China 'Sexy tea' shop apologises for calling women 'bargains'

A popular Chinese beverage chain has apologised for using sexist slogans on its merchandise, after they sparked widespread outrage online.

Sexy Tea shop had referred to women as a "bargain" on one of its mugs, adding that customers could pick up women while waiting for their drinks.

The shop had in the past also sold tea bags with the slogan "Master, I want you" along with images of tadpoles.

The shop later said it had no intention of "disrespecting women".

It added that it would recall its latest range of mugs and was "very ashamed" of its latest creation.

The Sexy Tea shop had recently put out a range of "Changsha dialect mugs" - a dialect spoken predominantly in the capital of Hunan province. The chain has a reported 270 outlets there.

It printed various local phrases on the mug, including the phrase "jian lou zi", which in slang refers to picking up a deal for cheap.

It then gives an example of 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".

A picture of the mug went viral on Chinese social media site Weibo and quickly attracted a barrage of criticism.

"This is vulgar marketing," one person on the platform said.

"It's not the phrase itself that is insulting - its the sentence example given by the company," another added. "Didn't anyone in the marketing team see anything wrong with this?"

The company later put out a long statement apologising for its interpretation of the phrase.

"We made a very inappropriate sentence that even people in Changsha did not approve of.... we are very ashamed. We have absolutely no intention of disrespecting women," it said.

"We will immediately recall the batch of Changsha dialect themed mugs and seriously reflect on this incident."

Users are also pointing out that this is not the first time Sexy Tea has used sexually suggestive phrases in its marketing campaigns.

Many pointed out the pictures of tadpoles it had printed on some of its teabags, suggesting that it was used to depict sperm.