The golden formula of “plant milk + sugar-free tea” achieved the subsequent new tea drink explosion.

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China is the birthplace of tea. However, the development of ready-to-drink tea in the modern sense has only a history of fewer than 30 years. Today, ready-to-drink tea has contributed several super single products to the industry and made the tea beverage market scale, becoming one of the top three categories in the beverage industry.

But as the tea beverage consumer market gradually matured, in today’s health consumption has become the central theme, tea beverages urgently need to find new growth poles to boost the category reconstruction and expansion.


Tea beverages enter the era of mindfulness, and the category welcomes a new inflection point for development.

Tea beverages enter the era of mindfulness, and the category welcomes a new inflection point for development.

According to Euromonitor data, China’s tea beverage market has exceeded 100 billion, and the scale is expected to reach 114.4 billion yuan in 2021. In the hundred billion tea beverage market, the industry has tended to homogenize from the past five years. Market share gradually to the head of the traditional tea beverage brand concentration, the lack of new categories and new brands among the head. It is reported that only one of the latest brands born in the past five years has been among the TOP 10, which is an excellent opportunity for the new generation of brand companies with strong strategic, digital and organizational capabilities to break the existing market pattern.

Thomas Kolopoulos, one of the pioneers of global business researchers, said in “The Circle Effect” that the future of business can only be successful if you know how to lean on this generation of young people. So, let’s take a look at the changing needs of the beverage market from the perspective of the new generation of consumers. From the global and Chinese tea beverage development, the consumer market has entered the era of mind. The consumer demand for healthier, more and more functional growth.

On the one hand, more and more young consumers prefer less sugar or sugar-free drinks because of health and slimming claims, valuing the naturalness, quality and less added ingredients. It is reported that in 2020 the sugar-free tea market officially stepped into the 5 billion camps, proliferating. In terms of market potential, nearly 95% of China’s tea beverage market is occupied by sweet tea (high sugar content, fewer tea polyphenols, added tea powder rather than tea extract). In comparison, 90% of Japan’s tea beverage market comprises sugar-free tea (mainly tea extract, more tea polyphenols). From 5% of the market share breakthrough, from the sugar-free tea “reverse fate” when there is still much room for development.

On the other hand, with the upgrading of consumer demand, consumers want to drink more nutritious than milk, more delicious, more with the concept of sustainable development of the drink. Nielsen data shows that more than 76% of consumers in China are now more willing to consume plant-based products. At the same time, there are many lactose intolerant and suspected lactose impatient people in China, and these are potential consumers of plant-based milk. As plant-based milk takes root in the Chinese market and gains momentum, this plant-based force is sweeping through the tea beverage market in a spark-like manner, with many tea stores beginning to use plant-based milk as a substitute for animal milk. From the perspective of category prospects, plant milk against the 100 billion milk big road is expected to achieve a new generation of single large product.

From the first bottle of tea beverages on the market, the history of category development, basically every 5-10 years there will be an “inflection point” appeared, the introduction of iced tea kicked off the prologue of the tea market, Kang, the entry of the system to promote the rapid development of tea, and in 2015 the popularity of fruit flavoured tea, but also the achievement of new tens of billions of brands. Comprehensive above, we can find that “sugar-free” and “plant-based” are becoming the unique genes of the current beverage market explosion, are expected to become the new “inflection point” of the tea beverage category.


Let tea early layout, the launch of new plant milk tea.

At the advent of the new inflection point, from 2021, we can clearly perceive that under the accelerated layout of significant enterprises, the plant-based drinks track is accelerating expansion. On the one hand, industry giants and new consumer brands such as Yili, Mengniu, Nongfu Shanquan, OATLY and Ozark have entered this track one after another, making the plant-based beverage market extra lively. Some data show that since 2020, plant-based milk has been expanding significantly in both online and offline channels in China, with data from e-commerce platforms claiming that China’s plant-based beverage market grew as much as 800% in 2020. The number of purchases rose 900%, not least because of the outstanding contribution made by plant-based milk, which is expected to exceed 300 billion yuan in 2025. On the other hand, the plant-based beverage category has accelerated its fission, deriving new types such as plant yogurt, oat milk, padamone plant milk, almond milk and lentil plant milk.

Oat milk, which started in the European and American markets, has maintained a nearly frenetic market growth rate in the Chinese market in the past two years. Nielsen data show that within seven months after the epidemic outbreak last year, the growth rate of oat milk reached 212%, ranking first in all food and beverage categories. The main reason oat milk can quickly gain consumer recognition is that the taste and texture of oat milk are closer to milk and have a higher protein and fibre content. This is in line with the current demand of millennials and Generation Z to pay more attention to high quality and healthiness when choosing products.

As plant-based milk consumption explodes, the market continues to welcome new players. Recently, Food Board received a private message from several distributors that a new category called “plant milk tea” has emerged, again expanding the plant milk market. It is reported that the concept of this plant milk tea category was launched by a company called Jean Tea Group; the company was founded in 2020, is focused on “convenient and healthy tea” FMCG company.

So, what kind of product is plant milk tea? By looking at the information, the food board learned that let tea plant milk tea is a new category of products that take “enzymatic oats + real tea extract” plant milk; the product does not contain a drop of milk, does not contain sucrose, while low fat. In fact, the milk tea category we are not unfamiliar with, in recent years to Yuanqi forest, Yili Yiran and other brands have launched milk tea products, but the primary use of milk as a base. The plant milk tea compared to animal milk tea, its use of the enzymatic oatmeal process so that the product has a milk available cream texture, the product mellow and nutritious, which undoubtedly more in line with the needs of consumers want to drink healthy. In particular, for lactose intolerant and suspected lactose impatient people, plant milk tea is undoubtedly a good choice.

Compared to traditional plant milk, especially oat milk products, the tea base in plant milk tea is the first tea broth extracted from the original leaves of natural tea, which makes the taste of the product based on oat milk mellow, more with tea flavour, providing consumers with a better drinking experience.

It is easy to see that Jean Tea plant milk tea is a new category of products launched by Jean Tea Group in combination with consumer demand, compared to traditional plant milk or animal milk tea. This is deeply compatible with the brand positioning of the “new generation of healthy tea drinks” proposed by Jean Tea. Through understanding, the food board found that since its inception, let tea has been focused on the field of tea, but different from the traditional tea drinks, from its launch of “other mountain set” tea bags to “let tea” pure tea, and then “let tea “fruit-flavoured tea and the recently launched “let tea” plant milk tea, it has been adhering to the natural, healthy and ecological properties of tea drinks, forming a “new generation of healthy tea drinks” professional FMCG product matrix.


Relying on the channel, marketing double strength Look forward to the future development of plant milk tea.

As a new category, plant milk tea relying on product power to kill thousands of new products each year but also needs to have outstanding advantages in the channel and brand level. Let tea has been stationed in 60% of the provinces and cities across the country and has been stationed in nearly 100 convenience store systems such as Rosen, Boxcar, Yonghui and Convenience Bee. In addition, it is also constantly expanding the brand potential of let tea through the form of cross-border co-branding of famous IP, advertising, new media communication and so on.

At present, relying on the channel power and brand power, let tea plant milk tea listed in the first-tier cities, coastal and critical cities as a window, focus on virtual channels for market deepening, is quickly reaching the target group.

“Laozi” has a famous saying: “The wood of the hug, born in the mill. The redevelopment of the category needs new seeds, and let tea is the “planters” of the first seedlings of plant milk tea. This is also in line with the original intention of the establishment of let tea, to do “a new generation of healthy tea drinks.” I believe that in the channel, marketing double force, and constantly strengthen the competitive strength of the product, let tea will make plant milk tea become a new choice for more consumers healthy life.

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John Lau.

John Lau.

John Lau, a project manager holding an engineering bachelor's degree, became fascinated with optimizing beverage production equipment during his university days. As an overseas project manager, he firmly believes that educating clients on achieving efficient workflows through customized equipment design is one of the most impactful aspects of his job.

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