All things Chinese tea, food and culture.

Hello Tea Cup

Hello Tea Cup

An authentic magazine about all things tea, food and Chinese culture.

Recent Tea Posts

8 Delicious Szechuan Cuisine Dishes (With Food Video Recipes)

8 Delicious Szechuan Cuisine Dishes (With Food Video Recipes)

As one of the Eight Famous Cuisines in China, Sichuan (or ‘Szechuan’) food has gained its popularity around the country for its unique style: pungent, spicy, full of exciting flavours. As a matter of fact, more and more gourmets outside of China are getting hooked […]

History of Haiwan Tea Industry

History of Haiwan Tea Industry

With a history of over a thousand years of tea cultivation, Yunnan has given rise to many famous tea professionals. Zou Bingliang and Lu Guoling are among the best of the generations of “tea people” (Cha Ren) in Yunnan. Since the 50‘s, Zou and Lu […]

Chinese Cooling Tea Recipes!

Chinese Cooling Tea Recipes!

If you are drinking some kind of cooling tea in China, most likely you will hear people ask you questions involving this term “Shang Huo”. Literally means “rising fire”, in Chinese Traditional Medicine, Shang Huo refers to “suffering from excessive internal heat” caused by the imbalance of yin and yang in human body. The symptoms of Shang Huo include sore throats, hot flashes, swollen gums, yellow urines, red eyes, ulcers, etc.

Drinking cooling tea made of herbs with cooling properties is a popular way to diffuse the internal heat, therefore to ease the symptoms of Shang Huo. We have selected a few Chinese cooling tea recipes for you – tasty, effective and easy to make. Hooray!

Honeysuckle and Liquorice Root Tea
Honeysuckle and Liquorice Root


  • 5 g liquorice root
  • 5 g dried honeysuckles


Pour 300 ml boiling water over ingredients and infuse for 5-10 minutes. Drink when the infusion cools down. This tea can go without honey or sugar as liquorice root is a natural sweetener.

Chrysanthemum and Goji Tea

This herbal blend is great for improving eye sight.


  • 5g dried chrysanthemum
  • 5g dried goji berries
  • Optionally add rock sugar to sweeten the taste


Pour 300 ml boiling water over chrysanthemum and goji berries; infuse for 10 minutes. Drink hot, or let it cool down and store in fridge; add rock sugar to sweeten the flavour.

Hawthorn and Bamboo Leaf Tea

Bamboo leaf tea is silica rich while hawthorn berries are great for the heart.

Hawthorn and Bamboo Leaf


  • 3 g dried bamboo leaves
  • 5 g dried hawthorn berries
  • Honey for additional sweetness


Pour 300 ml boiling water over bamboo leaves and hawthorn berries; infuse for 5-10 minutes. Drink when the infusion cools down; add honey for additional sweetness.

Mint and Lemon Tea

Get yourself a vitamin boost with mint tea leaves while squeezed mint leaves soothes the stomach and improves digestion.

Lemon Zest and Mint


  • 5 g lemon zest
  • 15 fresh mint leaves
  • Honey to taste


Pour 300 ml boiling water over lemon zest and mint leaves; infuse for 5-10 minutes. Drink when the infusion cools down; add honey to taste.

Moreover, you can refrigerate and turn them into iced teas to make them even more refreshing!

History of Chinatea (Zhongcha/CNNP/COFCO) – Kunming Tea Factory

History of Chinatea (Zhongcha/CNNP/COFCO) – Kunming Tea Factory

As one of the four main Pu erh tea factories, Chinatea (Zhongcha), also known as China National Native Produce & Animal By-Products Import & Export Corporation (CNNP), has been through a series of significant changes. 1944 – The Yunnan Tea Corporation was founded on December 16. […]

How to Make Orange Peel Tea? Recipes, Food Pairings & Health Benefits

How to Make Orange Peel Tea? Recipes, Food Pairings & Health Benefits

Who wouldn’t want to have an orange for a healthy snack? Oranges are known to have plenty of health benefits together with their juicy, delicious taste. Usually, people eat the flesh of this fruit and just throw the peels away. To save these peels and […]

What is Purple Tea? Types & Benefits Explained

What is Purple Tea? Types & Benefits Explained

In China, purple tea refers to tea cultivars that is related to the mainstream Yunnan large leaf tea subspecies var.assamica, the cultivar used for producing pu erh.

Purple Tea Is Not A Tea Category

We all know about green tea and black tea, but is purple tea a new type of tea category? The answer is: no. Teas are classified based on the processing method applied. The term ‘purple tea’ refers to a tea cultivar, which can processed in any type of tea such as green, black, oolong or pu erh.

2 Types of Purple Tea

What many don’t know is that there are two types of purple tea in terms of raw leaves: one is Zi Ya (紫芽), and the other is Zi Juan (紫娟). We’ll discuss the differences below.

Zi Ya (Purple Bud)

Zi Ya literally means ‘purple bud’. They are naturally mutated in the wild of Yunnan. It usually growing in the areas with high altitude and strong sun exposure, such as Menghai,  Yiwu and Lincang.

Generally, the bud and the first three leaves of Zi Ya are purple, the rest of the leaves are dark green. Zi Ya can be produced into raw and ripe Pu erh tea. Although the fresh leaves of Zi Ya are purple, there is no distinguishable difference in its infusion colour compared to regular tea.

The taste of Zi Ya leaves lies between wild arbor tea leaves and old cultivated garden tea leaves: smooth, full-bodied with strong sweet aftertaste. Because of its rarity, the price of wild Zi Ya is relatively high. However, due to the increasing popularity, Zi Ya is nowadays also cultivated resulting in more affordable prices.

zi ya purple tea
Zi Ya purple tea (loose)

Zi Juan (Purple Beauty)

In 1985, researchers of Yunnan Tea Research Institute found one unusual tea tree in a huge tea plantation. It had purple buds, leaves and stems. Compare to Zi Ya, its fresh leaves were smaller and thicker, the purple colour was darker and with a hint of green, more like violet.

Its infusion is purple-ish too, with a thinner and stronger flavour than Zi Ya. It’s cultivated into larger scale using vegetative propagation methods.

If you’re interested in Zi Juan cakes, you can consider Teasenz’ zi juan purple tea cake offer.

Kenyan growers’ hope

Zi Juan purple tea is also the type that has been recently hyped by Kenyan growers. The country’s production mainly consists of black tea with low margins. By marketing purple tea, farmers managed with some level of success to sell purple tea at higher margins. Some other countries such as India followed.

Zi Juan is often processed and compressed in ripe pu erh cakes, which consists of post-fermented leaves. It’s bitter flavour makes is less suitable for making loose leaf sheng pu erh (mao cha) or sheng pu erh cakes (which doesn’t undergo post-fermentation).

Health Benefits of Purple Tea

The most effective components of both purple tea are anthocyanins. It’s said that the amount of anthocyanins in purple tea is 50-100 times higher than green bud tea.

As one kind of polyphenols, anthocyanins are great antioxidants. They are used for preventing cardiovascular and neurological diseases, circulatory disorders, eye problems and inflammation, protecting the skin from the UV damage and improving skin elasticity.

Further academic research is required to confirm the benefits above, though preliminary results look promising.

I Found Bugs In My Tea!

I Found Bugs In My Tea!

Finding small bugs or even beetles in your tea is disgusting! Yet it might not be a big deal. Tea is a natural product. No matter what quality control a company has in place, there’s always a change that bugs get into the tea. At […]

Top 5 Herbs for Women According To Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)

Top 5 Herbs for Women According To Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)

Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is an ancient medical system formed over 2,500 years and has been evolved ever since. Practices of TCM include Chinese herbal medicines, acupuncture, therapeutic massage (tui na), tai chi, breathing exercises (qi gong) and dietary therapy. These practices have all been […]

Why Starbucks Failed Badly To Make Teavana Enter Heaven

Why Starbucks Failed Badly To Make Teavana Enter Heaven

During the end of 2012, Starbucks announced its acquisition of Teavana, a high-end retailer of loose leaf tea. The coffee chain dreamed big and announced in 2014 that it was ready to conquer the 90 billion dollar tea market. In 2016 the company also decided to accelerate the brand in Asia.

Yet recently, Starbucks announced that it’s closing all its 379 Teavana stores. While most people who aren’t into tea might not find it strange, it came as a huge surprise for the tea community. See for example discussions on forums such as Reddit and Steepster.

So what happened? Why did Starbucks fail so badly in making Teavana a big success? See below our analysis:

1. Tea Isn’t Coffee.

Tea isn’t coffee. Yes, both beverages contain caffeine and are therefore often categorised together. Yet, it’s fair to say that a coffee person is completely different from a tea person, representing a different kind of lifestyle.

Starbucks expected that their coffee experience could help them, but in fact it worked against them. If it was a wine company who bought Teavana, it might have helped. Tea lovers really care about transparency, terroir, processing methods and natural flavours. These are values that premium wine companies also represent.

2. Starbucks Got The Market Size Wrong

The company stated that they’re after a 90 billion dollar market. First of all, the 90 billion estimated market size includes herbals. Without herbal tea, the market is about 40 billion USD in size according to Statistica.

Moreover, 80% of the USA markt is cheap iced tea. Not really the stuff that Teavana intended to target. So then there’s this 20% left of which a tiny part is ‘specialty tea’. Many person with some sense would know that going so aggressive with expansion for such a small market is overkill. Yes, the tea market is a growing industry, but you’ve to get the speed and timing of the expansion right.

2. Selling Tea In Dying Malls

The booming eCommerce industry in the US obviously resulted in a mall apocalypse. Malls are dying and this trend isn’t encouraging the continuation of Teavana stores. Here’s what Starbucks shared in the latest earnings call:

We conducted a strategic review of the Teavana mall-based store business and concluded that despite our efforts to reverse the trend through creative merchandising and new store designs, the underperformance was likely to continue.

3. High Rent

Teavana stores are mainly located in premium malls. They’ve to sell a lot of tea to break even. Yet, the malls are having a hard time maintaining foot traffic as mentioned above. Yet, this doesn’t mean that Teavana can’t do well in less premium locations. The management, however, won’t give this idea a try.

4. Pushy Sales Tactics

Read discussions in forums online, and you can see that the sales tactics of Teavana staff isn’t really loved. Traditionally, tea is bought in a fairly friendly environment. In China, people freely visits lots of store to try out different teas, before they buy.

Teavana staff are trained for fast conversion and purchases. To avoid such an unpleasant environment, people rather order online.

5. Not Artisan Quality Tea

While the Teavana represents a premium brand, the tea sold isn’t that high quality. Experienced tea drinkers will know that they’re paying for the branding and packaging. It’s true that tea drinkers in the US haven’t developed a taste for quality tea yet. However, any brand has to convince this community of tea drinkers to built a reputation online.

6. Competition

Teavana is mainly in the tea blend business offering tea blended with other ingredients. However, it’s hard for them to diversify given that other competitors such as Davids Tea and local tea shops have a similar offering at a much lower price.

7. No Localisation

Starbucks have plans to push the Teavana brand into Asia. Most likely Teavana teas will be offered through Starbucks. Yet, in countries such as China, the locals haven’t developed a taste yet for tea blends.

If Teavana decides to sell local teas such as longjing and biluochun (which they’re currently offering in China under the Tazo brand) it’s not gonna work either. After all, how do you convince a Chinese to buy their own teas from a foreign coffee chain?

At last, they’ve also have strong competition from the bubble tea chains, offering highly tailoired and luxury iced teas. Starbucks managed to offer their coffee menu without too much changes, but will they also be able to do that with Teavana?



Food Facts Across Different Chinese Dynasties

Food Facts Across Different Chinese Dynasties

There is a famous saying in China that says “People regard food as their prime necessity (民以食为天)”. Indeed, food is an important part of Chinese culture. Let’s look back through time and find out those fascinating food facts during Shang and Zhou dynasty (the Bronze […]