New Yorkers have their first taste of Guangdong herbal tea

2018-12-19 15:32:13 GPHL GPHL

Wanglaoji, a 190 year-old Guangdong herbal tea brand, set up its first overseas museum on Grand Street, Manhattan on November 18th.  

Guangdong herbal tea has become part of the daily life of many Chinese people, especially those living in the Lingnan region. But it’s still unfamiliar to most overseas. When producing reports on the overseas market of traditional Chinese medicine(TCM), journalists from Nanfang Daily invited New Yorkers to have their first taste of Guangdong herbal tea.

The first Wanglaoji overseas museum in New York

The Wanglaoji museum displays a series of old photos, equipment and Chinese herbs, aiming promote TCM to an overseas audience.

In 1983, Lin Zexu, Hu-guang Viceroy, headed down south to ban opium. He rushed through the day so much that he got heatstroke. Even though he asked almost all of famous doctors in Canton, they told him his illness was serious and he would have to go back to Beijing.

Fortunately on further enquiry, his entourage found out that Wang Zebang was good at curing heatstroke. After visiting Wang's home, just three cups of herbal tea solved Lin's problem. Lin Zexu felt much refreshed, he came to thank Wang Zebang and said: "You are honest and sell effective drugs at a low price. Since your family name is Wang and nickname is Aji, your herbal tea should be called 'Wanglaoji' from now on."

Later he gifted Wang a big gourd-shaped copper teapot with three gold letters "Wanglaoji" on it. From then on, Wang Zebang made "Wanglaoji" as his shop's formal title.

Visitors to the museum can also taste different types of Chinese herbal tea thanks to a mini Wang Lao Ji herbal tea store set up inside. The brand has injected innovative elements into traditional herbal tea, adding rose and ginger to provide different flavors.

In fact, Wanglaoji’s New York museum is not America’s first encounter with the brand.

In late 19th century, Wanglaoji entered the U.S. Market. Liang Qi Chao, a Chinese revolutionary pioneer, mentioned in his book Travel Notes of the New Continent (the U.S.) 120 years ago, "Since some Westerns prefer Chinese doctors, one can grow wealthy through Traditional Chinese Medicine industry. There is a herbal tea known as Wanglaoji that is sold for two copper coins each dose in Guangdong, but is sold for 5 or 10 dollars to Westerns." In 1925, Wanglaoji was also invited to attend the Chinese product expo in London.

Lian Jiarong, a chief distributor of Wanglaoji in U.S., said the sales volume of Wanglaoji has seen a 30 percent growth every year since it debuted in the U.S.. “The Wanglaoji herbal tea is sold $1.5 a can. It’s popular in the Chinese community and attracts quite a few locals.

Wanglaoji herbal tea has been registered in and is being exported to 60 countries and regions worldwide with an annual sales value of more than 20 billion, raising the profile of TCM around the world.