Best Tea of the Year: Hype

So many times i see awards being given out for “best ceylon tea of 2010” etc.  [like here] And this practice is hard for me to swallow. The following thoughts instantly come to mind when I see an American company accept an award for a tea they “procured”:

1. Is it possible that more than one company imports the same tea? Must they have exclusivity to enter such contests?
2. Do they mention the farmer at all? After all, the farmer is the one responsible for the tea.

I ask myself, what is the point here? Isn’t the farmer the one responsible for the tea? Are we profiting from someone else’s hard work and labor? Or are we being awarded on our ability to source a tea only?

The answer I tell myself is that it is all marketing… to say you’ve one this award… to put it on your label, your website, this creates buzz, and news and is at the core of marketing. This still doesn’t help me digest the whole idea. It is not only awards that serve this same purpose: to say you are fair trade or organic even though most teas that are — are grown by farmers that cannot afford to become certified.

I have a really hard time subscribing to this. Call me old-fashioned, but I could never accept an award for a tea I did not grow and process with my own bare hands (none). What do you think?