In China's frothy tea drink universe, startups learn to battle

Tea shop startups like Nayuki and Heytea are staying afloat by turning to high-quality organic ingredients and greater brand visibility 

Within a few months of its launch in Zhengzhou in early 2018, Answer Tea rocketed to internet fame as the latest, trendiest go-to bubble tea in China. The startup's short videos using the Douyin app drew almost 1.2m likes from 350,000 fans. The popularity brought quick business expansion. By mid-March, Answer Tea had signed 249 franchisees and, within a year, opened 500 stores in 27 provinces. 

Answer Tea’s main selling point is its "fortune-telling" service. Customers write a random question on a cup sleeve, order their drink, then get the drink back with the answer to their questions floating in edible ink on the foam on top of the drink. The answer comes from Answer Tea's big data system, which extracts key words from the question to find a matching answer for the customer. 

The market for tea shops and brands in China is worth RMB 90bn, and that figure is expected to exceed RMB 100bn

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