Something weird has happened to me. Along the lines of never say never I am slowly but surely turning from a hard core coffee drinker into a tea aficionado. In fact, tea already cut down my coffee consumption per day by at least 50%. And that in less than a month!
How could this possibly happen? It is all about quality, like many (most) things in life and I think we can learn some lessons for content creation here.
First of all, you need to know that I did not exactly hate tea before but it was nothing I would order in a café or buy on a regular basis. There were phases earlier in which I tried to convince myself to give it another try but it all ended after one or two cups and then the tea aged on the shelf.
So what has changed? I noticed that I have developed appreciation for things I did not like as a child or young adult over the years like a taste for bitterness in food and drinks. Bitter taste was something I really hated, nowadays I enjoy fennel and radicchio.
However, I don’t think that it is quite the same for tea.
Like content on the web, tea is much about context. The context I had been trained to see tea in was being sick. When you were sick as a child or later on you drank “tea”, meaning chamomile or peppermint. So the drinking of tea was tied to a not very pleasant context.
That context changed for me with reading Tim Ferriss’ latest book the 4 Hour Chef in which he wrote about the health benefits of a variety of teas, especially Sencha, White Tea and Pu Erh. As I already loved his previous book the 4 Hour Body and got out some great health benefits and advice out of it, I was open to give those teas a try in the context of doing something important for my health.
By the way, the Asian concept of preventing illness instead of curing it is something we all should get more into.
Quality and hence price is a huge factor in the experience. The same happened to me earlier with wine. I had developed a very heavy tendency to get a major hangover even after drinking just one glass of wine a couple of years ago.
Luckily I found Arnold Waldstein, an amazing wine and marketing expert, on Twitter and he explained to me that it was possibly tied to the quality of wine. He advised to switch to ecological or organic wines and simply spend more per bottle – and he was right.
The same is true for my tea revelation. The moment I did not look at the price anymore but picked a tea based on Tim’s list and according to my taste everything changed. It is probably one of the most expensive condiments I bought to this point (based on the price per kilo) but it made all the difference.
The other thing about quality is that even small quantities give you amazing results. Sure, high class tea is expensive if you look at the price tag but you will also need far less to get a tasty cup of tea. I learned the same earlier about meat, cheese, bread, veggies – you name it.
A great example are the Dragon Phoenix Pearls I recently bought. With nearly $350 per kilo they are among the top teas I can get in my region but you will only need less than 0.5g or five pearls to get the most delicious glass of tea!
Of course, now that I am into drinking tea I want to learn more about it and have the right tools of the trade. I have a watch list on eBay filled with antique tea storage pots, I know that I need a Wedgwood china teapot, better mugs etc.
This again adds to my point about context. Having a great tea already gets you a long way but I like to geek out and dig deeper into the surrounding matter.
Tea = Content
And I also believe that the three points above are true for creating content on the Internet. You can either shred tea and put it into tea bags for the mass audience or offer hand picked, hand rolled, sun dried tea leaves.
My newly found love for tea comes at a point in which I decided to only produce high quality, long form content in text and video. I am off the hamster wheel of breaking news in edtech, event coverage and all that.
There are enough content aggregators or blogs out there with top ten lists in education which are serving their audiences well. The thing is that I am not made to write content like this, I tried and felt awful, and I am also not interested in an audience that just hits the like or retweet button for my next “20 Best Apps for Creating Awesome Infographics for the Science Classroom” post without presumably even reading the entire post.
And as I am not consuming that kind of content, why should I try to adapt to its audience? It makes more sense for me to create content I like and therefore attract like minded readers. Sure, this group is far smaller compared with other blogs in tea, sorry, education but who cares? I know that my audience appreciates long form content, deep dives into topics and thoughtful, sometimes even passionate discussions.
To be clear: this is not a judgement on which approach is better! People buy tea bags and like it. Who am I to tell them to switch to Sencha? Although I think the moment you tasted high quality it is hard to get back to mass content. At least you will know that there is a distinct difference.