29 April 2009

THE WRITTEN WORD: What a Difference a Letter Makes for SPORTea

I’m a big tea drinker. Have been my entire life, starting as a kid with a cup of orange pekoe softened with milk and sugar. In my kitchen, I have a whole drawer full of teas, and I know how to use them.
Yesterday—feeling a bit under the weather on a sleepy, overcast day—I found myself in the plentiful tea aisle at Vitamin Cottage. I picked up tins of the usual suspect, Earl Grey, and also some green tea. Nosing around the rows and rows of boxes and tins, I noticed SPORTea.
The box in primary colors depicts mountains. I recalled an interview I’d conducted years ago for a feature in The Denver Post. I had been contributing a standing feature that ran every other week under the title "The Nature of…" and was researching "The Nature of Medicinal Herbs." Along my path, I’d found a bright, young, clinical herbalist. When I made the initial contact via telephone to set up an in-person interview, she suggested we meet for tea. I was in. I picked her up at her shop. We drove downtown to a tea house. I don’t remember where, but I do remember that this impressive herbalist ordered SPORTea.

The tea that fortified an Everest ascent

I’d never tasted SPORTea, but after a quick look at the label, I dropped the bright box in my shopping basket. This morning, while the water heated in the kettle, I read the box more closely. Turns out SPORTea hails from metro Denver, packaged by Ultimate Performance Products, Inc., in Englewood. The tea blends black and green teas, Siberian eleutheroroot, ginger, mate’, electrolytes, and vitamin C. The box carries an endorsement from a man who, fortified by SPORTea, led a Mt. Everest expedition.

The tea that makes you feel god?

But, oh, in the fine print, another declaration. It’s a risky, risky business working in the print media. What a difference a letter makes.
Here is the copy from the box:

“SPORTea’s energy is ‘ENHANCED PERFORMANCE’ energy. SPORTea makes you feel god because it helps your body operate more efficiently.”

I believe they meant, “It makes you feel good”—not “It makes you feel god.”
It’s tasty tea, but so far, at least for this customer, no theophany.

Wonder how long that typographical error has been on their packaging. Or maybe it's intentional?

I have a lot of respect for copy editors. Blogging is working without a net. I'm sure I've got my share of typos, but somebody ought to bring this tea package to the attention of Jay Leno.


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