Living in California, I consider the serving size Tall to be small; Grande, medium; and Venti, large. There’s also Short; it’s like a mini.
Starbucks doesn’t have sophisticated sounding name for sizes in Chinese. They are literally small, medium, and large. But in China and Taiwan, the serving of each is smaller.
小杯 (xiǎo bēi), small cup, is 8 oz. and is equivalent to the Short in the U.S.
中杯 (zhōng bēi), medium cup, is 12 oz. and equivalent to the Tall.
大杯 (dà bēi), large cup, is 16 oz., equivalent to the Grande.
Venti, Italian for 20, is 20 oz. and 特大杯 (tè dà bēi), extra large cup, in Chinese.
小中串大尖 (xiǎo zhōng chuàn dà jiān)
The character for small, 小, looks like 八, eight, divided by a long vertical line. We learned 八 before at Noah and the Eight Souls post. So when you order a small coffee at Starbucks in China, remember it’s an 8-oz. Short, not a 12-oz. Tall as you might have in mind.
The character for medium, 中, which also means center or within, looks like a piece of meat or tofu with something stuck through its middle.
Two 中 (zhōng) characters on top of each other, 串 (chuàn), means string together or connect. Picture satay, kebab, or yakitori. These are all different delicious 串燒 (chuàn shāo), literally strng together and barbecue, foods!
The character for large, 大, looks like a person with arms and legs wide open.
So what’s small (小) on top of large (大)? It’s 尖 (jiān), meaning sharp, pointed, or tip. Just picture a needle pointing up or a mountain with a wide base and a small top.
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