Weasel Words in Tea Descriptions and Marketing

Wikipedia: Weasel_word
Last Updated: Jul. 15, 2015
Illustration of a weasel saying: some people say that weasel words are great!Illustration of Weasel Saying Weasel Words, Public domain photo by Tkgd2007 (Wikimedia Commons)
Weasel words are words that give a misleading impression of authority, or a false impression that something has been said, when in reality, no authority has been cited or no information communicated. These words are named as such for the way they "weasel" their way into writing, in ways that people often do not notice them and the subjectivity that they introduce.

Weasel words are sometimes used accidentally, but they can be used deliberately in marketing materials. By familiarizing yourself with weasel words, you can avoid using them in your own writing, and you can also avoid being tricked by them when you encounter them in marketing materials. Unfortunately, some tea companies use weasel words to market their product.

As a shopper, by avoiding weasel words you will protect yourself against the influence of dishonest marketing, and ultimately make better decisions when buying tea. As a tea company, by avoiding weasel words, you will cultivate a reputation for integrity, winning over tea drinkers with discerning tastes, who will be more likely to reward your integrity by writing and speaking favorably about your company.

Common weasel words in tea descriptions and marketing

Here are some of the most common words and phrases used as weasel words in tea marketing:

Writing without weasel words: show, don't tell

A good guideline for how to avoid using weasel words is that if you want to communicate a specific, potentially controversial attribute about a tea, it is better to show, not tell.

Instead of using the word "best", a company could point out that the tea in question won a particular competition, or has been assigned a certain grade by a certain certifying organization. Instead of using the word "Rare", a company could explain that a tea is made only in a particular small region, and that only a particular quantity is produced each year. And rather than saying that "studies show" or "experts agree", a company can actually cite the study or quote specific experts.

Whether you work for a tea company, or are just a tea enthusiast interested in writing about tea, you can make your writing both more persuasive and more honest by refraining from the use of weasel words and instead using more descriptive language. When making claims of scientific evidence, you can cite specific sources and quote experts to back up your claims; this is particularly important when talking about the health benefits of tea. And even if you do not write about tea, you can still benefit from the same ideas of avoiding weasel words when you write on any topic.

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