to score or not score, that is the question...
trusting the steepster score is a double edged sword.
if you don’t enjoy a certain tea, just tried a tea that you didn’t like, or are a connoisseur of a tea but were let down by the company’s standards… explain your reasoning for the score, otherwise there’s no point. same goes for the opposite.
for example, i saw someone give a sencha a low score, because he/she said that they don’t like sencha. if you don’t like a certain tea, why even score it?
there’s a difference between expressing your opinion, and just being annoying.
I believe in scoring according to my experience of the tea. If I have a bad experience with a tea, I will give it a low score whether it’s a known dislike or not. If I drank it, I will post about it. If I post about it I will score it 99% of the time. The only exception being if I’m really in doubt, and decide I need to have the tea a few more times before being able to make that decision. That way, if you take an overall look at how I’ve scored, you should be able to work out what I tend to like and what I tend to dislike. It’s the full picture of my particular taste. Therefore it is also impossible to score objectively. At least it is for me. I know that Darjeeling for example is supposed to be some really posh stuff, but I don’t like it much so I can’t bring myself to give it a hundred points, just because others tell me it’s really fancy. That, I feel, would be lying.
I also believe in using the scale in its full entirety. Some people don’t like using the lower end of the scale because they feel like they would be ‘bashing’ the tea, especially if it’s a tea a lot of people otherwise like. I believe the lower end of the scale is there so that we can use it. If we were not allowed to score low, it would not be there. And where would it end? First, we’re bashing if use the red points, then the yellow points become the lower end of the scale. That we can’t use. So then it becomes in bad taste to use the yellow points as well. Then the light green points becomes the lower end of the scale. That, if anything, breaks the scoring system and this is why Steepster doesn’t use a straight average when calculating the site rating.
Some people find that the scoring system doesn’t work for them at all, so they never use it. Some people like it, so they use it. I would say, if you want to score your teas, score ALL of them. If you don’t think the scoring system works for you, don’t use it.
Everybody interprets the range of points so that it suits them best. Nobody should be forced to score according to other people’s standards. The points any given tea has will always reflect someone’s personal experience, and as nobody can taste with other people’s tongues, nobody else can say whether this is the correct score or not, because there’s no such thing as a ‘correct way to score’ in this instance. Personally I find it really annoying when people try to stick their noses in how I interpret my own experiences.
So no, never trust someone else’s scoring of a tea unless you are absolutely certain that your tastes matches theirs entirely. That seems to be common sense to me.
And that is my opinion. Sorry if it’s annoying.
I fully agree with everything said by Angrboda.
In addition, I would say that someone who doesn’t like Sencha has perfectly the right to continue drinking senchas (and so rate them…) because it just means he/she never found a sencha he/she likes until now.
It just doesn’t mean this person won’t find the appropriate sencha for his/her tastes.
It would help other steepsters users to choice/pick up some teas regarding the profile of the reviewer, if they feel closed from the reviewer or not regarding tea preferences and tastes.
I’m suprised you can find annoying some reviews, of course some are better than others, more complete etc…but they are just the reflect of an instant, an impression, an opinion.
Unless I know that my sample was clearly contaminated and not an accurate representation of a tea, I rate it. I think the ratings are there for a reason, which is to share each individual reaction and rating of the tea. If the Steepster Gods wanted only good ratings, they wouldn’t have offered us a 0 – 100 scale. If I don’t like a certain kind of tea I will mention it and take it into account, but I still rate it. If a tea is extremely overpriced or I have a bad experience with the company, I will mention that. Similarly, if I have a great experience or it is a great price I will mention it too. I use Steepster for myself, so I figure I can rate and write what I want (within reason).
I think each person interprets the scoring system differently, therefore I can’t look at a tea that someone else scores and use that as a determinate for whether I like it. I also look at peoples reviews and ratings to determine who I want to follow. I use the scoring system for myself really. To keep track of which teas I like or dislike. After trying a tea several times, I will often go and change my score because I have changed my mind on the tea. When I look at a tea on steepster I don’t really consider the score, I have purchased many teas that were rated low by steepster because I wanted to try them.
Steepster doesn’t have a set guideline for how to rate a tea, so I think its to each their own.
One other point, there have been teas that consistently scored low on steepster, and the tea companies then changed the blend based on the reviews. So I think the lower end of the rating system does have a purpose.
I think everyone above has covered anything I was going to add to this discussion. At the end of the day, the ratings are for myself. I may use steepster ratings from others as a starting point, but generally I also look at the reviews to see what else people noted about the brew. Maybe people found it steeped better at lower temps etc..
“there’s a difference between expressing your opinion, and just being annoying.”
Telling people how to express themselves, especially in a community you just jumped into, seems to fit the second part of that above statement. Just relax, have a cup of tea and let others enjoy theirs the way they want to.
I used the scoring when I 1st joined the site (A few months after I started actively tea shopping/drinking.) But over time it got to me. I don’t like how scores can affect the over all rating. i would rather it be something like:
this tea has been scored 100% by X number of people and taking the rating from there. I also wish for a more simpler rating, as I had a hard time formulating what my own system would be, had a hard time keeping to consistencies on the rating. (But that one is on me.) I also think that it should be a drop down menu of numbers or at least ranges.
I’ve been hurt by people coming on Steepster and saying I was a liar or paid to write favorable reviews implying that I was dishonest. People who have never written any reviews on Steepster just show up to cause trouble. Those of us who have been here a long time know each other. We know who likes certain kinds of tea and who likes certain companies better than others. There are Verdant Fans, Butiki Fans, Harney and Son’s Fans, Davids Fan’s, 52 Tea’s, Mandala and so on. Sweet, Puerh, plain and fancy…we’re all different and some are new to tea and some not.
After a long time and some abuse, I stopped using the scoring system except when a company is new and it’s possibly a first tea offering and I like it a lot. A boost may be in order! Or if there is a charity involved…as was the case with the Kickstarter for the Oolong Harvest with Nepali Tea Traders not long ago. (They are 100% non-profit).
Now I feel free to like whatever I want to without feeling like I’m going to get scolded.
One thing that does annoy me is when I read someone say that they oversteeped a tea or used too little leaf so they’re scoring the tea low. Don’t people realize that tea vendors are counting on reviews to help sell their tea? This isn’t just some game! They work hard! We should be more respectful of their hard work!
I’ve helped some tea blenders for free and know it takes hours and hours to get a blend right.
Also, if you’re sick and write that your taste buds are shot, that you burned dinner and can’t taste the tea, you don’t have to give a rating. The box at the left allows you to skip that option. Have some decency and respect for the tea! MY SOAPBOX!
i’m not saying people shouldn’t give a tea a low score. if you just tried a tea that you didn’t like, or are a connoisseur of a tea but were let down by the company’s standards, or have a change of heart, etc… you should rate it accordingly, but also explain why. so people could have a general idea of why people liked/disliked the tea. otherwise, there’s no point in scoring it.
the same is true for the opposite.
now if you don’t enjoy a certain tea and never have (bonnie also had some great points), i don’t understand why anyone would go out of their way to give it a low rating. that’s what i meant by being annoying, because it makes the scale unreliable.
lastly, you don’t have to be a veteran to see a flaw in a system. no offense, but most veterans stopped using the scale, instead of addressing how unreliable it is. (sorry dustin)
i do apologize if i sounded like a snob.
hopefully the steepster admins could look at this post as a way to update the rating system.
My advice is not to look at individual ratings, just the average scores. That effectively negates very low (or high) ratings and in general, is fairly accurate for what is/isn’t good. And even more useful, just read the reviews instead of looking at the numbers. There are some excellent reviews that give you far, far more information than a number ever could.
If you can devise a perfect rating system, I’m sure the Steepster admins would love to hear about it, but to be quite honest, I think the current system does the best it possibly can given the fact that objective rating is impossible to enforce. The choice to use it is up to individual users.
Don’t be sorry. I am not implying there are no flaws in the system. The rating system is based on some mathematical equation that I don’t grasp as well as individual preference. The part that I find annoying is someone jumping in and saying how people should or even if they should rate the teas they have tried. I don’t think there really is a wrong way to use the rating system as people use it for different intentions.
One of the problems is that there isn’t a clear definition of what the number means. Some people are reviewing flavor and some value. Others taste, aroma,leaf quality and value. Sometimes all these considerations are thrown out and you get a “I hate hibiscus” kind of review (so why did you buy or drink the tea) rated in the teens. There should be some clarity, I think, improvements to the scoring system.
I have written an “I hate hibiscus” post before where the tea company did not state on the website that the tea contained hibiscus, so I was disappointed with the product I was drinking. Now I know to always look at the ingredient list once the tea arrives, but I still believe in the low rating I gave that tea.
I think one of the fun things about this site is that the tea scale is different for each person. For me it’s one more way to get to know a fellow tea lover.
I take the ratings with a grain of salt when it comes to picking teas that I want to try. I might use it as a guide but even so I will read a few of the reviews and use those along with my personal tastes to educate my decisions over the average user rating. I don’t think the scale is necessarily reliable in the first place because it will always be skewed by personal preferences and vendor activity on steepster. Some people are also just much tougher scorers than others. For me 50+ is an acceptable tea, 75+ is a notable tea and at 90+ it better be blowing my mind.
For my initial ratings I aim to brew the tea according to the packaging, which I think is fairest to the company. I may then however comment that I think the tea would be better with more leaf or a lower/higher temp or shorter/longer brew time. I also drink tea with friends/family most of the time and if I don’t really like a tea but know people who do I’ll mention that too and try to pick out what it is that I don’t like about it.
I think it is unavoidable that someone who LOVES oolongs is going to rank a good oolong higher than a good black tea if they only like black tea. It follows then that if the same person doesn’t really like sencha that they are not going to rank a good sencha highly either. If they state as much in their tasting notes, I don’t have any issue with it at all.
I like the mention of the scoring. I put a note on my bio of how I rate, as I don’t tend to go above 80 unless it is amazing. I think in general that makes my numbers more critical than many other users but they aren’t intended to be so, it is just the way I can best use more of the scale. It is a bit tricky in that you have to look at my rating AND my bio to know that but at least the info is there. I also try to note in my posts my opinion of it’s quality and if there are similar teas that I like in case someone else reads it and is looking to branch out. But like I said above, my notes are really for me. It is a public forum, but I am hardly an authority on tea or quality. I just like what I like. Which is tea. :)