World Cup helps tea makers

By Qiu Quanlin (China Daily)
Updated: 2006-07-04 08:29
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Beer might be the drink of choice for most people watching the World Cup, but not in the Pearl River Delta, where herbal tea is the favourite choice.

"Drinking herbal tea instead of beer is my way of celebrating the games," said Zhu Haifeng, who works at a logistics company in Guangzhou.

Residents in the Pearl River Delta, including Hong Kong and Macao, believe herbal tea, which has a history of more than 100 years, is healthy because they believe it cools the body.

For most herbal tea makers in Guangdong Province, the World Cup is providing a golden opportunity to boost sales of the drink, which was named a national treasure in May.

Zhu said drinking tea during overnight football games makes him feel less tired during the day.

Wong Lo Kat, which is widely regarded as one of the top herbal tea brands, is running a score prediction contest during the tournament to help build up its brand.

"We predict there will be another 'herbal tea fever' because of the World Cup and because of herbal tea's new status," said Huang Changwei, general manager of Guangzhou's Wong Chun Loong Traditional Herbal Tea Co Ltd.

Huang predicted sales revenue would hit more than 10 million yuan (US$1.25 million) during the World Cup period.

Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao's cultural departments jointly applied to have herbal tea named part of China's 'National Intangible Cultural Heritage' last year. This was later approved by the State Council.

A total of 18 brands from 21 herbal tea companies, and 54 secret recipes, are now under the protection of the World Cultural Heritage Protection Convention and China's own laws.

"The recognition will definitely enhance herbal tea brands across the country and the rest of the world, boosting development of the industry," Huang said.

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