On Friday, May 30, T Ching was honored as a finalist for the title of Best Tea Blog at the first annual World Tea Awards. I was thrilled to be a part of the festivities, as countless tea luminaries celebrated the best and the brightest in ten categories, including Best Tea Publication, Best Social Media Reach (won by T Ching’s very own contributor, Elyse Petersen), and, of course – Best Tea Blog – to name a few.
The experience motivated me to learn more about our fellow finalists in the Best Tea Blog category. This is the first of a series of interviews I have planned with the people behind those winning blogs. In this first installment, I spoke (via email) to Lu Ann Pannunzio, the creator and voice of The Cup of Life, who is based in Canada.
- How did you get interested in tea?
When I was younger, I always wanted to have tea time with my mom and sister, but, of course, with the caffeine my mom didn’t let me right away. I remember one day my sister brought home a wooden box that contained strawberry-flavoured tea bags and my mom thought it would be okay if I had one of those. I was hooked since. It wasn’t just because of the tea, but also because I loved the moment of tea time where all my mom and sister did was sit, relax, and sip together.
- Why did you decide to start a tea blog?
I’ve always been a blogger and I’ve gone through many blogs. My problem was that I never had a solid topic that would keep me updating my blog. I ran across a few tea blogs late one evening and I thought to myself “why have I never written about tea before?” Without hesitation, I began The Cup of Life, knowing that it was something I wanted to pursue because I would never get tired of tea. I felt it would be a great way to learn more about the tea industry and connect with other tea lovers.
- What new experiences have you had as a result of starting your tea blog?
The first thing that started when I began my tea blog were the emails requesting tea reviews. I didn’t start my tea blog to write tea reviews. I started it mainly as a creative online platform to host the writings I did while drinking tea. The countless boxes of teas sent to me for review drove my blog to become more than that and so I started to write primarily about tea. I’ve had great experiences meeting tea people and learning more about other tea companies around the world. With my tea blog, I’m always learning and I feel that will continue forever for tea. I’ve also had the great opportunity to be nominated at the first annual World Tea Awards for Best Tea Blog, which might easily be one of the highlights of my blogging career. I have also recently become a contributor to The Daily Tea.
- What sets your tea blog apart from others?
I think we’re all similar in the sense that we all write with passion, which is evident when you read anyone’s blog posts on tea. My blog isn’t strictly tea reviews, nor is it strictly tea recipes. I like to keep my blog a mix of everything from that to interviews with tea industry folks to tea tips to unique ways to use tea other than drinking it or using it in cooking/baking. I think it’s a great place to get most of your tea information.
- Which tea or tisane would I most likely find in your cup?
Such a hard question to answer because I never really stick to just one tea or tisane. However, currently, you’ll find me heavily drinking Puerh, and relaxing with Chamomile or Mint (or a combination of both!) at night for a tisane.
- What is your “elevator speech” as a tea blogger?
I’m a tea and marketing consultant. Join me on my tea adventures through my blog, The Cup of Life, which was nominated for the World Tea Awards’ Best Tea Blog. I’ll drink loose or bagged – it’s better than no tea at all! Give me a cup of tea and a deep conversation about the industry.
- Where would you like your tea blog to be in five years?
I would hope for a higher readership, of course, but also to be able to have more time for it. I would love to devote all my time to my blog and make it the best I possibly can. I would love to use The Cup of Life to speak at tea events or even hold a tea festival in my local area! Another goal is to create a tea book (but I haven’t figured out a unique topic yet).
- How do you grow your readership?
By connecting with other tea lovers around the world. I think it’s important to write in a style that others can relate to. I strongly believe that quality is more important than frequency. It’s important to blog when you have a really great topic to talk about. Blogging every day won’t make a huge difference unless your topic is engaging and unique. I once created a “Confessions of a Tea Blogger” tag and felt that really helped with my readership without even trying. I ended up reading many peoples’ responses to the tag that I never knew of before. It was so neat to engage that way and learn more about others, too!
- Which tea events do you make a point of regularly attending?
Despite all the years I’ve been blogging, sadly, I’ve only just started to be interested in tea festivals and such. In the beginning, I felt a bit too intimidated by those events, where I expected tea experts would be everywhere. I definitely have on my list the next Toronto Tea Festival and any other Canadian ones I can find around me. I hope one day to make it to the World Tea Expo if everything adds up well in my budget!
- Who in the tea world would you love to meet and why?
Alexis Siemons of Teaspoons and Petals. Hers was the first tea blog I ever found and she was my inspiration to create my own. I do still follow her tea journey and am always fascinated by her tea workshops. I hope that one day she’ll do one in Canada or that I’ll be able to attend one down her way!
Image courtesy of the contributor.