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.