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Swapping Guidelines/Suggestions

As a service to swappers, especially first timers – why dont we put together some guidelines with suggestions? :)

37 Replies
Dustin said

It appears to be an unspoken courtesy to mention the person you got the tea from in your tasting notes. It’s also nice to let the sender know that the tea arrived to you (something I’m not always on the ball about).

yeah, that is nice haha. i actually note the swapper when i catalog my teas so i can mention them when i get around to making tasting notes :)

Cavocorax said

That’s a good idea to make notes. I just try to drink it soon enough after I get it that I remember where it came from.

i use TheBrain free edition. very easy to use and i like that i can remember who shared this and that tea with me even after some time has passed ^^ very useful too since i like to try similar teas side by side for comparison so a sample may have to wait for quite a while to be tasted :) also helps me to locate where a certain tea is at the moment since i havent taken some out of their envelopes yet :)

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Emily M said

It’s always helpful if the person sending swaps includes the name of the tea, the company it’s sold by, and any steeping information (amount per cup,time,temp)that came with it. This will keep the person from having to look it up or guess (although guessing can be fun, sometimes you don’t get too much room for error with the amount swapped). It’s also nice to mention the sender in tasting notes (though not mandatory for me, it does help in letting other potential swappers know that this person has had successful swaps in the past) and to notify the sender when the swap gets to you.
There are many other discussions about swaps on steepster already. Here’s just a few of them:
http://steepster.com/discuss/628-swap-etiquette
http://steepster.com/discuss/2262-help-with-swaps-slash-trades
http://steepster.com/discuss/3880-how-does-swapping-tea-work-and-anyone-interested
http://steepster.com/discuss/3012-swapping-protocol

All you have to do to find more is search “swaps” or “swap”.

Also, I found that the people I was swapping with for the first time were very helpful, and gave useful info/answered my questions.
In swapping, communication is key!

oooh, i was looking for those threads!

the first thread was mainly about acknowledging receipt of tea package, 2nd link is about packaging in ziplocks (biodegradable ones are now the rage), 3rd link are people saying they wanna swap, 4th is about some swappers sending more than what was agreed upon

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I’ve noticed on my first trades, and I do it with all my trades – is to add a bonus secret sample or two. Surprises are really fun!
(the hard part is being really thorough to check their notes to see if they haven’t tried that tea yet!)

Emily M said

This is a great idea! I got a surprise with my last swap, and really appreciated it.

wow, you are so thoughtful AS! i havent thought about having to check their cupboards or worse, tasting notes hahaha.

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State amounts of tea, in grams or ounces.
I can’t tell you how often I have received WAY less than I sent.

I’ve done some trades where the other person doesn’t have a scale, so we go by teaspoons (or DavidsTea Perfect teaspoons) as our measurement – works okay in a pinch!

Emily M said

tattooed_tea – Yes, this is very important too! You want to make it as fair as possible. It can be frustrating when you swap a certain amount and don’t get the same in return.
I usually go by teaspoons as well (as most people have the ability to measure this), but sometimes people’s teaspoons are smaller or they just use a regular house spoon. You just need to clarify. If both parties have a scale, great. If not, just try to be as specific as possible in order to make it fair.
Unfortunately, sometimes you aren’t going to get the exact amount you traded back… but that’s one risk you have to be willing to take. As SimplyJenW has said below, some swaps go badly. You have to be willing to cut your loses.

All that being said, I’ve had a pretty good experience with swaps so far.

I completely agree. In some cases it’s unavoidable.
But yes I have had mostly great experiences with swapping!

Uniquity said

I rarely swap but I don’t think I have done many ‘even’ swaps. In my first, my partner gave WAY more than she said she would and ever since I have tried to do the same. I get to ‘get rid of’ my less favourite tea and hopefully the other person gets to enjoy lots of new kinds. I like to hope I am putting some good karma out in the universe. :)

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SimplyJenW said

My advice is not to swap anything you cannot afford to lose. Some swaps go badly, and sometimes not because of anything the swappers did.

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In the 2 months that I have been swapping, I learned a lot like:

It helps to get those small ziplocks for swapping samples and biodegradable ones are available.

It helps to discuss teaspoons/oz and how many teas are involved especially for those who want a more or less fair swap. And it also helps to have a digital scale if you want to swap by oz, otherwise regular measuring spoons work out just fine. A tsp of tea is usually enough to make 1 cup but it also depends on the tea leaves.

Will update this as I remember stuff :)

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Dinosara said

I have to say that although I am happy to get swaps where people use regular ziplocs or small, thin plastic ziploc bags, I really do prefer when someone uses a heavier, airtight bag. Not just for storage of the samples, but for preventing scent contamination of heavily flavored samples. It used to be that almost all the swaps I did came in these type of pouches but now no one seems to use them (now I sound old and curmudgeonly).

I bought 100 of these exact bags ages ago.
http://www.ebay.com/itm/100-3-5×5-Ziplock-Stand-Up-Pouches-Bags-SUP-AA-Silver-/310620883215?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item485272890f

They are sturdy, airtight and scent-proof, and this size (3.5×5″) holds about 25g of black tea when packed absolutely full. They also have ones that don’t have the clear window on one side. So if you are looking for something more high quality than a thin ziploc bag, I would recommend picking up some of these.

Uniquity said

These ones do work much better to avoid scent contamination and preserve freshness. Thumbs up! :)

lol @curmudgeonly

I have been planning to buy a bunch of silver biodegradable standup pouches and though I just got a whole lot of biodegradable ziplocks, I know I will have to get these soon enough!

Sil select said

you just made my day! Thanks Dinosara! I actually hate using ziplocs, and i’ve been able to find a bit thicker bags in craft stores, but i still find that scent contamination occurs. :(

Is there anywhere besides ebay that you’ve seen these?

momo said

There are some on Amazon, I have this on my wishlist for next time I make an order: http://www.amazon.com/3-5×4-25-Silver-Lock-Foil-Pouches/dp/B006LFEBT4/ref=sr_1_23?ie=UTF8&qid=1363188220&sr=8-23&keywords=zip+lock+pouches
This company sells a bunch of different ones so just check their other items. eBay always has a better deal on them.

Dinosara said

Yay, glad to have helped. There used to be a few tea companies that carried them as well, but looking back at all the old links that doesn’t seem to be the case anymore. Too bad!

Emily M said

Unfortunately a lot of the foil/mylar bags have to be heat sealed. I bought 4mil thick ziplock plastic baggies that work alright. Better than the regular sandwich bags. I double bag the teas that I fear may be too strong smelling. For now they work ok. I just wish they weren’t clear plastic.

Dinosara said

These pouches are definitely airtight when ziplocked, so fortunately they don’t need heat sealing!

Emily M said

Oh, awesome! Thanks for the info. I’ll probably be grabbing some of these, then.

Kittenna said

I have a few of these from swaps with LiberTEAS, as well as from companies from whom I’ve purchased samples. I’m hoping to wash a few out eventually and re-use them, as long as they didn’t get contaminated themselves! The ziploc sandwich baggies I’ve been using are subpar, IMO. Too big, most often, and lots of potential for scent contamination (not that it always happens, but it can).

Fiddling said

Those bags look great, thanks for sharing!

Momo – I bought those exact bags from Amazon. They hold about 4-5 teaspoons of tea, which is fine for samples. The one drawback is that you need to heat seal the bottom of the bag with an iron. Once sealed, they are great at keeping air out!

Sucks that to ship to Canada it’s $24.00…. more than the cost of the bags!

Emily M said

whatshesaid- HOLY SHIPPING! That’s ridiculous!

Sil select said

I found a few places in Canada where shipping isn’t nearly as ridiculous. Ill try and post when I get back to my computer vs the iPad.

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I will be getting a lot of those silver standup zips (no windows) soon. Message me how many you want so I can figure in your order with mine. Price will be similar, if not lower. And shipping is at cost :)

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Lala said

I like when people post on a thread that they have received a swap from another steepster. When I first started swapping, it was a bit of a struggle to know who I could trust with swapping. If you post it, it just shows who is swapping and that each person is living up to their end of the swap.
In saying that, I have never had a swap partner that didn’t do what they said they would do!

hmmm, ok. will post all the swaps i got on the What you received in the mail today. got quite a bit but figured I’d just post the names on the tasting notes but seeing that it helps a lot of people…i will do that more faithfully too :D

good input, Lala!

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I see on the swapping thread that some people list the number of baggies they have of each. How much is typically in a bag? Enough for 2-3 cups? I kind of like the idea of partitioning out all the teas I know I won’t drink, but I want to do it in the right increments.

I do 3 tsp/6gram samples unless otherwise requested which is enough for 2-3 cups :)

bags are usually teabags, i believe.
cup’s worth = 1tsp

you can also simply indicate the weight and someone might be interested in swapping for the whole thing. got a digital scale for as low as $10 on amazon :)

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