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Tea from Britain Booming in China, the Drink’s Birthplace

For three centuries, countries in Asia and Africa have been quenching Britons' thirst for tea, supplying dried leaves worth millions of pounds every year

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An employee packs boxes of tea at the production line at Taylors of Harrogate's tea packaging facilities in Harrogate, England, Aug. 30, 2016. Image source: VOA

Ji Mengyu sinks into a soft chair with her cup of tea to the sound of tinkling teaspoons and light chatter. The opulently decorated Victorian tea salon is quintessentially British, something straight out of Downton Abbey. Except it’s in Beijing.

The 25-year-old HR professional is one of a growing number of Chinese who are looking past their country’s ancient tea traditions in favor of imported British blends. For Ji, the tea has an aura of luxury and quality, and gives her a sense of partaking in the posh British culture popularized globally by TV shows and fashion brands.

“I think British people’s traditional customs and culture have a kind of classical style,” says Ji, who says she’s inspired by TV shows like Downton Abbey, but also Sherlock Holmes and Game of Thrones.

For three centuries, countries in Asia and Africa have been quenching Britons’ thirst for tea, supplying dried leaves worth millions of pounds every year. Now, that trend is showing some signs of reversing. China and Hong Kong in particular, are seeing a surge in appetite for British tea blends – some of which are made with leaves from China itself, an example of the twists in trade that the globalization of tastes can create.

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Upscale tea blends from storied British companies like Twinings, Taylors of Harrogate and Hudson & Middleton occupy increasingly more space on shelves in Chinese supermarkets, restaurant menus and online shops.

Tea houses serving British afternoon tea have sprouted up in the bigger cities in China. Five years ago, Annvita English Tea Company managed ten tea houses around China, serving imported blends and pastries in British-style tea rooms. The number has since grown ten-fold, with more planned.

“It fits the taste of people who want to pursue a higher quality of life,” says Li Qunlou, general manager at AnnVita English Tea House in Sanlitun in Beijing.

As a result, British tea companies selling premium blends have seen their exports to China and Hong Kong skyrocket.

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In the first five months of 2016, British tea exports to Hong Kong nearly tripled in value compared with two years earlier. They doubled to the rest of mainland China, data from the U.K. HM Revenue & Customs show.

Shipments to China and Hong Kong only make up 7 percent of total British tea exports, but the share is growing quickly.

Some of these deliveries come from Harrogate, a small town in northern England that is the home to Taylors of Harrogate. The fourth generation family-owned company has been selling tea to China for more than 10 years. In the past three years, sales have more than doubled every year, albeit from a low starting point.

“China produces nearly one half of the world’s tea, so on the surface you would think that there is a limited opportunity for Taylors of Harrogate,” says Matthew Davies, Head of International Sales at Taylors of Harrogate.

Tea originates from China and has been a central part of the culture for thousands of years. In Britain, tea was not introduced until the 17th century, though it has since become a staple and adapted to local tastes.

Every day thousands of tea samples arrive in Harrogate for the tasters to evaluate. The business essentially relies on their taste buds to find the right mix of leaves to maintain the signature flavors that the company bases its reputation on. Chinese customers mainly buy Taylor of Harrogate’s Earl Grey and English Breakfast tea.

“Our approach was to invest time and resources to understand consumer behavior and we found that there are a number of Chinese consumers with a high level of discretionary income and demand for Taylors of Harrogate brands,” says Davies.

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The demand is growing mainly among China’s wealthy middle class and is fueled by portrayals of British high society featured in TV shows, news stories of the British royal family and classical novels like Jane Austen’s, analysts say.

“Previously, Chinese consumers were more exposed to American culture, McDonalds and Hollywood-style things. These few years, because of the popular British TV dramas, Chinese consumers are more exposed to British brands and the lifestyle,” says Hope Lee, senior drinks analyst at Euromonitor International.

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Another reason for the thriving popularity of British imported tea is the seemingly endless string of food scandals that plagues China and Hong Kong.

Greenpeace and government investigations found high levels of pesticides or poisonous earths in tea, also in some of the best-known brands. Imported premium British tea brands are perceived as being safer and of higher quality.

Paradoxically, some of the British tea sold in China and Hong Kong is originally grown in China. However, it represents only a small amount of British exports there – about 3 percent, according to Frost & Sullivan, a market research company.

British tea makers mainly import leaves from Africa and India, regions where the taste for British tea blends has not grown in the same way, for economic and cultural reasons.

Despite the recent slowdown in the Chinese economy, Taylors of Harrogate and many other companies and industry experts are optimistic about the country’s consumers.

“We are continuing to strengthen our lengths in China,” says Davies. (VOA)

 

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China pays Tribute to Mahatma Gandhi, Celebrates Gandhi Jayanti in Beijing

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Mahatma Gandhi
Mahatma Gandhi

Beijing, Oct 02: China on Monday celebrated the 148th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, with the India Embassy in Beijing releasing commemorative postage stamps on the Ramayana.

Many Chinese nationals offered flowers to a statue of Gandhi at Beijing’s Chaoyang Park, while school children recited his famous quotes in Mandarin on a nippy overcast day.

“Gandhiji looked forward to a day when a free India and a free China could cooperate in friendship and brotherhood for their own good and for the benefit of Asia and the World,” Wilson Babu, Charge D’Affaires at the Indian embassy, said.

“Leaders of our two countries have been striving to build strong India-China relations based on Gandhiji’s ideals of world peace and respect for all human beings.”

In Shanghai, the Indian Consulate organised a series of events including a memorial lecture, screening of a documentary film and a painting completion for children of the Indian community.

Mahatma Gandhi has become increasingly popular in China, with many Chinese researchers studying his ideology of non-violence.

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was born on October 2, 1869, in Porbandar in Gujarat to Putlibai and Karamchand Gandhi. (IANS)

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Dangal continues its Victory march, becomes the Highest Grossing Bollywood Film in Hong Kong

"Dangal" currently has an overseas total of $217.17 million and worldwide collection of $297.68 million (including India)

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Dangal movie
  • Dangal becomes the highest grossing Bollywood film in Hong Kong with a collection of 23.45 million Hong Kong dollars
  • “Dangal” has crossed the lifetime collection of Aamir’s 2009 film “3 Idiots”
  • The film has been backed by Disney India and Aamir Khan Production.

Mumbai, Sep 23, 2017: Bollywood superstar Aamir Khans sports drama film “Dangal” is continuing its victory march at the box office worldwide and has become the highest grossing Bollywood film in Hong Kong with a collection of 23.45 million Hong Kong dollars.

As confirmed by the film’s spokesperson, “Dangal” has crossed the lifetime collection of Aamir’s 2009 film “3 Idiots”, which minted 23.41 million Kong Kong dollars in the country.
“The film released in 46 screens in Hong Kong and Macau which is four times more than the regular screen count for a Hindi mainstream release,” said Amrita Pandey, Vice President – Studios, Disney India.

Also read: Despite Testy Ties, Bollywood Movie ‘Dangal’ that addresses Social Themes and Stars Actor Aamir Khan captivates Audiences in China

“The local audience’s overwhelming response reaffirms that an inspiring story backed by the right team, distribution planning, superior storytelling with such strong performances — can win hearts and transcend boundaries, and ‘Dangal’ exemplifies that,” Pandey added.

The film has been backed by Disney India and Aamir Khan Production.

Based on the life of Mahavir Singh Phogat, an amateur wrestler, who trains his daughters Geeta Phogat and Babita Kumari to be world-class wrestlers, the film also features Sakshi Tanwar, Fatima Sana Shaikh and Zaira Wasim.

“Dangal” currently has an overseas total of $217.17 million and worldwide collection of $297.68 million (including India).

(IANS)

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India Progressing Better than US, China in Digital Healthcare

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Digital Healthcare
Digital Healthcare in India. Pixabay

New Delhi, Sep 22, 2017: India has progressed better than US and China in terms of its specialist doctors adopting digital modes to interact with patients and prescribe medicines, a study revealed on Friday.

According to the study, gap in US between the face-to-face medicines and medical representatives triggered mails narrowed down from 15 per cent in 2015 to 12 per cent in 2017. The study stated that digital channels are slowly but surely gaining ground over traditional ones. This year, the gap further narrowed to around 12 per cent.

 “India witnessed the narrowing of the gap between face-to-face tablet and medical representatives triggered mail from 34 per cent in 2015 to 8 per cent in 2017,” said the study conducted by Indegene — a company offering research and development solutions to healthcare and pharmaceutical enterprises.

The highest number of specialist who have adopted digital platform to deal with patients are Cardiologists, General Surgeons, Pulmonologists, Endocrinologists, and Oncologists.

(IANS)