Page 1 of
2 After the Coke craze, it's tea time in
China By Olivia Chung
HONG KONG - Chinese youngsters born since
the 1980s have grown up under the influence of
foreign brand names such as McDonald's, KFC,
Coca-Cola, Nike and Adidas. However, many of them,
after growing up, now seem to prefer congee, buns,
domestic sportswear brand Anta, and Wanglaoji, a
brand of traditional herbal tea.
to traditional Chinese medical theory, this kind
of herbal tea, or liangcha, is known for
being able to remove the
"spiritual heat and dampness"
from one's body to retain a healthy balance of the
"basic elements and fluids" in the body.
As more and more young people became fond
of drinking liangcha, sales of the herbal
tea hit 4 million tons last year, overtaking
Coca-Cola as No 1 soft drink in China by sales
volume. Industry insiders are confident that
annual sales could even grow to 25 million tons by
2010, beating Coca-Cola's global sales.
Liu Yuexia, from Lintan county in Yunfu
city, Guangdong province, can tell you by heart
which celebrities have been the image ambassadors
for Coca-Cola and Pepsi-Cola in advertisements.
But when it comes to soft drinks, cola is
definitely not her favorite.
and grandparents told me long ago that [Western]
soft drinks are not good for our body and have
high calories, so I seldom drink cola," the
15-year-old student said. "Drinking
liangcha could help remove the [spiritual]
heat and dampness in my body, so when I have
pimples on my forehead and cheeks, I immediately
drink the herbal tea to speed up the elimination
Several years ago, some
manufacturers, such as Wanglaoji, began to produce
the traditional herbal tea on modern production
lines in cans or soft packs for the convenience of
customers. Liu said she now can have liangcha
any time in any place. Previously, people
would have to buy herbs in herbal shops and boil
them in water at home, or buy liangcha at a
can be traced back to 1813 when Guangzhou was hit
hard by an epidemic. To get away from the city, a
man named Wang Zebang took his family to a
mountain, where he met a Taoist priest who gave
him a special recipe to cure the disease. Wang
then searched the herbal ingredients and prepared
the tea, which proved effective for illnesses.
Wang then opened the first liangcha
shop called Wanglaoji (Wong Lo Kat in Cantonese)
in Guangzhou, and he also made the recipe public.
Over time, the receipt for liangcha
has been altered with the emergence of various
herbal-tea brands that have been passed down from
one generation to another.
traditional herbal teas are popular, said Agnes
Wong, administration manager at Wong Lo Kat Trade
Development Co, which manufactures its own range
of herbal teas in Hong Kong and overseas.
"I remember liangcha being
described as a sunset industry in the 1980s, when
people rushed to taste foreign soft drinks and
food like Coca-Cola and McDonald's. I was once
interviewed by the media to comment on it; I said
that view was wrong.
"This is because the
ingredients of liangcha really work to
protect against climatic influences and relieve
aliments caused by the stressful lifestyle, and
they work with no side-effects. Besides, the
orders from overseas my company receive have never
decreased," the descendant of Wang Zebang said.
Wong said the herbal-tea business on the
mainland and in Hong Kong, including those for
ready-to-take and instant powder, has never been
as good as it is today.
herbal-tea chain stores such as Hong Fook Tong,
Hui Lau Shan, Hoi Tin Tong and HealthWorks have
flourished in Hong Kong, offering various kinds of
tea, with some selling snacks and desserts also.
Across the border, Guangzhou's Wanglaoji and Wong
Chun Loong are the most famous brands. Others