A man's refreshing cuppa quenching a thirst

Gu Zhonggen runs a streetside herbal tea stand in downtown Hangzhou. When temperatures reach 37 degrees Celsius or higher, he hands out free homemade teas to passers-by. 

Gu Zhonggen serves a cup of homemade herbal tea for passers-by. The streetside tea stand, held in the hottest summer days, has become a sight in downtown Hangzhou. 

Gu Zhonggen runs a streetside herbal tea stand near a bus stop on Jianguo Road M. in Hangzhou. When temperatures reach 37 degrees Celsius or higher, he hands out free cups of herbal tea to passers-by. 

It has been a family tradition Gu has held for more than 40 years. Every year during the 40-day sanfu period, the hottest days in summer, Gu’s free herbal tea provides a welcome moment of relief from the city’s sweltering heat. This year it started on July 17 and will run through August 25.

Gu says the free-tea tradition began with his grandma, who owned a grocery store. She would offer homemade herbal tea to attract customers on sanfu days. In 1977, with the help of his mother, Gu started to run the tea stand and felt it his responsibility to keep it running in the old way. 

Gu learned how to do all the chores and preparations to keep the stand running all by himself, despite being in his 80s. 


Weather permitting, Gu Zhonggen sits by the streetside to take care of the free tea stand with volunteers. 

Now he’s got volunteers from the Changmingsi Community to help him out during the sanfu period. 

Members from the Most Beautiful Herbal Tea take turns to brew the herbal tea and clean the teacups. 

Students from the China Academy of Art have also helped design a multi-function hand-cart for Gu to carry his facilities. 

Gu says it’s a good tradition and he feels happy that the young people are ready to carry it on from him.


Volunteers from the Changmingsi Community have been taking turns to look after the tea stand and offer free herbal tea to passers-by on sanfu days. 

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