Competition intensifies with new players jostling for market
China’s tea drinking market is estimated to be around 40 to 50 billion yuan ($5.81 to 7.27 billion), according to CITIC Securities. According to China Tea Marketing Association, more than 500 million consumers consumed 1.9 million tons of tea leaves in 2017. As the world’s largest producer and consumer of tea, China is seeing a new trend of tea, brewed by both local and international players, looking to steal young people from the beverage’s long-standing enemy – coffee.
Miao Qin has been a familiar name in China’s food and beverage industry way before he started inWE Tea. As the former general manager of McDonald’s China, Miao was the youngest executive of the fast food chain in China before leaving the company in 2008 and the first Chinese to take the helm.
In 2016, a year after Miao created inWE Tea, the brand received generous funding from Liu Qiangdong, founder of e-commerce giant JD and a MBA classmate of Miao. The 500-million-yuan investment has helped the brand to be the fastest rising player in the industry – opening 30 stores within less than one year. With the experience of introducing McCafe to China, Miao remains confident that the brand will not only have 300 outlets across the country in three years, but will also be mushrooming globally like McDonald’s does in China.
As the founder of tea beverage chain Oritea, Lin Mingjuan is dubbed as “cha san dai”, or a thirdgeneration teamaker. Having worked as a TV reporter, a real estate agent, and an advertising executive, the native of Anxi, Fujian province where one of China’s most famous tea, tie guan yin, is originated, believed she was “born for tea”.
With a tea plantation in Anxi dating back to the 19th century and managed by her family for more than three generations, the 28-year-old noticed a giant generation gap between tea drinkers while traveling between her hometown and Shanghai, where she has been living and working. In 2015, she Shanghai.
With an advantage of getting better and cheaper tea from her own family plantation as well as created Oritea in other local suppliers thanks to their network, Lin found her edge among hundreds of new tea drink brands by offering cold brew tea, which she said is more demand- ing for the quality of the tea leaves.
By locating most of her stores next to office buildings, Lin noted that her customers are mostly “people like her”, aged between 20 to 35 years old and with an interest in Chinese tradition. Today, Oritea has nine outlets in Shanghai, and is planning to expand to 20 cities with 50 stores by 2019.
With 175 stores globally serving some 2.5 million customers, Malaysian bubble tea giant Tealive will soon have its flagship store in Shanghai up and running. More than that, the brand said it would increase its presence in China to 500 locations in three years.
Started in 2010 by a local biotech salesman with zero background in the catering industry, Tealive today sells 1.2 million cups of tea every month and rakes in upwards of 100 million ringgit ($22.9 million), according to CNN.
Its global expansion plan is set to bring the brand to six new countries including India, China and Australia with 1,000 stores by 2020.