I have wanted to talk with Dan Bolton for some time now. Dan is supportive of all who are tea content producers – people who write, photograph, and otherwise print/publish tea information. He tracks down the people and stories of tea across the world. And when he isn’t digging for stories in the beverage industry, he’s probably in a forest cabin or a wilderness situation that could turn into an adventure.
Now it’s his turn to be on the other side of the interview. This isn’t the first time though.
Dan Bolton has been in the news business since 1974, and has been following tea developments since the early 90’s. In that time, he has shaped the course of STiR, Fresh Cup, World Tea News, and Tea Magazine – to name a few. He also created Tea Biz Blog to further spread tea business insights.
JW: Who are some of the tea trend setters or game-changers you keep an eye on?
DB: There are several leaders I look to:
Seven Cups – Austin Hodge
Adagio – Michael Kramer
Teavana/Tazo – Charlie Cain
TeaSource – Bill Waddington
Rishi Tea – Josh Kaiser
Numi Tea – Reem and Ahmed Rahim
… and the late John Harney
JW: What have been the top 3 most significant developments or changes in tea in the last 5 – 10 years?
DB: I would list those as –
1. The introduction of specialty tea blends by pioneers like Jurgen Link of Special Teas, Anupa Mueller, Manik Jayakumar (QTrade) and Devan Shah (ITI). Their tea blends help bring more people to the discovery and appreciation of tea.
2. The impact of the recession was very significant- boom times ended in specialty retail at a time when investors saw opportunity during a pause in the growth of coffee shops.
3. Teavana acquisition by Starbucks and T2 acquisition by Unilever as parts of a $1 billion investment in specialty tea retail and a $10 billion investment in specialty coffee.
JW: There are an increasing number of online destinations where a person can read about tea. What makes for good writing about tea?
DB: The issue with many online sources involves a great deal of repetition, and a high amount of content addressed to beginners when growing numbers are more advanced. A blog like The Horses Mouth (Puer Tales from the South) is very refreshing. Look to the people who live in the tea lands to educate us.
JW: What has Tea Biz Blog taught you about tea, blogging, and the business of tea?
DB: Learn your geography. Journalism and news is my life work. The medium has changed but the task of obtaining reliable, accurate information remains. Tea grows in some of the most obscure places on earth, each place with its own terrain, culture and language. I’ve been reporting the news since 1974 and closely watching the beverage business since 1995 but never felt this close to distant readers. It is a delight to share something of interest with those who reside in tea producing and tea consuming countries worldwide.
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