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Is it fair for me to rate and review teas?

I have a question I wanted to throw out to the Steepster crowd. I just signed up and I’m already obsessed. I have been resisting the urge to compulsively share every tea I’m drinking, every tea I’ve recently tried and every tea I’m dying to try.

My problem is that I work for a coffee and tea company. I feel like I can’t rate my own teas – obviously I am biased, I created half of our blends and flavors.
I also consume a lot of tea from other brands that i would love to share online. However I think that rating competitors teas might also be kind of sketchy.

I’m very interested in what the community thinks. Can I rate teas honestly? Is it better for my own integrity and that of Steepster’s for me to steer clear of rates and reviews?

What do you think?

34 Replies
Zeks said

I’d say – fire away :) Even if you are biased it will ultimately even out as community adds their own reviews of these teas :)

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I am glad to hear you asked the community before rating your company’s teas.

My brief two cents:
Write as many reviews as possible. Tell us up front about your involvement in creating the blend in the review of the tea. And I ask that you include as much objective data as possible (along with your own subjective likes and dislikes, which are also valuable). AND, I invite you to leave off the rating. As long as you don’t touch the rating bar with your mouse it won’t register a rating when you post a review (or, if you do touch it, there is a little ‘x’ that allows you to remove it). There has been much written about this very topic out here (when a tea retailer—or an employee of a tea retailer—reviews a tea), and not everyone agrees with this approach (some feel its OK to give the tea a numerical rating along with the written review). But I am glad you asked.

Zeks said

AFAIK, you can’t affect the rating past 80 by just one vote here anyway. So, imo, he can rate all he wants :)

Uniquity said

@Zeks – If there are no ratings yet (or ony a few) it can actually have a huge impact. There has been trouble over the years with companies rating their own teas artificially high to boost their ratings (and artificially low ratings for their competitors), so it is generally preferred (and I think is posted somewhere?) that companies don’t assign a numerical rating to their reviews.

I didn’t know that I could review a tea without leaving a numerical rating. That’s very helpful, thank you.

DukeGus said

I go with SimpliciTEA 100%, nothing to add though :)

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momo said

You can write tasting notes and not give them a numerical rating (this is what I do because it’s just way too hard for me to assign numbers to them). That way, you don’t actually affect the rating on Steepster also.

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Azzrian said

I agree :)
By not rating you do not change the rating index on the teas that we go by to gauge a tea quality or vendor!
Yet we benefit from seeing your notes on the teas!
Really if you think about it ratings as a whole are, well, over rated! LOL
they are too subject to each person’s palate, knowledge, proper or improper steeping, heck I should use a gaiwan more than I do – you see? Ratings don’t really do it for me anyway although I do leave them often enough.
I benefit just as much from the tea notes themselves if not more!
Welcome!

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Pithy said

I think you should definitely review your teas and be upfront that you work at the company. It might even be a great place to give up some insider info about the tea that people may not get from the description. Its ok to gush about your own teas, but I’m with Simplicitea – just don’t rate it. We all know you want to give it a 100. And you’re not fooling anyone if you give it a 95.

As for other company’s tea, I think its ok for you to review AND rate them. If people like your company and your teas they probably trust your taste and would be interested to see other teas you enjoy and rate highly.

If you have only bad things to say about a tea, I would just not post anything. As a competitor it will only look like you have no tact. Low scores you should keep to yourself.

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WOW, so many responses so fast. I love this website!!
I promise to read them all and give feedback where I can asap.

Thanks for the help Steep Peeps

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Ian said

I agree with others-if you choose to review your own teas than I think leaving off a rating would be best. However, if you’re reviewing teas from an unrelated company that you have no business-related relationship to, than I don’t see a problem in rating the teas, so long as you don’t do it to hurt the company and promote your own (not saying you would but just in case). I think I would expand that to saying that if you’re reviewing another conpany’s blend or tea that is similar to one of your own you shouldn’t rate it, because it may seem like you’re saying what you’re saying to promote your own blend/tea (again, not that you would be it would be the right thing to do)

Hope I helped! I can see how this could be a slippery slope and I would say just do what you feel comfortable with-if you establish yourself in the community and get to know some people here, it will much clearer that you aren’t here solely to promote your own company.

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ChaMei select said

Welcome! I thought I recognized your company’s website. I had wandered and bookmarked it for its coffee samplers, then scrapped my shopping cart when it got too big. I tend to be binary with shopping; it’s all in or nothing. Right now, I don’t feel confident enough with coffee for a big order. Yet. I would love your input on tea… Or otherwise.
I actually found Steepster after poring over Coffeegeek.com and wondering if there was a similar avid community for tea. I believe there is room for both loves in my life (after my fiancé of course).

It is possible to love both coffee and tea. I drink way too much of both every day. Coffeegeek is a great website but so far I like Steepster better. Tons of great info on Coffeegeek but my brain responds better to all the visual stimuli on this site.

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Missy said

Welcome!

I second most of what has been said above. Write all the tasting notes you like. They will be helpful to others in choosing which teas to buy and how they should be prepared. With an objective tasting note and no numerical rating, it will be difficult to assume you have questionable intentions. Just to play on the safe side, I would stick with this protocol while reviewing other teas than your own. Enjoy!

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chadao said

I say, rate the teas. Every tea company owner has the same advantage as you do, if that is what you want to call it. As was said above, one rating will not do much to change the overall consensus.

I rate my teas by how much I like them, just like everyone else. However, my degree of like extends to not only sensory appeal, but company infrastructure (are all producers and workers being treated equitably in a visible way?), company transparency (nothing is “secret”), customer service, and relative quality of product.

I work at Teavana, but I will never rate their teas above a 65, because the company is not transparent as to their tea sourcing, they are very “secretive” about their products, and they care 95% about monetary profit, and 5% about tea quality and customer service. This is an honest (maybe convoluted, but at least honest) appraisal of the company that I work for. Don’t get me wrong, I love my job and the fact that I have one, but relatively, the company’s infrastructure and product do not match up to what I have seen out there.

DukeGus said

Wow mate, I love you honesty about Teavana

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