The moderator, Naomi Rosen (Joy’s Teaspoon) asked us questions, guided the discussion, and took comments from the audience. The panel consisted of (left to right):
- Nicole Martin (Tea For Me Please)
- Linda Gaylard (the Tea Stylist)
- Jason Walker (Walker Tea Review)
- Chris Giddings (the Tea-Guy)
- Jen Piccotti (An International Tea Moment)
- Gary Robson (that would be me)
Our friend TeaPigeon from the exhibit floor (pictured below) was unable to attend the roundtable. Something about too much oolong.
We answered questions on a number of topics, and got some great audience participation, too. Among the topics were:
Q: What do you do if someone sends you a sub-par tea to review?
A: Most of us review only what we like, so if we get a bad product we don’t talk about it. If we do, we tend to lay it on the line.
Q: What’s the best time of day to update the blog and social media?
A: For the most part, we don’t post to the blogs on a schedule (except for Nicole, who posts at noon Eastern time), but we try to do the social media links early in the morning, as most folks check their Facebook and Twitter feeds first thing when they get up. Some of us repeat links in the afternoon, typically with different text.
Q: Do you blog about tea and health?
A: That’s a topic that’s in much demand, but there’s so little proper scientific research that we’re all hesitant to do it. Studies tend to be myopic (good word, Chris!), and media coverage of the studies often distorts the results. The dearth of data means everyone’s looking for solid information, but the research is time-consuming and can be expensive; not all of the studies are available for free on the Internet.
Q: How do you deal with word count?
A: Some tea bloggers (Geoffrey, for example) worry about whether their posts are too long and rambling. Others (like me) want to make sure there’s enough content to make them worth reading. The beauty of the Internet, though, as compared to print media, is that we don’t have hard limits. Doug Robson pointed out from the audience that for the first time in history, we have a medium with infinite scrolling. You can fit ten thousand words as easily as you can fit ten words. There’s no reason to trim it back.
Well, I need to get going and hit the last day of Expo, so I’ll cut this post short and talk more about tea blogging later. In case you’re interested, I started my day with a lovely golden tip Yunnan tea from TeaSource. That’s my kind of black tea!
I (well, technically this blog) have been accepted for membership in the Association of Tea Bloggers. If you don’t work in the tea business, this probably doesn’t mean much to you, but I am very excited about it.
The association has been around for four years this month. It is comprised of people who blog primarily about tea, and there is a list of criteria for membership. What I really like about it is the connection with like-minded people. Some blog far more frequently than I do (you must write at least three posts a month to be accepted as a member) and some less. Some do straight text and some mix in video and audio. Some blogs are run by a single individual, and some by a group.
One of the benefits of membership is access to members-only discussion forums. I’ve used such forums in other businesses and found them invaluable when you’re looking for advice.
I’m hoping that some of the other members of the association will be attending World Tea Expo next week in Las Vegas. It would be nice to meet them face to face. If you’re a tea blogger and you’ll be there, let me know. We can get together for a cup and a chat. Or maybe even — dare I say it? — a beer.
Members of the general public who are interested in tea will find a different benefit from the association: the feed aggregator. This aggregator collects all of the posts from all of the member blogs and shows them all in one place. If you want to get a feeling for what’s going on in the world of tea, just browse through this feed and click on any post that looks interesting.
If you are a Facebook user, you can also pick up an aggregated feed of many of the blogs by visiting the Association of Tea Bloggers Facebook page.
As I get more involved with the Association of Tea Bloggers, I’ll make sure to write more about it.