Trendy tea house brand creates a stir

Updated: 2015-08-19 11:16

By Tan Yingzi(China Daily)

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Trendy tea house brand creates a stir

A fashionable NenluTea outlet in Chongqing, where customers sample NenluTea drinks. [Photo/China Daily]

"Domking will hold slightly more shares than us, but we are in charge of the management of NenLvTea," Liao said. She is still the president and her American husband Joseph Ashizawa remains the CEO.

Due to the fierce competition and high operation costs in big cities, Liao will focus on the market in southwestern China before NenLvTea goes to Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.

She has the background to be successful. Liao went to the United States at 15 years old and later graduated from the University of Washington in Seattle.

After working at Wells Fargo, a multinational banking and financial services company, she met her future husband Joseph, who was an aerospace engineer at Boeing. The couple moved to Chongqing to join the family business in 2008.

But like many second-generation children of China's entrepreneurs, Liao disagreed with her parents about how to run the family business. As a compromise, she stayed in Chongqing with her husband, but started a separate company, the NenLvTea.

As an ancient drink in China, tea plays an important role in people's life. Traditional tea houses are still extremely popular, but the country's younger set have fewer chic choices.

"We want to fill this blank market of the middle-ranged modern tea houses that meet the needs of young customers," Liao said.

Inspired by the coffee culture in Seattle, the hometown of Starbucks, she decided to sell tea in a modern and innovative way. Her team invented a method of making tea from coffee machines and a series of new drinks and products, such as Teappuccinos.

The NenLvTea chain combines Chinese elements with modern design, which offers a relaxing place for customers.

"Our first tea house opened next to a Starbucks coffee shop," Liao said. "People used to think NenLvTea was a foreign brand too."

Nearly 70 percent of the customers are women, and about half of her clients are aged between 20 and 30 years old. "So far, most of my tea houses make profit," she added, saying that revenue of NenLvTea reached 30 million yuan last year.

Miao, the Domking shareholder, is confident that the sector will continue to expand in the years ahead.