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Milk tea becomes increasingly popular in China

(People's Daily Online)    17:05, August 07, 2019

Milk tea has won increasing favor with Chinese people in recent years. The beverage has driven a craze and even become a means of social interaction across China.

China reportedly housed more than 400,000 milk tea stores by the end of 2018. On Chinese social media, many people call milk tea a “life-saving beverage”, with some saying “there’s nothing you can’t handle with a cup of milk tea. If there is, then take two cups.”

Younger Chinese generations are the primary consumers of milk tea, with statistics indicating the people between the ages of 16 and 35 account for over 90 percent of new-style tea consumers in China.

“Milk tea has replaced water in many cases,” said Tao Xi, a woman working in a foreign company in east China’s Nanjing, who regards drinking milk tea as a must during summer.

“Water can also quench thirst, but it is tasteless. With milk tea, you have a choice of ingredients such as ice and sugar. Enjoying a cup of milk tea will make you forget how tired you are,” said Tao.

Qi Zimeng, a woman who works in Beijing, claimed herself a “milk tea addict”. Qi even created a WeChat group for milk tea during college, intending to help students living in her apartment building order milk tea.

“I created the group because I wanted to drink milk tea. Now the members have amounted to nearly 300 people. And many orders are made through the group,” said Qi.

Chinese people’s enthusiasm for milk tea has been translated into actual sales figures. “Summer is the peak season for milk tea, when we can sell close to one thousand cups of milk tea each day. And even in the period of slack sales, we sell 500 to 600 cups of milk tea daily,” said a milk tea salesclerk surnamed Chen.

According to statistics from Qianzhen Industry Research Institute, the value of China’s tea-related beverage market reached 53.7 billion yuan (about $7.63 billion) in 2018.

Meanwhile, the milk tea industry has also attracted a lot of investment. Last year, many famous milk tea brands raised over 1 billion yuan in financing, while one of the famous milk tea brands Nai Xue Cha became the first unicorn company in China’s milk tea industry with a valuation of around 6 billion yuan.

The overall sales volume of beverages in China is expected to exceed 60 billion yuan in 2019, while new Chinese-style tea-based drinks are expected to have a potential market size of between 40 to 50 billion yuan.

Furthermore, milk tea is now becoming a means of social interaction in China.

“Buying people milk tea is an informal way to say thanks. Besides, it’s not very expensive, and many people like the drink,” said Zhou, adding that drinking milk tea is now a social trend as well as a good topic for social interaction.

“Whenever I try a new popular brand, I want to share it on social media and talk about it with my friends,” said Zhou.

“Most milk tea is not expensive, and milk tea stores are easy to find. You can buy one anytime you want when you are out shopping. Besides, milk tea is a novel product. Young people who like milk tea are attracted to the fashion culture the product embodies,” said Han Xiaoning, associate professor at the Renmin University of China. 

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Xian Jiangnan, Bianji)

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