How to write a good tea review
Sorry if this was already a discussion topic but if so i could not find it. I was wondering if anybody had any pointers to writing a good and helpful tea review? Thanks!
Some things to consider and discuss in your review would be
Dry leaf look and smell
Steeped tea look color aroma and of course taste
If it reminds you of anything.
How it makes you feel – emotions it may evoke.
If it is smooth, mellow, creamy, spicy, buttery, etc.
Steeping times and temps.
What you steeped it in.
Vendor name and of course tea name :)
Just a few thoughts off the top of my head but I am sure others will mention more! :)
Very good question. No problem asking anything here (even if there was a similar topic already).
I agree with all of the things Azzrian posted.
If I can, before I do anything, I like to ask myself why I want to do what I do. For example, I use Steepster for numerous reasons. One reason I write a tea review is to simply make notes for myself to help me make a future decision on whether or not to buy—if I’m reviewing a sample, for example, and comparing it to a number of other samples. I also make brewing notes to help me know what the best steeping times and temperatures are when I brew it up next. But lastly, and most importantly, I write a Tea review as a kind of outlet for my writing and as a way to express to other like-minded tea enthusiasts my passion for Tea. If it helps others, great. If not, at least I derived some value out of writing and posting the review.
So, why do you want to write tea reviews?
I’m not sure if my preferences are really any good, but I like it when it’s at least a little entertaining. People who write posts that are essentially just a list of keywords, sometimes sorted into categories don’t interest me.
I try to avoid getting into any such patterns with everything divided up into categories. I think it reads like a text book sometimes, and frequently some of the categories I’m just not even remotely interested in at all. Like for example the colour. Some people are very big on the colour of the tea, but unless it’s very striking, I hardly ever even look at it. It’s important to some, but not to me. So if somebody has made a post with categories, I find myself skipping half of the post because that bit doesn’t interest me at all, and perhaps that’s really a shame?
But that’s all a question of style, though, isn’t it? I like best to read the same style of posts that I write too.
Apart from the actual content, I would also say, pay attention to formatting. Some people tend to write long posts in one great big huge paragraph. My brain balks at reading a wall of text like that. Be generous with the enter key, is my advice.
You now, people are so different, I prefer a sort of “loosely broken up” style, ie either the facts like “brewing” etc are at the beginning (so people disinterested in this can skip over, or people only looking for advice on this can read and then maybe skip the more personal stuff if the person is perhaps trying it for the first time and forming and opinion).
Or, it’s broken up into a couple of overall sections so that anyone looking for somethign specific can find it, but the personal and entertaining info is mingled through.
I find posts without a little bit of structure harder to read and I have to make myself concentrate when the subject matter (your review of the tea and your inspiration to drink it or as a consequence of drinking it!) is something Iwant to read. I think it’s because I get distracted easily, my brain stopped working properly after I finished at university!
My favorite thing to focus on when writing tea reviews is how the tea itself makes me feel. While I agree that everything Azzrian mentioned is important (and I do tend to include most of those details), the topic of how it makes you feel (and if it reminds you of anything) is the most important to me. It’s focusing on that which has brought out some of my personal favorite descriptions of teas that I’ve tried, including descriptions about being in the woods, or on a beach.
There is no limit to what you can write, but by describing how you feel and what you think of is a great way to go. Our sense of smell has been linked to our strongest memories, and our sense of taste is strongly dependent on smell. So close your eyes, smell your tea, taste your tea, and let my mind do the rest!
I find this to be is a very interesting topic, with many different interesting things to discuss. : )
I agree that white space greatly adds to the readability of the review. I like Angrboda’s phrase ‘wall of text’. That description resonates with me.
And certainly, as Dinahsaur and Azzrian pointed out, writing about how the Tea makes me feel (or put another way, what comes up for me) is an integral part of the review for me, and I like to read about the Tea from that point of view in the reviews of others.
Still, I also value data. I find the directions for brewing the tea from the tea retailer to not always be the best for my tastes; after-all, those directions are meant to be more of a general guideline to be modified as needed; and if I only have a sample of the tea, I may not have enough of it to do more than one or two brewing sessions. So, I commonly look to reviews for what the the brewing parameters of others were, to see what worked, and didn’t work, and possibly even why. If I have plenty of the Tea, then I can figure out the best way to brew it on my own over several brewing sessions; but if it’s a sample, then specifics regarding how to brew the Tea become more important to me.
So, if someone tells me how they felt when drinking it, along with other anecdotal information (which may or may not be entertaining), but tell me nothing about the steeping time or temperature used, then, when I am looking for the data (and btw, I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with reviews that don’t have it), the review is of limited value to me (I have looked up a few teas such that the reviews mention nothing about steeping times and temperatures, not even in those ‘indicators’ at the bottom of a review). Of course, no one is obliged to include this information, but that’s why I usually include that type of information in my reviews. I mention this here because I think this thread is a great place to talk about what matters in a review to each of us.
As was mentioned, I also am more likely to want to read a review if I think the reviewer is ‘entertaining’.
I have a few thoughts on what ‘entertaining’ means; and although they are more about writing than Tea, I think they are relevant to this discussion. So read on only if you are interesting in reading the peculiar musings of a fellow writer/philosopher. : )
I looked up the word ‘entertaining’ to see what synonyms came up http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/entertaining , and they were all very subjective (amusing, delightful, diverting, enjoyable, fun, pleasurable). So, what entertains will be—and may be vastly—different from one person to the next. Although it is tempting, I don’t consciously try to be entertaining in my reviews. I think the best (and in a way, most entertaining) writing is the most honest writing. The posts of mine that I found to be the most entertaining were the ones when I simply wrote what was coming up for me, without being cognizant of my audience.
All that to say, when I edit my posts (which I almost always do), I do think about my ‘audience’, but not from a standpoint of, is this entertaining, instead it’s more of, is what I am saying clear, relevant to Tea, and honest. I have read a fair number of books on how to write creatively, and the biggest theme I remember in all of them is: write from the deepest part of who you are. And I believe the creative writing element has an important place in our reviews as they are often written from a standpoint somewhat like the way a diary is written. It seems the writing we as humans value the most comes from writers that have a unique style. I think this to be true, for I have noticed many of my favorite authors to have a style unique unto themselves (J. R.R. Tolkien, Frank Herbert, T.H. White, Herman Melville).
ADDITION One of my favorite directors is Rob Reiner. Not long ago, I watched the making of The Princess Bride; one thing I will never forget about that piece was what he tells his actors right before the scene is shot: “I need you to << he tells them specifics about what the character needs to do >>, and most importantly, do it your way.”
So, if you want, tell us how the Tea made you feel, give us the details on how your brewed it, write about the flavor, the color, the aromas, talk about the memories that came up for you, but most of all, do it in a way only you can do. : – )
Off on your sidebar…. I LOVE The Princess Bride and one time watched the video diary of… Cary Elwes, I think it was. The most heartbreaking moment is when he’s talking to Andre about how he enjoys filming and Andre makes a comment that he absolutely loves it and expands to say, “No one looks at me” (or something along those lines) because he’s so used to being stared at and people just treat him like the human he is during filming. And he had never really felt that before. Then it goes in on how he passed away since then and it was absolutely devastating. I totally cried.
ANYWAY! That was a complete tangent, but I couldn’t help myself…
I remember watching something where they talked about Andre (it may have been the ‘making of’) which was very touching; although he was a wrestling star, and an unusually large man, in that video everyone testified that he was very kind and gentle, something that I find very admirable about him. It was a great movie on many different levels. For example, they say the sword fighting scene was the best in Hollywood since the days of Errol Flynn. Anyway, Dinahsaur, I’m glad you like it too!