Another Skewed Tea Vendor?

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Re: Chash Tea, Owner is Dan Rook.

A new tea vendor has popped up online (at least new to me). The name is Chash, a company based in London, UK, and owned by Dan Rook. The company has been around 6 years and has adopted an attitude of infallibility, it seems. Always eager to greet those new to selling tea and help out by sampling their teas, I am equally disappointed when a vendor turns out to be off-base and worse yet when they will not acknowledge this. His reaction to my correction of his misstatement about caffeine (he became very defensive and started attacking me personally) got me wondering, so I thought a bit of investigation was needed.

First, a bit of explaining of the situation: Being the helpful sort, I speak up when asked for input or when I see a need. I helped a new tea vendor with information for her web site and was pleased that she was open to some very well-intentioned suggestions. The same has been true of others along the way, too, including a vendor I have come to regard as the source in the U.S. for fine Chinese teas. But Dan has turned out to be some guy who doesn’t like anyone issuing him a correction. He calls it “not playing nice,” as if he were still in elementary school. A recent tweet series I had with him showed this mindset. I had noticed an exchange on Twitter where he told someone that white tea has the most caffeine. I had pointed him to a report from a tea chemist which clearly states that caffeine levels vary according to several factors. This chemist shows that while white teas that are composed mainly of tips are generally among the highest, others are high, too, and no one type is necessarily stated as being highest. The issue of caffeine (more correctly, theanine) is an important one. Such misinformation does a disservice. I pointed out the error and was promptly pounced on as a big meanie. Yeah, that’s me, a big meanie, someone who isn’t “playing nice” in the Twitter sandbox. Bwahahahahahahaha!

This reaction got me curious about who this person was. What was more worrying is the journey it took me to find out. Something to hide here? Anyway, obviously I did find out after a bit of searching as follows:

  • The “About Us” page on the store site doesn’t have a name on it (always a warning sign). (What is stated on the “About Us” page is a claim that they have been in business for 6 years. It makes their misstatement about caffeine (that white tea is highest) all the more puzzling.)
  • One of his Twitter pals called him “Dan”.
  • The company Facebook page shows an email address for “Dan”.
  • On Google+, the owner is listed as “Dan, Leaf Executive.”
  • Another site that tracks their business traffic shows virtually none outside the UK.
  • A business info site has a “planted” review about the company (that’s when someone gets a buddy to post a good review about them to counter the bad stuff being posted). I know because once again “Dan’s” last name is left off.
  • A couple of sites posting reviews of their teas also lists the owner simply as “Dan.” Why he doesn’t use his last name is another puzzle. (Previously, I had heard that another vendor who did not put his name on the company site or elsewhere was dodging the tax collector. Not saying that’s the case here, though. Maybe he’s like Cher or Madonna. Just uses one name.)
  • There is even an article about the company that was obviously written by some PR person (possibly one they hired), has no author name, and again does not say who owns Chash. The article states: “Chash work on the principle that like a good wine, the taste of tea can be influenced by the plant, the farming, the climate and the production.” (Gee, I think they got that statement off of some other tea vendors’ sites. And if they are sourcing such high-quality tea, why smother that wonderful flavor? They might as well buy the leftovers from the tea auctions and be done with it.)
  • Finally found an article that gave the owner’s full name but read again like a PR announcement.

For a company that’s supposed to have been around for 6 years and have such a glowing reputation, they are fairly closed about who they are, unlike a host of tea vendors I could name who carry truly great teas.

Despite their company motto (“If ‘Tea Makes Everything Better’ shouldn’t we be drinking better tea?”), they don’t necessarily offer better tea. They do offer 26 herbals (the majority of their product line it seems), 19 teas that they claim are “rare & prized”, 3 pu-erhs where they don’t specify raw or ripe nor the factory, and a miscellany of other teas presented in a fancy manner. Their store site seems more surface than substance (focus on visual impact versus real info for you).

On a final note, I got a big laugh out of them listing a tea as a “white oolong”!! Their listings of an Aged Assam and a Darjeeling Oolong were also amusing. Small wonder that tea experts are flustered at tea vendors out there, and I have to agree with him.

© 2014 A.C. Cargill photos and text

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