Summer is here, and people are meeting up to drink more ice tea — served with ice and dry ice — in the afternoons, setting off a consumption trend that has gone viral on social media platforms.
Chinese ice tea — different from the stove-boiled tea that is a staple of winters — is a cold brew whose fresh leaves draw out its vibrant flavor. The tea is made beforehand, put into clear glass bottles, and served with fresh fruit, ice jelly and ice dumplings.
When water is poured onto the dry ice, a misty atmosphere pervades instantly, making it just the perfect offering for consumers in summer.
By May 3, there were more than 3.8 million views of Chinese ice tea on short-video platform Douyin, while it was viewed 1.58 million times on lifestyle sharing platform Xiaohongshu.
"Chinese ice tea requires a huge amount of ice. Enterprises may need to purchase ice machines. In addition, as the misty atmosphere created by dry ice doesn't last long, merchants should consider how to make up for user experience," said Xu Ran, an analyst with market information provider KamenClub.
She said ice tea providers could consider increasing the use of electric stoves so that consumers can boil fruit tea after the mist settles. They could also offer enticing snacks to hold on to consumers, she said.
"For enterprises, the threshold of Chinese ice tea is higher than that of stove-boiled tea, as cold-brewed tea needs to be made six to eight hours before serving, and needs to be refrigerated," Xu said.
Pusuu Tea Space launched Chinese ice tea in mid-April, Gong Jianxiang, director of the Beijing-based tea house, said.
At a price of 398 yuan for about 2-4 people, Chinese ice tea has become popular among consumers, he said. The per capita consumption of Chinese ice tea varies between 65 yuan ($9.4) and 80 yuan currently, depending on the ambiance of the cafe in which it is served.
"Chinese ice tea creates a fancy atmosphere that consumers are happy to share on their social media platforms. It has become an A-lister," Gong said.
He said content homogenization exists among stores, and that merchants, in addition to offering Chinese ice tea, should provide products with their own unique characteristics to retain consumers.
"The popularity of Chinese ice tea reflects consumer demand for emotional value. They need products that can make them feel relaxed. Merchants should grasp the opportunity to offer high-quality products and services for sustainable development," he said.