Tea Bloggers and Ratings

I have a question for the Steepster community, do you thing that Tea Bloggers who also post their reviews on Steepster should refrain from using numerical ratings? I have noticed that it seems pretty split down the middle, so I am curious what you all think!

(I have been debating removing my ratings, not because of the blog but because I really dislike assigning numerical ratings to things, it is hard!)

33 Replies

Just to throw in more complexity – if we purchased the tea ourselves, how is it less different than any other Steepster rating the tea? Ditto for Steepsters who get free tea or participate in a TTB and asked to provide a review for the tea? It is also unfair to small tea companies who have little reviews or no ratings and them not getting a little boost with a rating, especially if their tea is good.

I think ideally to remove bias, teablogger or not, if you get the tea for free you shouldn’t rate (not counting the tea blogger who do rate on their blog). I’ve seen on other places dissing Steepsters for fake inflated high ratings due to free samples.

At minimum (which i keep forgetting to do on steepster, but I do regularly on the blog) is to outright state whether you bought the tea or got it for free. That way people can judge from there.

I personally take Steepster ratings with a huge grain of salt. Everyone has different scales, tea experience and tastes. People also don’t do the same steeping methods (which is more of a limit of the platform not making us choose an option for gongfu/western).

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Dexter said

I’m a non blogger, and I don’t normally sign up for free intro samples. However I’m not sure how that’s any different from the free samples companies include with orders.
I don’t have a problem with people rating free samples as long as they are honest about it. You should love/like/dislike/hate the tea based on what it is not because it was free.
I think everyone uses Steepster differently, and therefor I too take the ratings with a huge grain of salt. When I started on Steepster, I was assigning numerical ratings to my tasting notes but quickly realized how confusing thst was for me. I would look down my list of top rated teas and find in hind site that tea A was rated higher than tea B even though that might not be how I feel about them. I stopped rating them for me not for anyone else.

I don’t have a problem with anyone rating or not rating the tea regardless of the source (the exception being vendors rating their own tea) as long as they are fair about it. :)

boychik said

i stopped rating long ago because of the same reason. it was almost impossible to put a number

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I don’t rate them, but I stopped long before I started blogging. I will use the recommend/not button but in general I don’t think ratings on here mean anything. I see people absolutely tank a rating because there is an ingredient they happen to not like (which is really unfair) and people who post reviews like “It sucks” with no real content value in there, so total grain of salt.

boychik said

I even get upset when i read someones review “today was a bad day for me therefore I hate this tea and give it 16”. Dont rate at all and come back when you are in a better mood.

I’m super guilty of this… :/
I also rated teas low when companies sent me another tea without contacting me about one that I ordered not being in stock so they switched it out; all three times that this has happened has been via Etsy.

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I am new on Steepster and I only have five reviews posted. I have already decided, however, not to rate the teas. One reason is that the ratings are so subjective. I even rated a particular tea quite high, based on the fact that I’ve been buying and drinking that exact tea since the early 1970’s. It’s not the world’s greatest tea but my memories make it quite wonderful. This kind of rating is only for myself, the writer, and it won’t help anyone else.
I really enjoy reading the notes that Steepsters write and I am so happy to have found this community.

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I started reviewing things for SororiTea Sisters not that long ago, but prior to that and even now I numerically rate almost everything I drink. On the blog I actually don’t have any sort of rating system other than what I write – people can make their minds up based on my words and their own preferences.

Here on Steepster I use the numerical ratings almost solely for personal reference, though I do take into consideration that other people see my ratings too so when I have a strong bias about something, such as blends that use a LOT of ginger since it’s an ingredient I can’t stand, I usually elect not to score it numerically. Like Marzipan said, I find it incredibly unfair when decent teas get bad reviews/rating because someone didn’t like the ingredients. Though I always state that the reason I’m not rating it has to do with bias.

Honestly, I don’t see the difference with bloggers assigning numerical ratings though. Quite often what I’m reviewing I’ve purchased myself or received in swaps which really isn’t different than anyone else. Then there are the companies that offer free tea in exchange for reviews; many of which offer that across platforms like Steepster so anyone could receive those samples – and I wouldn’t expect non-bloggers to not numerically rate those teas. Anything else I’m receiving for free to review I make sure the company knows they’re getting an honest review; which means that if I dislike something I’m going to say so, not sidestep my criticisms because I got the tea for free. That means I’ve got just as many negative reviews (and ratings) as positive ones on Steepster. It might even mean I have more, honestly.

Personally, I think that as long as you’re not rating your own teas (like Dexter said) it shouldn’t matter if you score them numerically or not; and if someone told me I couldn’t rate tea here on Steepster anymore I’d probably ask for some very solid arguments why before I considered listening – especially given that everyone uses the rating system differently. Besides, there are many teas I review here on Steepster that I don’t on the blog; would I not be allowed to rate those either?

I also rate for personal reference and repurchasing help. I figure the very few times I rank something poorly when it is an ingredient issue, which has happened two or three times, I make sure to say so in the review, so others who are considering the tea can see that and decide accordingly. I feel like anyone taking the rating as gospel is going to be frustrated. I personally love many teas rated very highly, and several that have pretty poor ratings.

I have never cared whether bloggers review or not – they are also consumers. I do think posting if a tea is provided or not would create transparency. I think not rating their own creations, if they blend tea, is enough for me.

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sren said

White Rabbit brings up a good point— for what purpose are ratings used? I see mine as a sort of personal barometer which measures my changing tastes rather than an empirical truth-finder. For that purpose my ratings are very useful to ME. The community ratings are also useful because I can see how many users a tea’s higher or lower rating is based on— lots is more meaningful than a few, but still a very limited tool. That’s why the reviews themselves are so fabulous— a great opportunity to get a glimpse into another taster’s head.

Those who approach tea initially focusing on numerical score, if they stick around, will figure out the impact of personal preference and subjectivity of ratings. I do avoid rating teas if the experience is based on something very personal to me (e.g. don’t like licorice, tea storage or prep issues). I don’t have a problem with anyone rating teas, bloggers or vendors, although I respect the rules of this much appreciated community.

As for criticism from other forums, haters gonna hate!

+1 haters gonna hate

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Just throwing this out there: The first tea blogger who logs their tea ratings by posting a weekly video of interpretive dances for each of the teas they drank that week will be my favorite blogger (at least up until someone can Vulcan mind meld their tea experiences with me)

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AllanK said

As long as the reader keeps in mind that people may have different tastes I see no reason not to give a numerical review. What is a 100% to me may be a 50% to someone else. The reader has to keep this in mind. Even specific notes in reviews are subjective. Many teas I have reviewed and not found a note someone else mentioned.

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I am loving reading all the different opinions and ideas, I find it so fascinating!

I think in a perfect world there would be sliding bars for different things like aroma, taste, appearance…and then they would be averaged together and that would be what the scores are based off of, and then there could be like a check box for brewing styles…but even them applying a number to things is hard! I find that a lot of my scores are somewhat similar, now granted most teas are going to be somewhat in the average so that makes sense…but still, I dislike the number system.

I am agonizing on removing the numbers, on the one hand it helps me find my favorites…but I keep this info elsewhere in my pile of notebooks, so it is not really necessary. And I do feel bad for those smaller businesses that do not get a ton of exposure…bah! I will figure it out eventually.

The real question is, is it worth the effort of editing all those tasting notes if I do decide to remove them!

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Personally, words are more concrete in meaning than numbers.

I just added my first note without a numerical rating. I don’t feel it’s necessary for me to go back and take them from my past notes, though.

EDIT: Another huge reason for me to quit is the coloring system tied with the numbers. They connote a lot of emotion…

Yes! The coloring system, while it might be flashy and eyecatching, is one of the big turn offs for me as well.

I dislike this too. If you list a new tea and don’t rate it but still click that you recommend it, the color is red…

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