A popular chain of tea shops called Sexy Tea, Modern China Tea Shop (茶颜悦色), has recalled a range of products brandished with sexist slogans following pressure from Chinese netizens.
The beverage brand had released a range of merchandise that used Changsha dialect, a dialect spoken predominantly in the capital of Hunan province, where the brand was first founded.
The mug designs featured various local phrases including the phrase "jian lou zi", which translates to the slang phrase "pick up the basket", which refers to picking up a "big bargain". It then showed how the phrase can be used, with the sentence: "When I went to buy bubble tea, there were lots of pretty girls there. If you meet one like this, you can tell your friend - I picked up a bargain".
Chinese netizens took to social media to call out the brand for referring to women as a "bargain".
In the brand's first apology, posted from its Weibo account on Friday (19 February), it said the translation of "pick up the basket" had been misconstrued and that in the context it meant "big luck" rather than "big bargain". It said it had not intended to be derogatory to women.
But netizens were not convinced about the translation excuse, so it issued another apology several hours later, in which it said it would "take responsibility for our mistakes". It has since recalled the range of products, plus other similar products created between 2014 and 2015 that featured offensive terms.
The apology, translated, reads: "Following up our previous apology, we apologize. The previous apology was indeed naive in avoiding an old incident. We are now well-aware that it is late to express our apologies, but we still want to express again our apologies, our introspection and determination to correct the mistakes.
"The tea bags with the improper content concerned and other similar tea bags products were created between in 2014 and 2015. Time is not an excuse for us to escape from mistakes.
"The creative thinking is problematic. We acknowledge our mistakes, and we should take responsibility for our mistakes.
"We did not do a good job and offended everyone. We deeply blame ourselves. The greater the influence and responsibility comes with the greater the power. We run off track in the process of growing up, it is inappropriate. But please believe that we are in no way malicious. In the future, we will show more rigorous attitude to create and to speak out."
Additional reporting by Minnie Wang