China to set standards for tea drinks

By Dominique Patton

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Coffee

China's food authority is working on new standards to lift the
quality of ready-to-drink tea beverages, a booming segment of the
drinks industry.

The country's food quality and safety body, AQSIQ, has set up a team of experts to draft standards on the components, labelling and additives permitted in tea-based drinks, it told It is not known when the standard will be finished. Tea drinks now make up a fifth of China's beverage market, after the products took off in the late 1990s following a similar trend in other Asian markets like Japan and South Korea. But there are concerns that many consumers are buying them because they consider them to be healthy when some of the products do not even contain any tea. "Though this market is booming, a lot of problems still exist and more are coming out,"​ admitted Ms Qian from the China Beverage Industry Association. She said that "some of the so-called tea drinks in the market are not real tea drinks"​. Tea polyphenols, L-Theanine caffeine and protein are all necessary elements for tea beverages and sugar content must also be controlled for low-sugar or sugarless tea drinks. Standards are also needed to limit the additives used in tea drinks. Further, a spot test on tea drinks by AQSIQ found that about 10 per cent of a sample of different products sold in the market did not meet hygiene and safety criteria. Production of tea drinks has seen rapid growth in China, with the fastest growth in 2001 reaching 2.53 million tons, almost 20 per cent of the world's total. Since then, annual growth has slowed but volumes are still expanding. Tea drinks now account for 20 per cent of the soft drink market, with Uni-president and Kang Master (owned by Ting Hsing Food) leading the category. Last year the industry produced 5.83 million tons, with a value of CNY33 billion (€3.24bn). Additional reporting by Pan Yan.

Related topics Policy Beverages China East Asia

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