Making a bit of a change in my personal approach to writing about tea. Hubby and I are cutting back on doing tea reviews, with the very capable assistance of our buddy Little Yellow Teapot & the Tea Gang (they will be having their own tea adventures on the side). We’ll be finishing off reviewing samples on hand and then be very selective on any further samples we accept. There are just so many tea review sites out there (and a new one just starting) that we feel the need to address a very different side of things: tea knowledge.
|A tea factory from their video.|
One thing that got us rankled and spurred us on to make this change was a video from Bigelow Tea that I saw on LinkedIn by the merest chance. Here the vendor claims their teas are “hand-crafted” in Sri Lanka. “Hand-crafted” is another buzz term to get you, the tea drinker, to think “better,” “worth a higher price,” etc. Again, this is not an ethical approach to marketing (rather odd from a company stressing their “ethical partnerships” and support of “fair trade” with the tea growers/processors). My article about every tea vendor slapping “artisan” on their teas, which is an unethical approach to marketing that takes advantage of a lack of tea knowledge in their target market (basically, you), shows another such deception.
The intro text that Bigelow Tea posted on LinkedIn about the video: “Third generation CEO Cindi Bigelow of Bigelow Tea visits Sri Lanka which produces some of the world's finest teas. Join Cindi as she visits some of the factories that have been producing hand-crafted fine teas for her family business for nearly 70 years.” [Watch the video.]
There is no way that the teas coming out of a tea factory like the ones shown can be classified as “hand-crafted.” Anyone who has visited various tea processing locations in China, Taiwan, Thailand, Japan, and India will certainly know what I mean here. Even I, who have learned of these things from afar, know the difference. The goal for me, therefore, on this blog and on my Little Yellow Teapot & the Tea Gang blog will be transitioning from reviewing teas and writing more light articles about tea enjoyment to some real useful information for you, the tea drinker, to get the really good deal.
As for “hand-crafted,” that will be another article, and I’m not picking on Bigelow Tea or Cindi Bigelow here. I want to be sure to get all the facts straight and consult with some of the more knowledgeable tea processors out there. Meanwhile, beware of any tea vendor who makes such claims, especially when most of their teas are sold as dust in bags.
A note about tea reviewing: hubby and I have discovered that few of the teas we have been sent are truly exceptional (most tend to be versions of the same thing that are a little better or worse than another version); what has been truly educational is seeing the different approaches to selling tea, the various claims being made (a lot of it just hype), the marketing tricks employed, how open they are with their customers about themselves and their products, and how they react when such things are pointed out.
© 2014 A.C. Cargill photos and text