Intellectual Property and Tea

Intellectual Property and Tea

Lately, I’ve noticed a concerning increase in copy cats in the tea world. Fly by night tea companies are plagiarizing product descriptions from trusted vendors. I frequently discover my Instagram pictures have been reposted without my permission or proper credit given. Entire blog posts are copied and reposted until I discover them and have to waste my time filing takedown notices.

What is intellectual property?

in·tel·lec·tu·al prop·er·ty

a work or invention that is the result of creativity, such as a manuscript or a design, to which one has rights and for which one may apply for a patent, copyright, trademark, etc.

At its most basic level, anything that someone else has created is their intellectual property. This includes written word, images, videos, and other content.

Why it is wrong to use the work of others?

Taking someone else’s work and presenting it as your own is a violation of copyright laws. In addition to leaving yourself open to legal trouble, you are taking away potential income from the person who created that content. Believe it or not, writing a tea blog is not a profitable endeavor. Content producers are rarely compensated for our hard work.

As a blogger, it is particularly frustrating when blog posts are copied. Google sees this as duplicate content and will actually penalize my website in search rankings. It can take years to build SEO “juice” so I can’t help but feel angry when someone jeopardizes that.

Ask Permission and Give Credit

Never, ever use someone else’s work without asking permission. Send an email or Instagram DM and ask if it is OK to share. It’s as easy as that. The person who created the content will appreciate the courtesy and you’ll open the door for potential collaborations down the line.

Similarly, it is crucial that you give credit where credit is due. The cop-out of saying the source was “Pinterest” is just not good enough. Find the person who created the original work and tag them in both the image and your caption.

Offer compensation

If it is in your budget at all, consider compensating the creator for the use of their work. Doing this shows that you value their work and will leave a lasting impression. Money is always nice but I know that is not always doable for a small business. That just means you need to think outside of the box. Many tea enthusiasts would gladly accept free product in lieu of payment.

Where can you find free images?

There are a ton of resources for free images all of the internet. There’s no need to steal when entire libraries of free images are available. These are some that I use frequently.


When it comes to copying content: just don’t do it! The tea world is surprisingly small and tightknit. If you post content that isn’t yours in an inappropriate way, word will spread and your reputation in the community will suffer as a result. Trust is essential for growing your customer base. I would never by tea from a company that behaves in an unethical way and I am sure that I am not the only one who feels that way.

Have you had issues with tea companies stealing your content? Let me know about it in the comments below!

My name is Nicole and I love tea...a lot! I have been writing about my love of the leaf since 2008. My work has been featured on World Tea News, The Daily Tea, Tea Journey, and other publications. I am the winner of the 2018 World Tea Award for Best Tea Blog.