The entrepreneur's haven

By Zhong Nan, Zhou Lanxu, Ren Xiaojin,Chen Meiling, Wang Ying in Shanghai, Jing Shuiyu, Liu Yukun and Liu Zhihua | China Daily | Updated: 2019-02-11 11:18
Martin Papp, founder of Papp's Tea, a tea business in Beijing. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Reinventing tea for Chinese palate

When a typical Chinese customer walks into Martin Papp's store-it has well-arranged, colorful canisters covering the walls, and glass jars filled with unknown herb blends in the middle-he might wonder whether the store really sells a commodity with thousands of years of history in China: tea.

"When I came to China, I found almost none of my friends of my age really wanted to take me to drink tea," said Papp, the 32-year-old US citizen who started his tea business Papp's Tea in Beijing four years ago. "That was when I saw the opportunity in China to really show that tea can also be very fresh, new and exciting," he said.

Traditionally, Chinese people drink tea hot, which is usually made by a single type of tea leaves. At Papp's Tea, however, the brew could be hot or iced, pure or blended, and even sparkling-that is, a fermented, carbonated tea drink called Kombucha.

By introducing various innovations of tea inspired by customs in different cultures to Chinese customers, Papp is trying to "reinvent tea" in China and change the old-fashioned image of tea among many young people here.

Last year, Papp's Tea became profitable and doubled its revenue compared with 2017. Papp is now building up his own Kombucha factory and plans to expand online business-to-consumer or B2C distribution channels in 2019.

"This is just the beginning," Papp said, adding his ambition is to make Papp's Tea the premium brand for healthy, all-natural tea in China.

The Chinese market is a great place to innovate, Papp said, as customers are "hungry" for new products. "That can be very different from some other countries."

He divides his time between Beijing and Los Angeles. Papp enjoys whatever the two different cultures bring to him. After all, it is diversity that fosters innovation, something Papp is always dedicated to.

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