This a comment that I wrote following Heidi Kaiser wrote on the blog T Ching announcing that the World Tea News will have it’s own URL and charge a subscription. The is a photo of the Wall Street Journal on a driveway, as if there is somehow a parallel between the two. The tea industry has very little in the way of good tea publication, though there are some emerging on-line, but I have not been very happy to see the World Tea News becoming the default periodical about tea given their association with the World Tea Expo.
Although Heidi has written some good pieces since she has been in at the “World Tea News”, I don’t feel that the content presented in the “World Tea News” rises to the level of news, almost all of which one can come to by setting a few Google alerts, hardly worth the price of the subscription. Because the “World Tea News” is a marketing arm of the World Tea Expo, formally Take Me To Tea, the only tea trade show in the US, it seems unlikely that there could be in unbiased reporting from the WTN. Even though the World Tea Expo is the only game in town, it doesn’t mean that they speak for the the tea industry. WTN does however provide a good central location for reading the press releases issued by tea companies and is a little less self serving than Adagios Tea Trends, and certainly not “independent news and information from the only source that focuses exclusively on the specialty tea trade”. It is really pretty amazing that they should make that claim.
It is true that the tea industry needs good information, and that there is very little be be found either in online or in print. I hate to hear the line, “we are all in this together” because it means that we are all agreeing to a being satisfied with a shocking level of mediocrity and tolerance for a level of deceptive marketing that we know is not accurate, but we wink at it because we are ‘all in it together’. It is true that being in the specialty tea industry is hard from a business stand point, (I even think that term ‘specialty tea’ is misleading to the point of being meaningless) and that we have to work together to establish a market for better quality teas. There is a growing list of very good content development people and companies that are really making an effort to disseminate better information about tea. The thing that makes good information about the industry so difficult to come by is the amount of deception involved in marketing tea that we all enable as a shared passive conspiracy. The truth is that there is a lot of ugly news out there regarding the tea industry that is not being mentioned and I don’t see the World Tea Expo risking its market by talking about it.
That being said, I think that Heidi has done an excellent job as editor there, and I don’t believe that good journalism should be free. Heidi, start your own publication. I’ll subscribe to that. There is certainly a need in our industry.