Tea Trade has a new look

Since 2010, Tea Trade has undergone 2 major revisions. This is now our third. I wanted to bring Tea Trade up-to-date with a modern design that was more friendly to mobile phones. I also wanted more color, or at least splashes of color.

More importantly, the WordPress theme we’ve been using for the past 2 years was too slow. There was a lot of stuff built into that I didn’t use, but added a lot of overhead and bulk. On the coding side, it was inefficient and the result, despite my efforts to speed it up, was a slow loading website.

Our new look is much faster and well designed. A lot of coding bulk was removed in making this change and the result is wonderful. The look is modern and the typography is easier to read. We are also refocusing our efforts to make the experience at Tea Trade more focused.

The Marketplace is gone

When we launched, Tea Trade was intended to help folks sell tea from their homes. Several people started out with us and some have left. The Devotea still proudly host their tea empire on the Tea Trade network. The World’s Special Tea continues, while other members offer teas from time to time. But by and large, the marketplace did not evolve the way we wanted it to. Much of this was because we stopped pushing for it and stopped seeking out new vendors. The e-commerce software we use is extremely powerful and full-featured. What that means for the average person is that it is too complex to just come along and set up shop. You actually have to built out a website. This is a huge hurdle (even though WordPress is the best website building software out there). Nonetheless, the first step to getting started is a big one, it takes commitment and time.

Running a tea shop is hard.

A community of tea lovers

The heart of Tea Trade has always been the community, the bloggers and forums are the soul of what Tea Trade is, and I do believe we have some of the best tea writers on the internet. By deciding to officially drop the e-commerce areas of Tea Trade, we are able to refocus on the community. This means we not only clean up the navigation, but removing all the areas and links from the site other than those that focus on the community and the great network of websites on that we host here.

We want to focus on the bloggers and the forums. We want to continue to encourage the bloggers to write and the readers to comment. We also want to encourage lively and interesting discussions in the forum. One of the things you will soon see is slight reorganization of the forums themselves to reflect what Tea Trade is about – which, as you will see here, isn’t really about tea.

Its not really about tea anyway

As part of this effort to rebrand and reface Tea Trade, Jackie and I are going back to the conceptual roots that began with Leafbox Tea. When we began our little online tea project, it was not just about tea, but about that point where tea intersects with life. The conversations we have while sharing a cuppa with friends, the books we read, the music we listen to and the shows we watch. For some, its about the tea market and the history of the industry, or the excitement of business and caring for customers. For others, its about tasting and cataloging every tea known, penning entertaining stories about tea and fantasy, or enlightening us with fine reports of tea culture in New York City, and in far off European lands.

At the end of the day, it isn’t always about tea. That is what Jackie and I have always been about when it comes to our online world here and that is what we want to refocus our efforts on–building a great community of tea bloggers, writers and friends.


Peter Davenport is one of the founders of Tea Trade. In addition to building, enhancing and supporting Tea Trade and its members, he studies Business Administration and Management at American Public University with a focus on Entrepreneurial Studies and Enterprises.

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  1. Peter Post author

    Great, Robert! It took a long time to put it together, but I’m pleased with the result. I’m always open to feedback and suggestions though, so feel free to let me know if something feels off.

  2. iheartteas

    Wow, such a huge difference. It is sad to see the Marketplace to go but I can see why it has. Can’t wait to explore some more and see what else is new.

  3. iheartteas

    I am wondering. Is the only marketplace powered by TeaTrade TheDevotea? If so where has everyone else gone? I hadn’t heard anyone announce any changes to their sites that is why I am curious.

    1. Peter Post author

      @iheartteas The only thing the marketplace did was aggregate the products from the sites on the network. Statistically, the marketplace itself wasn’t offering any major benefit to the sellers. There are no changes to the stores themselves. There have been some advances in how the sites are tracked by Tea Trade and I intend to do some things with stores’ products here on the main site, but having the marketplace here was a distraction.

    2. Jackie

      @iheartteas – there are only a few stores, but they are still up and running as before. They are listed under websites.

  4. lazyliteratus

    I…d’yuh…it’s going to take some getting used to. I actually liked the old homepage that listed the blog updates. The new default page is a little cumbersome. Once I got past that, it was indeed more community friendly.

    1. Jackie

      @lazyliteratus Personally I’d love people to use the Stream more. That is where you can see all the updates, conversations, forum and blog posts. It’s the best place to see what other Tea Traders are writing and thinking about, aside from just the activity on our own blog posts.

  5. Peter Post author

    The current homepage is temporary. More of a splash page for now until I figure out the best way to approach it. I want to being back the headlines there but have some work to do on it. Also want to display some of the latest activity too.

    I spent a month working on this and getting the theme together, when I finally finished it I just wanted to get it out there. Redesigning the homepage isn’t going to take much coding work (which is what I spent the last month on), but I just need to figure out the best approach for it.

    There will be tweaks and changes for sure, I want to give it a real community feel.

  6. bram

    First impression: what the! But then I was not really awake, so my expectations were shaken ;). (I entered at the activity page as usual).
    It is something to get used to, but I think it I will find it better in the long run.

    Some first things that I notice (activity page, homepage and this page):
    1) Wouldn’t it be easier on the eye to have the favorite and comment button (activity page) at the right side instead of left? It might balance it a bit more (avatars are left too) If you move them you might want to make the border a bit darker.

    2) The font of the comments on this page is smaller and greyer than that of the article, which is ok, but for my hard to wake up today eyes with a little bit sun in them it is a bit harder to read. Perhaps a few points bigger or a little bit more black would improve readability

    3) I do agree that the main entrance needs more activity and usefullness. But you already noticed that.

    No time to explore more at the moment.

    1. Peter Post author

      @bram – Implemented your suggestions. Let me know what you think. You might need to clear your cache or do a hard refresh to see them.

      1) Shifted the activity stream action buttons to the right. Did not change the border color. Tried it, but they stood out too much.

      2) Comments font is now larger and darker.

    2. bram

      1) I’m not sure. It still does not feel right. Perhaps at the top right, but then you have to be carefull with long titles. Or use icons there? I find this a hard one. What do other people think.

      2) Much more readable thank you

      1. Peter Post author

        @bram Okay, floated the buttons back to the left. Changed the styles on theme to match the reply button here, also changed the action buttons in the forum to match these as well. I think it is a good solution. It also provides uniformity across the three discussion areas, now the reply and action links/buttons in each area look and feel the same.

  7. bram

    Oh, on this page the follow /today’s headlines box is below this reply box. There is room enough above, so I assume that’s a bug.

    1. Peter Post author

      @bram Are you viewing it on a phone? Currently, the headlines are displayed in the sidebar, which on a phone, or small mobile device, gets dropped down below the column of main content. On slightly larger screens (but still mobile) the sidebar is displayed in a collapsible slideout column.

    2. bram

      Slightly bigger: 24” HD screen. Current window width 1669px.

      Oh and I can reply only on my comment and not on your comment on my comment.

      1. Peter Post author

        @bram – Can you PM me a screenshot of the layout issue you are seeing? On a monitor that wide, the sidebar should on the right. I might need to adjust some margins or something, but I need to see it.

        The reply settings have been changed. This theme supports threaded replies, but it was set only to two levels deep. Changed it to 4 to see how it goes. The higher the number, however, the stranger threaded replies start to look.

        1. bram

          Thanks for the reply settings. Gives a more logical flow. And yes deeply threaded discussions are a designers nightmare (these deep discussions are that usually too ;))

          I tried to PM you a screenshot but I got an error. See another PM that seems to have been send.

        2. bram

          I don’t know whether you fixed it, but I don’t have the problem at home. (firefox 26)

          The font however feels much larger.(on activity page 18px bold, here 16px for the inner comment/activity text) (after size reset with ctrl-0) This might be a problem at my side

    1. Peter Post author

      Thanks, let me know if you find any bugs or find something confusing!

  8. Daniel Hong

    @Peter, you made a good decision on the marketplace, I will try to see if it’s blocked still at home.

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