November 2013 was the tenth anniversary of my tea blog. When I first started, the idea of blogging was relatively new. There were just a few political blogs, and many of them were focused on reporting. My tea blog was an replacement for a monthly newsletter that I did at the time, which looked primarily at what research involving tea and health had been released during the preceding month. I also included other tidbits I came across during the month. I continued with this format until 2005 when I stared to get bored with that structure, though we still publish a newsletter every month. I thought if people were interested in tea research they could just use Google. I wanted to do more blogging, write about what interested me at the time, and have a tea blog that did more to educate people about tea and the tea industry.
In the world of modern marketing, blogging had become a must in promoting you products, but I just couldn’t write my tea blog in that marketing-heavy sort of way. I wanted to write about how I thought the tea industry could improve, and how consumers could avoid the marketing spins that the tea industry was so good at. I have always trusted our teas to speak for themselves — speaking much better than I could. I thought that I would be writing this tea blog mostly for myself, and still today there is that nagging thought at the back of my mind. If people commenting is proof of readership, then it pretty much confirms this blog as a personal project, because I just get few comments.
There are a lot of tea bloggers now that come and go. I used to try and keep up. A tea blog that is written by a tea merchant is dismissed almost immediately by a lot of folks, because we have a dog in the race, and I am certainly sympathetic. Hopefully I have been able to add something to the conversation about tea that goes beyond buy our tea, though we are happy when you do. It is really questionable whether or not my blog has had any impact at all on our sales. In fact one of the criticisms of our site in general is that it not evident that we even sell tea.
So why write a tea blog? I have asked this question before and I’m sure it is going to be a question for me that won’t go away, especially when I can’t think of anything to write about and I haven’t written anything for months. Actually, I’m just as excited about writing it as I have ever been,which of course comes and goes. I so respect Seth Godin who has written a blog everyday for as long as I have been working on this one. (Is he human? He even answers all of his email.) One of the interesting things that happens when I go through the process is that I learn more about tea. There just seems to be so much, and there are many mysteries that are yet to be solved. The tea industry is changing everyday, and it is really a gas to be around and commenting on it as it happens. There are now so many things happening that have never happened before in a history that reaches back 5000 years and for me to be here watching it, just how much fun is that?
By Austin Hodge