New-style tea beverages brew up taste for more consumption

TAGS: | UPDATETIME: 2023-12-26

Having enjoyed tea for over 2,000 years, Chinese tea enthusiasts are now welcoming innovations to this age-old beverage, with trends ranging from fruit tea and bubble tea, to blended drinks like chai lattes, which have created a thriving market.

Peng Yonghua, an engineer at the research and development center of a renowned tea company in Jiangxi province, is one of the pioneers to have sensed the pulse and embrace the trend.

"Previously, continual sales were the goal, but in the new market, staying competitive requires constant innovation," Peng says. "Currently, the research process takes around a week, and it's expected to get even faster."

The Wuyuan County Jufangyong Tea Industry Company, where Peng works, entered the innovative tea market in 2014. Established in 2005, it is involved in the entire chain, from growing and primary and deep processing, to research and development and sales.

Orders from tea beverage companies are customized, requiring formulations to be developed in a short time, Peng adds.

"Tea companies are pairing ingredients traditionally considered to be incompatible to give customers novel and exciting flavors, and catering in particular to the adventurous tastes of the younger demographic," says Wu Dongdong, secretary-general of the culinary catering industry association of Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region.

Sought-after tea drink chains make use of niche ingredients like emblic (the Indian gooseberry) and shaddock (a kind of pomelo) peel. These two fruits, grown in southern China, are known for their health benefits, which include cleansing, promoting digestion, and relieving heat.

Online advertisements that strategically highlighted the teas' unique flavors and nutritional value, sparked a social media frenzy, drawing floods of customers.

Upgrading raw materials for newstyle tea beverages requires a shift toward greater nutrition and cost-effectiveness, putting the supply chain, and research and development capabilities of brands to the test, says Cheng Danying, founder of the Guangxi-based Tea Expert.

Data released by iiMedia Research show that in 2022, the market size for new-style teas was more than 290 billion yuan ($40.93 billion), with a year-on-year growth of 5.1 percent. The market is expected to be worth 374.93 billion yuan by 2025.