“Oriental Leaf” is ten years old. Is instant unsweetened tea still the worst drink?

Speaking of "Oriental leaves", whether you have drunk it or not, you must have heard of it, and even have the negative impression of "you can only look at it from a distance and not play with it".

In 2016, Oriental Leaf was listed as the top 5 most difficult drink in China. When an honest person confesses that he likes to drink, there will often be a comment that "this is Oriental leaves" and is suspected of advertising.

Sugary drink lovers think it is not sweet enough without sugar; tea lovers who are used to making fresh tea think that it is like "worn overnight tea" and "mineral water with only a piece of tea", without freshly brewed sweetness or Astringency.

However, Oriental leaves have never been optimistic about 2011 until 2021, and quietly occupy most of the ready-to-drink sugar-free tea market.

More and more people who once said that the oriental leaves are ugly, now they are "really scented." Behind this, apart from the support of other production lines of Nongfu Spring for Oriental leaves, there are also changes in market trends and consumer tastes.

Once we couldn't let go of sweetness, now we take the initiative to take a bitter taste. Sugar-free, zero-calorie, ready-to-drink, original leaf extraction… The many characteristics of Oriental leaves have become the biggest selling points of many teas after ten years. The spring of ready-to-drink sugar-free tea may arrive calmly and slowly.

"All bitterness and sweetness" in the sugar-free tea market

The advertisement "Nongfu Spring is a bit sweet" is well-known, but the Oriental leaves of Nongfu Spring are notoriously "not sweet."

In 2011, when the Oriental leaves were first born, "not sweet" was out of date. At that time, most consumers did not take health into consideration, but a drink was "good or not".

▲ The old version of the king of tea.

At that time, the unified "Tea Liwang", which was also sugar-free pure tea, had just exited the mainland. From the consumer side to the product side, the market was still immersed in the sweet wave of sugar-flavored tea. From taste to price, Oriental leaves were the focus of netizens at that time.

In 2013, the China Quality Association conducted a consumer satisfaction survey in the tea beverage industry. Suntory ranked first in satisfaction and Oriental Leaf ranked second in satisfaction.

In a flash of ten years, the selling point of tea beverages has changed from sugar to sugar-free. Low-oil, low-sugar, and low-fat diets are universally recognized as the correct diet, and sugar control is a manifestation of self-discipline.

▲ Suntory Oolong Tea.

According to Ipsos's 2019 survey report, no additives (such as preservatives, flavors, etc.), pure natural and pollution-free raw materials, and sugar-free or less sugar are the three elements for consumers to judge the health of tea beverages. In the outdoor consumption survey in 2020, the penetration rate of ready-to-drink sugar-free tea is 25%.

The "most ugliest" oriental leaf not only survives to this day, but also occupies more than 50% of the sugar-free tea market. Chaliwang, who withdrew from the mainland market in 2011, also returned in 2019. In the unified 2020 financial report, Chaliwang was highly praised for its "revenue growth in 2020".

The most unsavory top5 has reached the top sub-category top1, which has the feeling of being a god of war by the king of the dragon. However, unlike the novel's sudden and dramatic counterattack, Oriental Leaf's success is not without a trace.

Tea is similar to coffee and is a hobby product. Ready-to-drink sugar-free tea is not universally accepted at the first sip, it may be drunk three times before being in love. However, once consumers accept it, there is a great chance of becoming a stable customer base.

Oriental Leaf has recognized the trend and patiently cultivated the sugar-free tea market. It has been dormant for nearly ten years to complete a slow heat. It seems to challenge the patience of consumers, but it is actually cultivating consumers' habit of drinking sugar-free tea. Just like Sima Yi of the Three Kingdoms, it is important to live long, and the ability to be good at defending and judging the situation is also indispensable.

Under this logic, the "moisturizing and silent" of Oriental leaves and the "coming back" of the king of tea are both the "bitterness and joy" of the sugar-free tea market.

▲ Various sugar-free teas.

On the occasion of the tenth anniversary of Oriental Leaf, the low-sugar market was also logically listed as a "strategic field."

According to data from Frost & Sullivan Consulting, the retail sales of sugar-free tea beverages in my country continue to grow rapidly. In 2019, the retail sales were 4.1 billion yuan, and the compound annual growth rate from 2014 to 2019 was as high as 32.6%. Currently, sugar-free tea beverages are still an incremental market.

Oriental leaves are really not bad

There is a mysterious organization within Aifaner-Oriental Shenye Sect, which specializes in accepting "religious followers" who love to drink Oriental leaves. Although the number is small, the members of the group have the same collective honor as the cat group, dog group, and coffee coupon group. Sense and the spirit of friendship.

In order to rectify the name of Oriental leaves, we also personally conducted a blind test. We cold soaked Jinxuan Oolong with more than 200 yuan and 1 tael for 3 hours, and found that the taste is similar to Oriental leaves, but the taste of Jinxuan Oolong is more bitter Some. My friend "Xingjun" loved to drink freshly brewed tea since he was a child. In his opinion, the oriental leaves are probably equivalent to the taste of freshly brewed tea after two or three times, but there is no freshly brewed tea aroma.

▲ Cold soaked Jinxuan Oolong.

Not only the powerful Oriental Shenye Sect, but many consumers also like Oriental leaves very much, and many of them have the habit of drinking tea. They believe that as a convenient tea, oriental leaves can be drunk without breaking the throat, health without burden, and a balance between time-saving and taste, and it is a must for quenching thirst in the summer heat.

The main "tea appraisal lion" at station B is a professional tea critic. After his evaluation, the oolong tea from Oriental leaves is indeed the original leaf tea, but the taste is very light, like a fragrance of Tieguanyin that has been diluted many times.

The positioning of Oriental Leaf has never changed. It is a ready-to-drink, portable sugar-free real tea extract beverage. Behind the controversy are consumers' different standards for a tea beverage. Oriental leaves are directly comparable to freshly brewed tea, which is mostly insignificant. However, it is normal for consumers with different tastes to like the taste it presents in its own craft system.

For example, "Golden", which loves both freshly brewed tea and sugary beverages, prefers the sugar substitute beverages of Yuanqi Forest. "It is lighter than real sugar, but the soda and sugar flavor are still there." In her opinion, Oriental leaves do not have the sweetness and fragrance of tea, nor any flavor similar to sugary drinks, so it is her "untouchable type."

Only on behalf of me, the four classic flavors of Oriental leaves are good, but they can’t accept green orange Pu'er. It smells like orange peel soaked in water, and the taste is like a bitter Chinese medicine.

Is "sugar-free tea" a false concept?

"In 1267 AD, steamed green tea traveled east to Japan; in the 15th year of Zhenguan, black tea spread to the Western Regions via the Ancient Tea Horse Road; in the 17th century, Chinese oolong became popular in England. Traditional Chinese tea, magical oriental leaves." This paragraph 10 years ago The ad slogan appeared in the paper-cut style advertisement, giving the oriental leaf Chinese tea the background.

▲ Oriental Leaf's advertisement ten years ago.

Some people say that "sweet-free tea" is a pseudo-concept, and tea is not inherently sweet. This is not unreasonable. Chinese tea should be sugar-free, and sugar-free tea is just relative to over-sweet beverages.

China is the birthplace of tea, and it is also the world's largest producer and consumer of tea. However, there is a natural separation between the traditional tea drinking culture and the processed tea that is reaching young users.

Tea with its own bitter taste embraces everything in the catering industry, such as milk, cheese, fruits and pearls. It also needs to be transformed into various forms, such as teabags, instant tea bags, and tea concentrates. The appearance is higher, the taste is more, and it is more convenient to drink.

▲ A small lotus jar with a pleasant tea color.

Among the ready-to-drink tea beverages, sugar-free pure tea seems to restore the original taste of tea, but in the eyes of some tea enthusiasts, it cannot be counted as tea. It is at the bottom of the traditional tea culture contempt chain and price chain. .

Regardless of Yangchun Baixue, or even Liba people, there are thousands of ways to drink tea. The premise of all this is that we still need tea.

From ignition and cooking to real tea extraction, from hot pot warming to cold brewing in ice water, from traditional cups to modern bottled drinks, the taste of tea flows in Dingzhan cups and pots, which are the basis of many drinks.

Of course, the industrialization process will inevitably lose the taste of freshly brewed tea, but it can also be a way to inherit the tea culture, closer to the original effect of tea refreshing and calming, and bring a refreshing and unburdened experience.

Japanese tea and tea culture were introduced from China, but when we were worried about the dilemma of tea culture, Japan has earlier explored a path where traditional tea culture and the food industry are mutually exclusive and mutually reinforcing. Sugar-free tea accounts for more than 80% of the Japanese market, and tea bags, tea powder, and ready-to-drink tea have already penetrated into Japanese daily life.

▲ Suntory advertising.

Interestingly, Ito Garden and Suntory in Japan all use tea raw materials from Fujian. Especially Suntory, it played the Chinese card in the brand strategy from the beginning, and it has continued for more than 30 years. Not only does the promotional copy highlight China, Suntory's advertisements have also been filmed in China many times, extracting the characters of traditional Chinese paintings, and Fujian Oolong tea has become a quality representative in the eyes of the Japanese.

China has the best original leaves, and tea companies can use them everywhere. The threshold of the beverage industry is not high. How to find more suitable and high-quality raw leaves and how to use modern technology to control quality is the path to construct a moat for ready-to-drink sugar-free tea. Many brands at home and abroad have done this. For example, Oriental leaves use antioxidant technology to lock the natural and translucent tea soup, and Itoen uses a specially designed "preservation bottle" to reduce the impact of sunlight.

▲ A fresh-keeping bottle with 70 cuts. Picture from: FBIF Food and Beverage Innovation

Tea has always been closely connected with our lives. "Try new tea with new fire" can have another interpretation at the moment. A new "fire" is inevitably taking shape. Modern technology is used to try to lock the bitterness and sweetness of tea. , May also have a distant resonance with the traditional old order.

Grapes are not the only fruit.

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