Tea, a national drink of the Chinese, originated in the era of Shennong, or Divine Farmer, and flourished in the Tang and Song Dynasties, nourishing the Chinese civilization for thousands of years with a special aroma. Scented tea is made from finished tea leaves. Jasmine tea, in particular, is made from green tea leaves that are scented with fresh jasmine flowers several times to ensure that the smell of tea and scent of flowers mingle perfectly. It was the special quality and exquisite fragrance of jasmine tea that made it a tribute to the emperor in the Qing Dynasty.
Wuyutai, a Chinese time-honored tea brand, has a history of more than 130 years dating back to 1887, the 13th year of Emperor Guangxu’s reign in the Qing Dynasty. The tea made by Wuyutai has been very popular with the people of Beijing, the capital city of China, and its scented tea blend is even referred to as “Yutai Aroma” by the consumers. Wuyutai tea is well known for its “fresh and lasting aroma, mellow and sweet taste, and clear and bright color”. Wuyutai has won many awards at home and abroad, most of which are international gold awards and first prizes. This has contributed to the continuation and promotion of Chinese tea and tea culture.
Wuyutai’s scenting technique for jasmine tea has been put on the national list of intangible cultural heritage by the Chinese Ministry of Culture and Tourism. The superior quality of the tea builds on the traditional approach to the picking, scenting and blending of tea leaves as well as nine unique processes developed for over a century, namely preparing base tea, selecting flower sources, caring for fresh flowers, mixing flowers and base tea for scenting, spreading out flowers for heat dissipation, separating flowers from base tea, heating tea leaves, heaping and packing tea leaves, and blending tea using Wuyutai’s special recipe. The focus on quality has been in the DNA of Wuyutai since the beginning. The pursuit of perfection can be seen in every process of making tea, for which a strict quality control system is followed. Only tea leaves of high quality are used for making scented tea. Moreover, to ensure the best quality of flowers, Wuyutai even requires that flowers picked in the morning, on cloudy days or within three days after a rain should not be used.
While continuing its focus on quality, Wuyutai has adopted a product strategy of making better scented tea according to market changes and consumer preferences, on the basis of drawing upon its fine tradition. It has skillfully combined time-honored techniques with trendy elements, seeking to add profound implications to its products. It has embraced new consumerism by innovatively applying tea culture to product marketing.
The new varieties of scented tea developed by Wuyutai upend the traditional understanding of making scented tea with jasmine flowers and green tea, providing new choices of flowers and base tea. In September 2021, Wuyutai launched a “Language of Scented Tea” series whose logo is designed in a style of Chinese seal. In addition, the language of flowers is incorporated into the packaging design, giving the products a charming personality. Jasmine, orchid, rose and sweet osmanthus represent four different states of life – seeking no fame or wealth, being righteous, being grateful, and being industrious. As an integral part of the products, such a language sends good wishes to the tea drinkers. Moreover, in collaboration with Guobo Meizhuan, a food culture brand under the National Museum of China (NMC), Wuyutai has launched the first ever co-branded gift box for the “Language of Scented Tea” series. This product fully leverages the cultural implications of the two brands and its design draws inspiration from the painting Baihua Tu (One Hundred Flowers) collected by the NMC. The jars inside the box are exquisitely designed like ancient Chinese painting scrolls. On the body of the jars are the images of orchid, jasmine, rose and sweet osmanthus from Baihua Tu as well as the poem inscribed by Emperor Qianlong of the Qing Dynasty for the painting, which add elements of traditional Chinese culture to the product. The mini-version Baihua Tu placed in the box makes the product a collectable. This new product of Wuyutai has won the favor of many young people on social media platforms. It exposes them to the charm of intangible cultural heritage (ICH) and offers them a chance to share the fruit of ICH protection.
Only by relying on both innovation and tradition, can a century-old brand build its core competitiveness and maintain its vigor and vitality. Wuyutai is now striving to promote the creative transformation and innovative development of fine traditional culture, giving a new look to the ancient craft.