By JoAni Johnson, The TeaBloggers Roundtable
The TeaBloggers Roundtable began more than eight years ago, founded on the enjoyment of drinking and writing about tea. The participants are worldwide, and the group is open to all (with the only requirement that you write about tea or have a tea-inspired focus). Currently, there are 42 members listed on our website and we welcome many more. The core group of the The TeaBloggers Roundtable consists of 13 members, and we also have a presence on social media via Facebook with more than 800 followers.
When we began The TeaBloggers Roundtable, the main focus was to connect tea bloggers. We met to discuss the rewards and challenges experienced in blogging about the leaf and brew. However, by conducting panel presentations at the World Tea Conference + Expo and at regional tea festivals, we began to help others who were new to blogging or interested in the medium and wanted to get started and develop a support base. We also spoke at these events about tea and presented insights to the tea industry on how to work with bloggers, submit teas for review or how to pitch story ideas to bloggers (do’s and don’ts).
Many of our members host podcasts, conduct Instagram Live meetings and have embraced Zoom to reach tea lovers. The virtual connections have expanded during this new normal during the COVID-19 pandemic, as more and more festivals are hosted online. This format allows us to address a larger audience as tea bloggers.
Within the community, each blogger has his or her own voice, style and interests, For some, blogging is a way to add consumer support and interest to their online tea offerings. For others, trying and reviewing tea is their passion, or finding new or unique teas from unusual regions, or just telling stories about tea adventures.
At first, many tea merchants looked at tea writers/bloggers as moochers that just wanted free tea. In fact, the term “influencing or influencer” had not made its way to the tea industry’s bloggers. Thus, it was such a joy to hear Peter Goggi, president of the Tea Association of the USA – in his recent state-of-the-industry presentation at the World Tea Virtual Summit 2020 – reference how the increase in consumer green tea consumption is being encouraged and driven by bloggers and others in the health and wellness arena.
Providing education and information was always a part of the journey for the members and bloggers of the TeaBloggers Roundtable, focusing on historical references, transparent sources, or novelty ideas for including tea in daily life – both for the tea converts or tried and true tea enthusiasts. Even those who are not currently “active” bloggers still have valuable, interesting postings remaining online for reference.
We utilized our platform and social media to inform the public about the essence and value of drinking tea. Our members worldwide worked with a host of community and tea organizations to carry the message. Many of us support and collaborate with tea retailers to provide speaking and brewing services, and we attend and report on cultural and current events, as well as industry conferences. We support industry efforts and interact with industry leaders, gaining knowledge and insight into the world of tea.
Why Is Tea Blogging Important?
Recently, I asked a few of our members two questions about the work they do: Why do you think tea blogging is important to you and your readership? What do you want your readers to gain from your writings? Here are their thoughts:
“Tea blogging is important because we serve as a bridge between tea drinkers and the industry. Specialty tea is still fairly new to American consumers, so there is a wide gap in product knowledge. The Internet is the first place that younger people turn to when they want more information about a particular topic. They turn to blogs for education as well as recommendations for which teas to try. I want my readers to gain a better understanding of tea without feeling intimidated or overwhelmed. Tea is something that I am incredibly passionate about, and I hope that my excitement will make them want to dig deeper.”
“My main drive for blogging is my passion for tea, of course. It started as a way of expressing myself and sharing this passion with other people. By sharing it, I hope to drive more people towards tea and inspire them to explore more, learn about it, and keep passing their passion to others. It started as a creative outlet, but it has been a huge vehicle for networking, getting to know wonderful people and building an online tea community. I believe there is a part of my readers who don’t know anything about tea, so I show them other ways to use tea at their homes, like culinary uses, mixology, etc. My goal is to attract my readers to get into tea by showing them how versatile it is. So many people don’t know that you can use tea to cook, bake, make other drinks and cocktails. By showing them a broader spectrum of what tea is and how it can be consumed, I hope they get into it and enjoy its many ways. I use different platforms for different messages too. On Instagram, I review, share and show people what I’m drinking, while on my blog, I post recipes with tea, give advice on what to buy, etc.”
“I think tea blogging is important to give a voice to the tea industry. Bloggers review teas from small companies that need our help, but we also discuss important issues that may otherwise go unnoticed. Readers look to the bloggers for important tea industry information, as well as advice on brewing tea and buying tea and teaware. We highlight small tea growers and farmers that would not otherwise get noticed. We also provide interesting recipes and history of tea, many things that are not easily found online. I would like my readers to gain tea knowledge but also empowerment from my writings – to help them understand tea, and to have the confidence to explore and think deeper about the tea industry, To go for that tea sample that may seem a bit intimidating, and purchase tea from smaller vendors that deserve the exposure for their beautiful teas.”
“I think tea blogging is prima facie evidence as you sit at your desk in Adelaide Australia or Anchorage Alaska or Gentleman’s Cave, Orkney, that across the world there are other people who share your passion for this glorious beverage. Blogging is all about connecting. The thing I refuse to do is what I think people should think about a particular tea – e.g. ‘this Assam is nice.’ What I try to do is offer perspectives, expanded thinking and ways of looking.”
“Tea blogging is important to me as a way to cultivate tea rituals as spaces where I can seek beauty, mindfulness, slow living and creativity. I hope to inspire my readers to do the same. I’d like to help my readers discover the beauty of tea, a beverage that unlike any other can bring us together and foster human connections and compassion.”
“I think tea blogging allows another outlet for people with different tastes to share their experiences. Not everyone can have the chance to have certain experiences, but tea bloggers allow others to learn through their experiences. I want them to gain knowledge about types of teas and individual tea journeys.”
“I want people to learn more about Japanese tea. If I can turn only a few people into tea lovers, then all the years of writing the blog are worth it.”
To learn more, visit TeaBloggersRoundtable.com.
JoAni Johnson of Scandalous Tea is the chief coordinating organizer of The TeaBloggers Roundtable.