What you need to know

The tea drinks market has been impacted by the pandemic, with the RTD tea segment experiencing losses due to limitations on outdoor activities and festival gatherings, significantly dampening demand for Asian herbal tea. In contrast, teabags have gained in market share thanks to increased in-home consumption occasions, as well as active local players’ fast market penetration through e-commerce.

Uncertainties brought by the pandemic have fuelled demand for managing emotional wellbeing, and tea drinks have been strongly associated with stress relief. Moving forward, Mintel believes there are opportunities in product innovation to feature functional benefits and welcoming trendsetters to bring inspirations to the market.

Key issues covered in this Report

  • The value of market segmentation in 2020

  • How key market players are counteracting the pandemic

  • Influences from the instant coffee market

  • Changes in the tea drink tradition

  • Consumer attitudes towards sugar substitutes in tea drinks

  • Growth opportunities in functional benefits and emotional wellbeing

Covered in this Report

Report Scope

This Report examines the China market for tea infusions and tea drinks. The following tea categories are included in the scope of the Report:

  • All packaged black, green and other RTD tea drinks, such as Asian herbal tea (凉茶), milk tea, oolong tea and jasmine tea

  • Packaged tea infusions (in tea bags format): standard and other black, green, oolong, white teas, fruit & flower and Asian herbal, Pu’er Tea and yerba mate.

Market sizes exclude loose tea and tea powder products. However, these are covered in consumer research where relevant to provide a context for comparison.

Market size is based on sales through all retail channels (off-trade) and non-retail sales (on-trade or HoReCa).


Mintel defines those consuming tea drinks ‘once a day or more’ and ‘several times a week’ as heavy users, ‘2-3 times a month’ and ‘once a month or less’ as light users, ‘haven’t drunk this in the last 6 months’ as non-users.

Mintel divides consumers into three groups based on their monthly personal income (MPI).

Figure 1: Definition of low/middle/high personal income groups, by city tiers
Tier one cities Tier two, three or lower cities
Low MPI RMB 5,999 or below RMB 4,999 or below
Middle MPI RMB 6,000-9,999 RMB 5,000-8,999
High MPI RMB 10,000 or above RMB 9,000 or above
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