I have spent the last few days meandering through the ‘tea’ archives to revisit the work I have been lucky enough to be part of, along with Whitehill Publishing, over the past years (quite a lot of years). The ‘tea’ magazine (Margaret Thornby’s Tea and Tea Room Talk) was the most recent publication but we produced a newsletter as far back as 2001. Why am I telling you all this, you may be wondering? The clue is in the title of the blog, ‘Back to my roots’, in that my plan, over the coming months, is to produce an e-newsletter on a regular basis, bringing news and views on all things tea. From tea rooms to teas, tea paraphernalia to cake, and much more, I want to generate interest, talk, tweets, blogs about my favourite subject and one close to the hearts of many across the world too. I plan to make this available widely, to all those with an interest in the subject and to gain your views as well as share my own.
As I read through those past magazines and newsletters, I realised it was a precious record of how I developed on what began as an interest in visiting tea rooms with friends, at a time when e-books and magazines hadn’t even been thought of, to a long time passion and interest that I share with others on Twitter, through blogs, email … Times may have changed, technology has certainly come on apace, yet tea is a constant; there doesn’t need to be a new way to make or enjoy tea. It is what it is, as the saying goes and amen to that.
I have to say, though I say it myself, the preview issue and the subsequent issues of “Margaret Thornby’s Tea Room Society News” were cute. Low key, fairly basic in IT and printing terms, yet with a certain allure and charm evocative of a tea room itself. The Preview Issue February 2001, explained what the newsletter was all about and who we were targeting, how people could ‘join’ and what that membership would offer. The cost for quarterly newsletters and other member privileges was a mere £10 a year; £8.50 for early birds who signed up before April 27 2001. Everything was posted through a postbox with stamps affixed back then; no winging it off as an attachment to an email. We printed 650 copies and distributed them far and wide, to tea rooms in the latest of the Margaret Thornby’s Guide to Tea Rooms of Britain, to people who had bought this guide and to others with an interest in tea and tea rooms. And so an idea was born, a newsletter evolved and developed into a magazine with a wide circulation in the UK and beyond.
Looking back has given me ideas in terms of moving forward, it has energised me and it has also given me an excuse (like I need one) for many cups of lovely, lovely tea – and, sometimes, even a cake. I much enjoyed the letters pages in the newsletter – “Letters to Margaret” – and was always surprised when people actually took the time to write to me with their news and views on tea and tea rooms. Today, I might expect to receive emails or tweets but, I admit, there was something very special about those little missives popping through the door and the thrill of opening and reading them. I hope that people will still be inspired to write whether that be by email, tweet … I do enjoy hearing from others who share my passion for a good pot of tea and a stand out tea room. Let’s join forces and start a tea revolution.