Problems with Online Tea Reviews

There are many problems with reviews online. Many people use reviews as a way to filter out the fodder and find good products. Talking about and discussing tea is also an important and necessary part of the learning process and a part that reviews can help to facilitate. Learning in a vacuum is usually a terrible idea and reviews can be a formative part of learning. People who sell products and vendors have realized that online reviews and opinions affect sales and have reacted in a number of ways. On the most basic level, yelp, ebay, and amazon vendors openly ask for and encourage reviews of their product. Fair enough. On a slightly more sinister level, there are paid reviewers of Amazon products that are on the payroll of the producer and are required to give 5 star reviews. This becomes a huge problem when there are only a few reviews of similar products online, meaning one or two five star reviews can propel a significant amount of sales! Many of these problems persist into tea, to varying degrees. While there isn’t necessarily malintent on the reviewer or the vendor’s part, bias and aspects beyond the quality of tea play frequently heavily into the actual review and people’s perception. This article will specifically examine points of bias in the online tea world.

Steepster

Steepster, a popular source of tea reviews. Source: Steepster.

Reviews are a Filtered Selection

What teas are reviewed? Reviews are a highly filtered and biased selection of teas. TeaDB videos fall into this category. The teas brought on for review aren’t a random selection. They’re usually picked out for one reason or another. Occasionally we’ll do blind tastings, but usually the teas brought onto the show are teas that we feel confident in recommending. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but the motivation for reviewing a tea should be taken into account by any potential consumer. Is it a random review of a random tea or is it an actual recommendation? What happens to the other teas? Well, they simply won’t be talked about by the reviewer.

Filtered reviews often lack vision of the whole picture. This problem is a major purpose of the Tea of the Month Series, which focuses more on the larger picture of certain tea genres.

Note #1: Ever notice how yelp/amazon reviews tend to veer towards the extremes? Restaurants aren’t necessarily love/hate, but the reviews tend to be. Perhaps, people are more likely to talk about these things if they have a strong opinion on it. The people talking about the restaurant haven’t necessarily picked it at random, they’re reviewing for a reason!

TeaDB Video Review

A TeaDB Video Review.

Free Tea, Sugar Coated Reviews & Reciprocation

This is a primary complaint about steepster and to a lesser extent reddit. Free tea is given out and reviews are solicited. While, there’s seemingly nothing wrong with this, it hits one of our basic human characteristics of reciprocation and despite often good intentions will ultimately end up biasing the review. There is a mindset difference between reviewing a free tea vs. a tea that has been purchased. It is difficult to talk poorly about something you’ve been given. If a tea is bad and you’ve been given it for free, you’re less likely to talk about it than if you actually spent money. Similarly if a tea is good and you’ve been given it for free, you’re more likely to write/talk about it than if you actually purchased it.

Another aspect of this is when the reviewer develops some sort of relationship/connection to the person selling the tea. Many people that talk about/review tea inevitably get introduced to vendors. This is good and bad. For the purpose of reviews, it adds another element of bias. It’s hard to talk publicly poorly about teas from someone you know!

Note #1: TeaDB definitely is not immune to any of the above. Much of the tea we and consciously or unconsciously we are affected by how we have received it.
Note #2: Finding bloggers like Marshaln or Hster that are willing to openly call out vendors has become increasingly rare.
Note #3: If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all! Many opinions, especially negative/more controversial ones are never published. If you want to hear crap tossed around behind the scenes, start a blog!
Note #4: Social Proof and group think also play heavily into teas that people choose to review. How many White Whale reviews came out after Hobbes gave his famous review on it!?


Three Tea Comparison.

Ratings & Flavors/Tea Quality

If you read or listen to 90% of English tea reviews, the impact of wine culture on western tea culture is pretty obvious. Reviews often grasp pretty far for weird and odd flavors. However, good tea isn’t necessarily about the initial, up-front flavors (important Marshaln posts: It’s Not About the Flavours and Drinking With Your Body). It is often more about the nuances of the tea. The lingering flavor, texture, qi, the body effect.

Brewing method, water, water temperature, storage, and social situations can also all cause major differences in the end product! This can be mitigated with controlled conditions, such as competition style brewing and distilled water. However, a rigorous setup can also eliminate much of the personal enjoyment of tea itself. Distilled water also significantly reduces the mineral content of the water, making an overall worst cup of tea.

Ratings are another very flawed metric. Overall, everyone rates stuff differently. Some people define 50 as the average/median, for others 50 could be a pretty bad cup of tea. This is most apparent in the rating system of steepster or in the standard ratings systems of other beverages.

Note #1: Certain flavors may also not be the same person to person. Apricots can mean one thing to Steve, the tea reviewer, and another to Bob, another tea reviewer.

Takeaways

This article isn’t intended to dismiss tea reviews as useless, but to simply put them in the proper context. Shopping online is tricky and tea reviews can play an important part in the simplifying the purchasing equation to sort through much of the fodder. That being said, there are many flaws and biases inherent within the online review system. Tea reviews should be taken within the proper context with all the necessary grains of salt.

This entry was posted in Article, Tea Learning, Tea Musings and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

25 Responses to Problems with Online Tea Reviews

  1. Connor says:

    When I first discovered Steepster reviews, I was extremely confused. Just ask yourself: are Steepsters top 8 teas above the best teas money can buy in the west? Hardly.

    The problem stems from a rampant lack of experience with tea. Most reviews start with, “this is my first time drinking sheng pu’er, but oh man the camphor notes!” Then these teas get high marks, and more noobs come in with high expectations.

    It’s going to be a while until we can have a viable online community to discuss and review tea here in the west. Those of us who are actually taking the time to dig in are few and far between. That being said, I’ve always been impressed by the generally high quality input posted to teachat forums. Only thing is there just aren’t enough active users.

    • James says:

      Hi Connor,

      Thanks for the comment. Some good observations. Steepster ratings and reviews seem to be the first thing anyone runs into online. I’ve had similar experiences to your own a few years back.

      Cheers!
      -James

    • Kate says:

      I completely fail to see the problem with “noobs” reviewing teas. We were all new once You mention people need to take the time to “dig in”, but how exactly are people supposed to do that if they aren’t trying new things?

      The reason Teachat doesn’t have many active users, is because so many of the existing users have attitudes like this. It’s unpleasant and unwelcoming. I’d rather hang out on Steepster and scroll through half a dozen reviews of fruity tisanes and flavored oolongs, than deal with people who think they’re too good for that.

      • James says:

        Hi Kate,

        I agree with you. There’s nothing wrong with beginners or intermediates (or anyone really) talking about tea.

        Having an attitude of putting down or shaming those into not talking about tea I think is a poor one.

        I think Connor’s qualm has more to do with the algorithm and the rankings & ratings that are well-integrated into steepster’s system.

        Cheers!
        -James

  2. Cwyn says:

    I got your email and I actually hadn’t read this article yet. Seems here to be yet another call for some notion of an Objective universe of tea.

    1) Any Objective rating or review MUST be about discrete, non-random variables which can be measured over a large population sampling, validly and reliably.

    2) If the above is not possible, then we are talking about a Qualitative experience. This is then Relative to the individual, or small numbers of individuals. Qualitative experiences are not objective, they are colored by individual, socio-cultural experiences.

    3) No one drinking tea is free of socio-cultural experiences.

    4) Thus, I think tea drinking is a Narrative, not a set of discrete, objective variables or aesthetics. You hit upon this when saying apricots to one person are not the same to someone else. The other poster here used camphor the same way.

    5) Steepster has an algorithm behind the numbers. But the TRUTH behind Steepster and our reviews is the Narrative, the Journey, and all we can do is own our Narrative and journey and point out anything that influences the Narrative, be it cultural (“I’ve drunk tea at home since I was a kid”), or Influence (“I got free tea so I am talking about it”) etc. I hope this doesn’t start yet another campaign about Steepster or Reddit because these are places people are sharing Narratives, that is the real value of those sites.

    6) Many tea blogs seem to promote some notion of Objectivity but fail to define variables tha qualify. They get stuck trying because they are dealing with what is really a qualitative experience,

    If My post here is too spammy, feel free to delete and I won’t be offended.

    C.

    • James says:

      Hi cwyn,

      Thanks for the comment.

      Actually my primary goal of this post wasn’t to enter the objective vs. relative debate nor was it really to be critical of reviewers. I admire anyone and everyone that is willing to write about teas, regardless of experience. It’s a place where we could certainly use more well-thought out descriptions that can be shared with others.

      The goal was more to properly contextualize how teas get reviewed and to understand what goes on behind the scenes. There’s alot that happens before a tea even gets consumed that contributes to the drinker’s opinion of the tea and ultimately their rating or review. This is kind of how it is very easy to predict Pitchfork’s top 50 albums halfway through the year or predicting Oscar Nominees before the films are even out..

      How much does the tea cost? What did others think? Did I get this tea for free? Am I drinking with other people? What were their opinions? All these things affect me as someone who drinks and writes about teas.

      My objective isn’t really to change or modify the system, but for people to understand how the above affects what comes out in writing or video.

      I also don’t really think that all people writing about tea should all be drinking using the same brewing parameters and same water. I think that takes much of the appeal away.

      Hopefully this helps to clarify!
      -James

      ps. Alot of good opinions are shared with reddit and steepster, so I hope this doesn’t become that debate either.

      • Cwyn says:

        If the intention is to clarify behind the scenes at Teadb, I applaud the transparency. Teadb continues to earn a reputation for careful and honest approaches to the experience of choosing, purchasing and selecting teas.

        However, the article does comment on Steepster and objectivity in general. I have written about these in more than one venue. I tend to be strict about definitions of objectivity defined as discrete variables and the experience of tea drinking as largely qualitative narrative. Steepster tends to be marked for their rating system without an analysis of HOW the site is actually used by people. Many deliberately avoid using the ratings, or they provide their own definition of the ratings because the scale is too large.

        Also, most user discussion of tea happens off the discussion board and instead on chat or as comments on people’s narrative qualitative reviews. These can only be accessed by looking the entire narrative review or by private friend lists. Many people spin off their review to Instagram, Tumblr, Facebook or blogs for more interactivity that merely started with the Steepster format and then spins off to somewhere else. The same can be said of Teadb, using multiple websites to post videos and comments.

        This is the actual use of the site. I hope that people become aware of real user experience of tea sites, the format design does not equal usage.

        • James says:

          Hi cwyn and Tealizzy,

          I’d like to avoid the objective vs. relative debate. I’m not at all trying to convert people to a more objective approach and more just trying to point out a few biases that might be second thoughts to many of us. I’m not sure which parts of my post crossed as trying to push the objective vs. relative debate, but that really wasn’t my intent.

          In the article I refer to steepster very generally. This is intentional and I’m referring to the entire discussion platform, whether it be the reviews, the discussion board, or w/e. My main bone to pick with the steepster community (and anyone who reviews teas) is the examination of free reviews and how it affects the way we discuss and communicate our opinions about teas. I’m not telling people that they should review less, not give ratings or to be more objective. Simply for those that both read and write reviews to be aware of these things and also to be cognizant that tea companies have an incentive in the reviews.

          This wasn’t really a big topic of the article, but the steepster rating system itself been well-covered by others but it’s a system that’s easily gameable if you know what you’re doing.

          The parts about flavors touches a bit on subjectivity. But even then, my point is that many of the qualities in tea that we seek can’t really be described with wine adjectives. MarshalN nails down on this topic in far more detail on a few of the posts linked in the article.

          Cheers!
          -James

  3. Tealizzy says:

    I agree with Cwyn above. I feel like there are two pools of people in the tea universe, those who want more professional opinions on teas to find the best of the best and those, including myself, who just want to be part of a community that enjoys a variety of teas. That’s why I like steepster, but I agree that the number rating system isn’t perfect and that’s why I read the narrative of a variety of people on each tea I’m interested in, get small samples of the teas myself to try before committing to anything large, and avoid the numerical rating system in my reviews. You always have to take reviews with a grain of salt because people have different tastes.

  4. John says:

    Hi James
    I find it interesting how much passion this topic stirs up.
    I understand you intended to provoke thought about the ‘context’ of tea reviews more so than tackle the ‘relative vs objective’ issue. I think the topics are closely related however. The ‘relative vs objective’, and ‘expert vs beginner’ issues have been addressed by Cwyn, Marshaln and TwoDog in the recent past. There are a lot of subtle and important ideas to consider on these themes and the ideas you have introduced around the ‘context’ of reviewing.
    I think there maybe something like a middle ground on the relative vs objective issue that is often overlooked. In many ‘artistic’ (I use that word loosely for lack of a better one) fields there can be said to be ‘ideals’, ‘standards’, or ‘conventions’. These ideals are not objectively good or bad in and of themselves but socially constructed. Ideals are also subject to change and fashion over time. An individual’s ‘preference’ or experience with a tea – whether they be a so called expert or beginner – is a very different thing from determining if an ideal, standard or convention has been met (or deviated from in interesting, deliberate ways). In my view, expertise is need to judge if something is a good exemplar of an ideal, standard or convention and this is not a wholly subjective judgement. I assume that in so far as the standard is clear there should be some reliability among expert opinion about whether or not the particular tea conforms to the standard. In my view, judging if a tea conforms to a standard or not is not the same as reviewing a tea. A review, like Cwyn noted above, is a non-objective, personal narrative. (However, a review could include an expert judgment about whether or not the tea conforms to a standard.) Expertise and some form of objective knowing is needed to understand standards, describe how standards have shifted over time and judge if an exemplar fits into a particular standard or not.
    I am open to being challenged on the idea that there are clear enough standards in the world of tea upon which expertise and objectivity can be based…but currently I believe such standards do exist.
    On a related note I find it helpful when you and Denny say things like “this tea is in the middle of the ripe pu erh category” …and I think such statements achieve something more like objectivity. Finally, I want to be clear that I see the value in both the subjective and objective engagement with tea.
    All the best
    John

    • James says:

      Hi John,

      Thanks for the very thoughtful comment! It’s interesting the way that this topic has turned. I expected it might stir up some tea-reviewing folks, but I didn’t really anticipate the objective vs. relative debate. When I wrote this article the model of “problems” in my head had more to do with review/journalism-ethics dealing with handouts, i.e. the model of fake Amazon reviews, journalism, big pharma, etc. and how some of these basic psychological principles could unintentionally become more insidious.

      Not necessarily a call to arms, but a call for greater understanding of the system.

      Cheers!
      -James

  5. shah8 says:

    I’ve never actually taken Steepster seriously, for different reasons than MarshalN. My essential problem with Steepster is that it promotes a sort of commodified anonymity. The incentives lie towards getting quick shots from as many people as possible, and only self selected people develop any sort of consistent language of their preferences. And of those that do, there is usually an alternative format, where the emphasis is on developing a unique voice, such as a blog or a long-term forum. I prefer to read the blogs, because everything about that person is there, and there is a stronger emphasis on developing a perspective, rather than “I liked this!” This is important, if I was someone who wanted to know more about tea I might like, because a rich personal perspective makes it easy to interpolate your preferences (likes/dislikes) within the work of the person you’re reading and have a strong idea of whether it’s worth trying a tea for yourself (because it still makes sense).

    And historically, there have been a number of Steepster-like interfaces before Steepster. They haven’t lasted long for largely the same reasons that there are complaints with Steepster. It just can be too click-baity, with limited ability to engage in the peripheral topics that allow a group of strangers to trust one another’s opinions. I don’t trust most opinions on Steepster, not least because most of them are too shallow to engage with, never mind questions about objectivity!

    • James says:

      Hi shah8,

      Thanks for the comment. I agree! Developing a narrative builds a much stronger context which makes it far easier to place in the scheme of things (even if the reviews were 100% identical). Kind of the difference between reading a random IMDB movie review vs. Roger Ebert.

      Cheers!
      -James

  6. bellmont says:

    I think it is important to understand the reviewer’s personal narrative when it comes to sifting through online tea reviews. That is the reviewer’s motivations as well as their use of language, personal tastes in food, social and cultural background play a large part into why I choose to follow certain tea blogs vs. others*. It’s not that I am looking for someone with the exact same tastes as I myself, it’s that I am looking for someone who is able to clearly and consistently articulate their own values and tastes. In this post by James, I feel like there could have been more said on how to apply an understanding of these problems when looking for legitimate online reviews.

    *As a reader, figuring out all of this information requires a reviewer to be consistent in their voice, and frequent in their postings. (Props to TeaDB for doing this)! I agree with what James, John and shah8 have said about Steepster. A site like that makes it hard to really gauge if the tea being reviewed is actually good because of its striped-away format.

    Another problem that I have run into doing research about tea, specifically Pu’erh tea, is the temporal and dynamic nature of its taste. When I find a review that was done 5 years ago on a raw Pu’Erh that is still for sale, can I still trust that the taste of today’s Pu-Erh has remained the same as how the reviewer commented on it all those years back? Probably not. In addition, as the years pass new seasons and cakes of Pu’erh become available: how do reviewers stay current? Do reviewers choose to always expand their sites with newer tea and rarer finds? –An expensive endeavor (that may require help from distributors?) Or, will they return to past reviews to comment on how things have aged? It will be interesting to see how TeaDB handles this volatile and dynamic Pu’erh environment.

    Lastly, drinking and experiencing tea is different than consuming other beverages or cuisine because of tea’s lingering “body effect”. Reviewers that comment on the somatic nature of the tea they taste get my props because I believe that is where so much of the value and richness in tea drinking lies.

    Peace,

    bellmont

    • James says:

      Hi bellmont,

      Thanks for the comment. You bring up some good points.

      I agree. Pu’erh adds that extra dimensionality which is both fun and challenging. When I read old Hobbes reviews or forum posts it’s something that I definitely take into account. In some sense, the 5-year old review of a pu’erh is more valuable than many other teas because it’s at least still the same tea. A review of gaoshan or green tea is closer to worthless (other than an assessment of how a vendor was back then).

      Agreed re: body effects. It’s something that I’ve not been very confident talking about in the past which I’m trying to understand and improve upon. One of the challenging qualities of teas.

      Cheers!
      -James

  7. Ian says:

    I kind of shop for teas like I shop for movies to watch. Really all I want in the way of a recommendation is someone/a website I trust (via past experience/shared interest) to tell me that a thing is good/worthwhile, the actual experience is up to me. Were I to read an in-depth (inherently subjective) review of the thing ahead of time before I experienced it myself, complete with analysis and the precise reasons why it is good or bad, my personal experience is then inevitably colored/tainted. I don’t even watch trailers for this reason. But on the other hand, once you’ve really experienced a thing on it’s own, then it’s quite interesting to listen to how others experienced it and to start debates, find a way to articulate unarticulated thoughts etc. That’s to me what reviews ought to be for.

    Kind of along these lines, I personally get such a kick out of White2tea’s online store and by Cwyn’s non-reviews. I now trust that tea I buy from White2tea is generally pretty rad and sometimes amazing, but I really like how descriptions are kept to a minimum. It seems to me to fit the experience. Really no words in any language can fully describe the flavors and aromas and feelings of a good puer, so why try? All we really need to know is that the tea is good and maybe 1.where it came from 2. how old it is 3. how it has been stored. And I really loved in a recent post how Cwyn talked about her brownie eating potentially distorting the huigan of a fancy pants tea. Haven’t we all had awesome tea sessions that have been interlaced with life’s great distractions? Isn’t that all part of it?

    Of course it’s fun to be in a community, especially with something as so fringe-y as puer, and that’s what the Internet is good for. But community-building and white-whale-seeking and categorizing and reviewing aside, we’re all into tea because it’s a quiet beautiful slow thing that can’t be objectively described or judged but only sensed and felt and maybe remembered. Tea drinking is all about (personal and shared) moments and feelings, both fleeting and eternal. The best tea in the world is still just a worthless bunch of dried leaves and nothing more until we as tea drinkers derive a (subjective) experience from it. I actually don’t care about the indescribable details of someone else’s experience with this or that tea or like what exact flavor descriptors they conjure up for Tea x steep 7, but I do care that there are people who’re as excited about having those experiences as I am. That’s why I read the tea blogs I do and why I might someday consider starting my own.

    • James says:

      Hi Ian,

      Thanks for the comment.

      I look for movies & tea in much of the same way. Very little research on story or trailers. A movie is far more likely to be on my screen based off directors, reviews, genre, etc.

      You bring up a really good point re: descriptions that I hadn’t really thought through. I think drinkers that have and haven’t consumed the same tea as the review probably read reviews in very different ways. For me, the description becomes infinitely more interesting once I’ve actually consumed the tea. Where the tea is placed is more important for making a sample purchasing decision. I think you could even draw the same movie analogy here.. i.e. reading a movie review after watching the movie (vs. before) changes the context completely.

      Cheers!
      -James

  8. Oolong Owl says:

    I think a big thing with tea reviews is community and finding reviewers with tastes that match your own. You see “hey that gal likes the same tea as me and she also likes these other ones I haven’t had, I’m gonna check those out.” Finding that fellow tea reviewer that is like you is something people should take advantage of more.

    To add onto note 4 – as a tea reviewer myself, another reason you see a flood of reviews is sometimes tea sellers/marketing will mass email a bunch of tea bloggers or hit reddit/steepster to open the “Free sample” gates. Then predictably a week or so later everyone reviews the same thing creating a false popularity.

    Note 3 and insight to tea blogger drama – I’ve received teas to review that were complete garbage. I can call it out to the seller in public in a bad review or I can contact them privately and tell them the feedback to see what went wrong. Most often the tea was packaged poorly or shipped without care. Sometimes the tea seller will pull the tea off their store from the feedback, so whats the point in reviewing it then?

    • James says:

      Hi Oolong Owl,

      Thanks for sharing your experiences as a blogger. Much of it mirrors mine (and Dennys).

      Agreed on step 4. All the free samples and openly pining for reviews rubs me the wrong way a bit.

      Step 3. Usually I do much of the same. I guess my point here was intended primarily for the readers of reviews. The teas that are reviewed aren’t exactly the random pick of the litter. This reason is probably why most sites seem so positive when the reality is probably not quite so warm & fuzzy!

      As always, best of luck on the blog.

      Cheers!
      -James

  9. You’ve raised some really interesting points. As with anything consumable, it all comes down to personal taste. Our life experiences shape how we interact with everything that we eat or drink. I began my tea reviewing “career” on Teaviews.com but started my blog because I became disillusioned with the numbered rating system. I did learn some important lessons there though. Teas that I hated were beloved by others and vice versa. I think this is the advantage of a site like Steepster. You get many viewpoints, each helping you to determine where your own feelings may fall. That being said, the site does have some issues. Most of the user base is made up of beginners so there is a lack of knowledge in some cases. The folks who run the site have also failed to implement certain functions that would help retain the more serious tea drinkers.

    I receive many free teas but I review each one for what it is. Whether a tea was free or purchased does not have any bearing on how it is treated. Not all bloggers will maintain the same position or ethics so I do see your point there. If a tea is truly bad or if I feel it was falsely advertised, I will not write about it. However, I will let that vendor know my reasons. Any attention is good attention and I do not want to be connected in any way to such products. For SEO and ethical reasons, I’m also careful about only linking to companies that I trust.

    The interesting thing is that in many ways reviews are what runs the wine world. Whether it’s a blogger or a staff reviewer for a magazine, wine drinkers regularly use reviews to choose their purchases. They follow particular reviewers, based on what they know of that person’s background and expertise. I would like to think that the tea world will follow suit eventually. There are so many parallels between the two industries and I can only hope that they follow similar trajectories. Twenty years ago, most of the US didn’t know much of anything about wine other than that it was made from grapes. Nowadays it is a status symbol and even those of moderate income (like college students) can be fairly knowledgeable. Tea is an even more accessible luxury so I think we will see even more evolution within the next few years.

    • James says:

      Hi Nicole,

      Thanks for stopping in and sharing your perspective. You make some good points.

      SEO: re good point. I hadn’t thought about that. I guess with google bombs and other strange cases it is often best to remain silent!

      I probably fall into the cynical side of the spectrum, but I’m not quite as optimistic as you on the free vs. not-free being a non-factor. I (like you) try to do my best about being fair to all teas regardless of how they come out. Disregarding bloggers or reviews who will more blatantly show favoritism, I believe that there are hidden psychological elements that affect how we all approach the tea. Here’s an interesting read: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Funding_bias

      Agreed, re: tea reviews in the future. It’ll be interesting to see where it goes.

      Cheers!
      -James

  10. sherapop says:

    I don’t think of Steepster as a serious site for connoisseurs. It’s more like a club of mostly like-minded people. A lot of reviewers rave about blends which sound frankly repulsive to me, and they seem truly to enjoy swapping and trading tea, which is of course perfectly fine, but does not appeal to me in the least. It just doesn’t make much sense to me, given how inexpensive tea is to begin with (relative to just about anything else). Why would I want someone else’s old tea, when I don’t even want my own????

    Anyway, for many of the reasons cited by others above (especially the lack of any true significance to the stats) I now go there primarily to keep a log of the teas I’ve consumed. To be honest, I don’t consider Steepster to be a cosmopolitan intellectual or aesthetic or epicurean community at all. More like a tiny neighborhood, with all of the predictable foibles and shortcomings. In the forum, people seem to pass most of their time oscillating between sharing orders and (often) complaining about how much they just spent on tea, and planning out strategies for cutting back. Not too much talk about tea itself–much more about acquisition and collecting and (then) dealing with OCD.

    I’ll probably just post at my new blog (sherapop’s tea leaves) once I have resettled (I am moving in three weeks to New Zealand).

    • James says:

      Hi Sherapop,

      Thanks for the comment. For a while I felt pretty similar to how you do about steepster, and there’s certainly some chunks of the community that fit into those categories. That being said, there’s a few communities and some folks on steepster who’s interests are more closely aligned with mine.

      Good luck on the blog! Cheers!
      -James

  11. Great write-up. And I agree with most of the examples you guys provided. Most were the reason I stopped doing reviews, and focused more on teas with stories. Less problematic.

    Thanks for covering this.

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