I just read a post on Tea For Me Please entitled, “A Tea Bloggers Worth”. In this excellent article Nicole addresses many of the issues pro and con surrounding tea blogging. She was inspired by another post linked in her article. In the comment section on this second post more articles on the subject of tea blogging can be found. Apparently the subject really caught my attention. So, having spent a lot of time today reading on the subject, I decided to add a few thoughts concerning my blog and tea blogs in general.
First off, the title of this post is tongue in cheek. I suppose it is possible a few folks have found a way to turn a profit from their tea blog. Speaking only for myself, fame and fortune are not likely to find my blog and I am OK knowing it. I write because I can’t help myself.
Over the years I have put together websites covering a range of topics. My love of tea and my need to write about it has outlasted my need to write about all of the others. When I become passionate about any subject, I read, study, and talk about it until I start to make those around me crazy. Sadly, in my small town, it is difficult to find others to interact with about tea, even on a surface level. Writing a tea blog, and social sites, like Steepster, are the perfect outlets for forming relationships with others sharing this passion.
I named my blog The Everyday Tea Blog to remind me of what I wanted to accomplish. When I first started I couldn't find any one willing to take grocery store tea bag offerings seriously. While the majority of what I review is (hopefully) affordable loose leaf tea, I also intentionally try to include teas one can find in small town America. The second most viewed post on this site is a review of Lipton Superfruit Green Tea, Acai, Dragonfruit, and Melon. Yep, it’s a bagged tea, and yes I liked it. For the record, my most viewed page is Can You Reuse Tea Leaves And Tea Bags? While I am connecting with others I hope I am also filling a niche in the blog world.
One of the perks of writing a tea blog has been the offer of samples. I am happy for the opportunity to review the teas when they are provided. If you are thinking of starting a blog just to get free tea, let me make this very clear – there is a price. Writing and maintaining a blog is hard work. Tea companies will not beat your door down to give you stuff. It takes effort, dedication, and a sense of reponsibility. Or at least it should.
When writing reviews you have to be fair to your reader and the company you are reviewing. Not every one will like every tea. That's OK, we all have different tastes, but if you are going to offer opinions to others you need to make the effort to educate yourself and learn how to properly prepare different types of tea. Trashing a green tea for being bitter when you boiled the daylights out of it is not cool. If I prepare it wrong and hate it, I do harm by writing a review.
I don't know how others feel on the subject, but when I review a tea I try to set aside my personal tastes and preconcieved notions as much as possible. For example - I personally don't care for Assam tea. I don't hate it, I just don't crave it. When I review an Assam, I try to base my review on how well it represents the tea class. Regardless of whether it is a tea bag or a loose leaf, I try to judge it on its own merits. Does it accomplish what it is trying to acheive?
My final thought on tea blogging is actually what prompted me to write this post. I have made it a policy not to ‘tea beg’ by contacting companies for samples. I do admit to having done this only one time. I make this point because ‘tea begging’ is one area where many tea companies take a negative view of bloggers. I do try to avoid this practice. But let’s be fair. There is another side to the coin. If you own a tea company, don’t expect (or worse - demand) the blogging community promote your products or provide a link to your site without the offer of samples to review. If you are offended by tea begging don’t be a link beggar. Alex Zorach, on his blog, posted an interesting article on the subject of Soliciting Tea Bloggers To Review Your Samples.
Sorry, I didn’t intend to use so many words. I also don't want this to end on a negative sounding note. Writing a tea blog is a work of love for most of us. I hope, even for those of us who are less than eloquent, that the passion always shows through.