French man William Osmont settled in Yunnan, China, with a background in agricultural machinery education. He helped his wife Yubai, a tea farmer, whose family has been tea farmers for generations, William establish the Yunnan tea brand Farmerleaf and gradually expand into the international market. William mainly promotes through social media. In 2023, he organized a European tour to promote his own brand of tea, holding small meetings with local tea enthusiasts in more than ten cities across Europe.
Photo Andy LeGresley
Alicia Gentili, an American with a Bachelors degree in Socioe conomics, gradually transformed into a new tea maker in Europe through multiple encounters with tea. As a project manager, Alicia worked at a tea plantation in Jersey, UK for over two years, accumulating knowledge of tea production through practical experience. In 2022, she began providing tea processing services and consulting Alicia Gentili Tea Consulting in Europe, and during the tea season, she went to tea plantations of customers in various European countries to help with tea processing and production.
Liu Rui, who started modeling at the age of 16, had a very successful modeling career and won numerous awards. Since falling in love with drinking tea, she has opened up a new direction in her life. During her study abroad in London, she worked part-time as a model and accidentally brought tea and tea culture from her hometown of Guizhou into the international fashion circle. Every Thursday, the alcohol frenzy at the “Thursday Club” in London was also influenced by her, and tea parties were held instead. In 2016, Liu Rui founded the tea brand Grass People Tree in London, specializing in Guizhou tea and currently developing steadily.
Thomas Langnickel-Stiegler, a German, is a freelance advertising writer who, due to his love of drinking tea, has done a lot of advertising planning for several well-known German companies regarding tea. He advocates that brands should not create an image without ground, but should be customer-oriented, tell the brand story well, and actively engage with customers. He believes that in Europe, at least in Germany, drinking tea will become a positive attitude and healthy lifestyle in the near future, and Europeans will be willing to spend more money on drinking better tea. Thomas also hopes to put forward some personal opinions and suggestions to Chinese tea brands that want to enter the German market, and discuss with me whether Chinese tea should bravely show its characteristics and take the initiative to define itself, as well as the international status of Chinese tea culture history.
Katja Hellkötter and Jan Siefke, the Germans who have lived in Hong Kong and Shanghai for many years, are international cooperation expert and photographer respectively. Katja won the Shanghai City Silver Magnolia Award in 2012. In 2015, they opened a co-working creative project workspace C*Space in Berlin, Germany. Freelancers, artists, companies or associations can rent this space to organize corresponding activities. It is worth noting that C*Space have been always setting tea stations in the activities, encourage guests to drink more tea. From 2020, a POP-UP teahouse has been built in the space at a fixed time every Friday, mainly managed by Jan and Lavia Lin, a Shanghai girl. How can this space be inextricably bound up with China, establish more folk cultural exchanges between Germany and China, and promote Chinese tea and tea culture in activities?
Sam Lin, a Dutch Chinese born in Wenzhou, worked as a financial advisor in Amsterdam. Later, he moved to Shenzhen, China with his wife and worked as a project and digital marketing manager. Out of a desire to try, he established the Teasenz online tea shop in 2012. By applying his knowledge in data analysis and online marketing accumulated through his career, his revenue increased rapidly. In 2014, he quit his job and decided to manage his business on a full-time basis. When I asked about some advice for Chinese tea companies to expand abroad, Sam says “Given the large size of the Chinese tea market, I think most tea companies aren’t interested in expanding abroad. However, if they do decide to sell to international markets I advise them to build a professional team, which can bridge differences in culture, language, and understand local preferences.”
Stephan Sun, a German-born Chinese, started his career as a red wine online brand after graduating from economics. In 2016, he developed the tea brand Tea Addicts with his friends Jürgen Pitzschel and Jann-Volquard Posenauer in Hamburg. They are not only active in online social media, but also actively promote on television and radio in several mainstream media in Hamburg. Stephan has visited tea gardens around the world to purchase tea, and has visited several tea regions in China. His years of experience have also given him new plans. In 2023, he left the tea brand and prepared to enter fields of tea tree planting and tea processing in the future, such as owning his own tea garden.
Guo Yitao, from Hainan, China, completed her undergraduate and master’s studies in international trade management in France. The master’s thesis is to analyze the international brand strategy of Chinese tea brands, and propose some solutions for Chinese tea brands to enter the international market. In 2021, she officially started to make her own tea brand, Jiangnan Art, which is mainly aimed at the international market and adopts online promotion and sales. Her promotional videos are very popular, and the social media platform has more than 140000 fans.
Dylan Rothenberg, a doctoral student at South China Agricultural University in Guangzhou, is from the United States and studies soil health and microorganisms in organic tea plantations. 2023-2024 is already his last academic year as a doctoral student. After graduation, he plans to continue his beloved research work. In his spare time, Dylan is also a social media tea expert, Wu Mountain Tea, teaching Chinese tea and tea culture in English. He obtained the qualification of an intermediate tea evaluator and also translated the terms of sensory evaluation of tea by himself. He hopes that more people in the world will understand the system for evaluating tea and promote its internationalization.
There are three outdoor tea festivals every year in the Czech Republic. In February 2023, a new winter tea festival was added to Prague. Agha Mithra is the curator of this tea festival, Prague Tea Fest. Aga is an Iranian who settled in Prague after graduating from university. She used to be a vegetarian chef and switched to the tea industry she has always loved. She organized the first winter tea festival in Prague and plans to hold tea festivals in other European cities in the future.