucks for Chinese New Year, 2024. (Screen grab from China News Service)

[Video] China's brewing coffee culture

From diverse specialty blends to a new university programme in Coffee Science and burgeoning cafe scenes across the country, coffee has evolved from an exotic import to an integral part of China's food and beverage culture. With a penchant for ambience and novelty, coffee aficionados in China are reshaping the nation's coffee scene.
A quick sketch of the author's "study room" by Lücha. (WeChat/玉茗堂前)

A study room of one’s own: 21st century Chinese intellectuals and their pursuit of knowledge

Cultural historian Cheng Pei-kai shares the ups and downs of being an avid reader, from the difficulties in keeping his book collection neat and orderly, to the joy of having a handful of treasured books. He marvels at the sketches a friend made of the study rooms of literati, academics and calligraphers who have since passed on. While his study room is crammed with books and looks more like a storeroom, his love for books burns bright like it does for fellow literati.
Television still of Hotel Saltwater (2024). (Internet)

Moving away from the Chinese-language market: The renaissance of 'new Taiwan dramas'

Academic Fang-chih Yang charts the development of Taiwan dramas from the 1990s to the present. She observes that the industry has gone through various shifts, from making idol dramas to China dramas to "new Taiwan dramas" (新台剧). Till today, the experiment continues with the challenge of fitting local stories into global popular genres.
Ladies dressed in Neo-Chinese clothing in Xiamen, Fujian Province, China. (Screen grab from CCTV)

[Video] Redefining daily wear: China's hanfu and neo-Chinese fashion

With over 4,000 years of history, hanfu declined during the Qing dynasty amid Manchu rule and the rising influence of Western fashion trends. While hanfu regained some popularity among youths in the 2000s, it wasn't until the mid-2010s, with increased visibility on social media, in period dramas and through cultural heritage promotion programmes, that it truly thrived.
Now, everyone can read books, listen to music and appreciate beautiful things under the name “Ching-ti”. (Facebook/蔣勳)

This ordinary, extraordinary life: A Taiwanese woman called Ching-ti [Part 2]

Every star in the sky follows its own orbital path — whether big or small, bright or gloomy. What is the last story we vividly remember? What is the last story that we would tell those around us, if there is still someone around? In this second of a two-part series, Taiwanese art historian Chiang Hsun mourns the passing of his dear friend Ching-ti, recalling her charitable heart in the final years as well as the struggle in her final days.
Ching-ti (left) and Chiang Hsun on the second floor of Tung Hua Books after Chiang's lecture on Dream of the Red Chamber, 23 May 2002. (Photo taken by Chen Wen-fa)

This ordinary, extraordinary life: A Taiwanese woman called Ching-ti [Part 1]

Taiwanese art historian Chiang Hsun recalls his memories of his dear friend Ching-ti, from the lectures he conducted in her bakery to the death of her beloved husband. Ching-ti was a generous woman unbothered by life’s trivialities, but was unprepared to face the death of her loved one.
The humble youtiao can be elevated to an art form to please everyone. (SPH Media)

Savouring youtiao in Shanghai: Plain, with soup or pork-stuffed?

Writer Shen Jialu describes his love for youtiao — a simple yet versatile food item, suitable for any occasion. Of course, many others share a common pleasure in youtiao, not least the writer Wang Zengqi, who claimed to have come up with the unique recipe for pork-stuffed youtiao.
People fry youtiao at a stall. (WeChat/玉茗堂前)

In search of Taiwan's perfect youtiao and soy milk breakfast

Cultural historian Cheng Pei-kai takes us on a search for delicious shaobing youtiao and savoury soy milk around Yonghe in Taiwan. While a common breakfast for many, the rich flavours from his youth are not one easily replicated or found.
A publicity poster for Blossoms Shanghai starring Hu Ge. (Internet)

Between Shanghai and Hong Kong: Blossoms Shanghai as a tale of two cities

Academic Ying Zhu observes that in Blossoms Shanghai directed by Wong Kar-wai, Shanghai is vivid, vibrant and evocative of both the glamour of a colonial Hong Kong and the hustle and bustle of a gilded-age Shanghai. The TV drama speaks of the historical relationship between the two cities, and when the bright lights have dimmed, the ruins of the spectacle and the broken dreams. If geopolitical reshuffling in recent years has diminished Hong Kong’s lustre as a first-tier global city and the link between China and the rest of the world, what does the future have in store for Shanghai?