Monday, April 14, 2008


China is the birth place of tea, it's also one of the largest producers of tea, however China does not have a strong solid brand.

Brand is an image, a recognition of quality, a culture, also a champion of competition. What's said here is what a commercial entity projects its product image and build up a solid position in the market. The most successful cases are in the western world, IE Coca Cola, Nike, Starbucks, and Lipton of course. The sad thing is Lipton is recognized, but not so much of its quality to some discriminating tea drinkers. You know who you are. :P I supposed it's even more sad that most people do perceive Lipton as an image of quality. One day I'll get killed by a Lipton assassin.

Lipton is a British company, however given the history of colonization, we can pretend Britain did produce tea on its soil. If we compare China and Britain, Lipton is far better in branding itself with few competitors. China on the other hand have many private labels, but not one dominating brand which I can think of. Tian Fu perhaps?! Tian Fu is arguable. I can visualize many fingers pointing at me already.

There are 70+ thousand tea factories in China as of today. Each one is competing for market share locally. When it comes to global market, there is not a contender can measure up to Lipton. 75% of green tea are from China, why are they labeled as Lipton green tea or Tazo green tea instead of say EGCG green tea -"East Green Camellia Garden"? Just a fake thought. :P


toki said...

may be the cost of branding a company is an unfamiliar venture to the Chinese market. Say Coke have a 20 million per year branding/image consulting fee.... All will change after the Olympic, I hope : ) -Toki

Entropyembrace said...

Perhaps it's a good thing that Chinese tea is unbranded? It seems like all the different little plantations, factories and such each with their own varietals and methods are what make Chinese tea so interesting, with so many varieties of tea to explore. Chinese tea is so much more diverse than the line of teas you see in a brand like Twinnings or Tetley.

Imen said...


During Ming and the entire Ching dynasty, the Jun merchants had very strong export tea brands for over 500 years. The Mongolians still look for it today even though it's no longer own by the same people and the tea taste different. I am not sure whether it was as dominating as Coke tho.

It'd be interesting to see that happen one day from the business point of view. :)


Small farms and estate teas will not go away no matter what. These small productions will not be able to support branded products either.

Branded teas will only work with a limited selection from a few categories of tea rather than each varietals of teas. Large production is the key to branding.

Even if you had 500 major types of teas, there are still thousands different types of teas out there for the discriminating bunch to explore.

Branded items are aimed for the vast everyday consumption, but not the connoisseurs.

Your needs and branded needs are 2 separate lines of product. So don't worry, you will not be limited by it. :)

Michel said...

Hello Imen, could I have your email?
Thank you