Across China: Timeless Chinese tea meets youthful spirits-Xinhua

Across China: Timeless Chinese tea meets youthful spirits

Source: Xinhua

Editor: huaxia

2023-08-04 19:33:15

KUNMING, Aug. 4 (Xinhua) -- At a tea store in Menghai County of southwest China's Yunnan Province, as parents waited in line to purchase ice creams, cakes and coffee infused with Pu'er tea, a time-honored Chinese tea variety from Yunnan, children were captivated by the Disney characters of Mickey Mouse and Mulan featured on the tea packages.

Wang Pengming, a recent college graduate who joined the Taetea Group, a major tea producer and supplier in China, explained that their tea offerings were carefully crafted to appeal to the younger generation.

Wang works in the packaging design department of the company's Menghai tea factory in Yunnan's Xishuangbanna Dai Autonomous Prefecture. Speaking to Xinhua, he mentioned that their department comprises many young individuals who often come up with innovative design concepts.

Among a variety of fermented tea traditionally produced in Yunnan, Pu'er has long stood as a signature tea product of the province. And young people like Wang have injected vibrant energy into the local tea industry.

According to Shao Aiju, vice general manager of Taetea's Menghai company, the average age of their employees is about 35. Since its privatization in 2004, the company has been recruiting highly educated young people each year.

Wang, who pursued a major in visual communication, hails from Pu'er City, an important region for Pu'er tea production. He spent his formative years in the rural area, where his family earned a living through tea cultivation, and after graduation, he wanted to work in the tea industry as well.

Unlike Wang, Peng Lijiao, who graduated from Yunnan Agricultural University four years ago with a major in tea studies, was drawn to Taetea's Menghai company due to the promising prospects of the tea industry.

Speaking of her decision, she said, "In the past, I didn't drink tea at all. But in recent years, with the rise of new Chinese-style tea, many tea beverage brands have gained popularity, and I felt the Pu'er tea industry has great potential that can be tapped."

Shao said that the proportion of university graduates in the company has now reached 40 percent. Moreover, in recent years, they have recruited many postgraduates, who have brought new ideas to the company.

In a corner of the molding workshop, a distinctive pressing machine was producing a steady rumble. "This machine is specifically designed to make smaller-sized Pu'er tea called 'little golden brick,'" said Liu Hong, who works there.

She went on to explain that traditional Pu'er tea is compressed into fixed-sized discs and the process requires the use of special tools to loosen the tea before drinking.

To cater to the younger generation that values convenience and efficiency, Taetea has introduced smaller tea packages, each perfectly portioned for a pot of tea. "Such products sell well, and this year the sales are bound to rise again," Liu said.

Since 2012, Taetea has established several tea houses in metropolises such as Shanghai, Guangzhou and Kunming, as well as in the Republic of Korea, in the hope of creating "Starbucks of Pu'er tea." These trendy establishments have brought traditional Chinese tea closer to the younger generation.

Inside a Taetea outlet, a delightful array of new Pu'er tea products awaited, ranging from milk tea, ice cream and cakes to instant tea and herbal tea, as well as "coffee-Pu'er," an enticing fusion of coffee and Pu'er tea.

"Young people play a major role in today's consumer market," said Peng. "Connecting with the young generation is an important way to revitalize the ancient tea."

Taetea Group is not alone in this endeavor to attract young people. Gaoligongshan Tea Company in the city of Tengchong in Yunnan has been building a tea cultural park, which includes a campsite and garden for tourists. The company has launched a variety of Pu'er tea products ranging from hand cream to hair conditioner.

According to Yang Huiyu, who works in the company's publicity department, tapping into the youth market requires meeting their varied demands.

"We have introduced a wide range of products to entice them into incorporating Pu'er tea into their daily lives, with the hope that they will gradually fall in love with it," she said.