Should Tea Companies rate their own Teas?

Hi everyone,

Recently, I changed the rating on one of the teas I tried from 60-70 to 20. The reason I did this is because I saw a number of ratings, in particular a rating from the tea store themselves, that skewed the ratings and didn’t give an honest assessment of the consensus of real customers and what they thought of the teas. I changed my rating to a 20 to balance the 100 that the store gave.
The tea in question in Choco*Late by American Tea Room. We aren’t here to discuss the merits of this tea, but whether American Tea Room should rate their own teas. Here is the discussion up to this point:

20 Shinobicha drank Choco*Late by American Tea Room

American Tea Room about 3 hours ago
a 20? How can you rate a tea as enjoyable yet give it a 20? This is our most popular tea. Sorry it didn’t do it for you – However this is not fake. Chocolate is made from the cacao bean and this is where the flavor comes from.
If you want the calories drink Hot Chocolate — if you want a healthy alternative this is the tea for you

Shinobicha 1 hour ago
Actually, my real rating is about 65-70. However, there are perhaps 4 dubious ratings on this tea. I don’t know for sure, but I gave it a 20 to balance them out.
“latelover” is a Steepster user who has only rated this tea, a 100, about 5 times.
“Fit2aTee” is a user who has only rated this tea and Ruby Black (giving both nearly 100)
“HollywoodTea” has only rated your teas, and given them all 90 – 100, and the notes seem more salesy and excited than informative
And finally you yourselves have rated your own tea a 100. Now, even if all those other users are legit, it isn’t a very good idea to rate your own teas 100, because there is a financial incentive for you to do so. There are ways to get the word out about your teas without giving them a numerical rating.

One reason for Steepster, in my own understanding, and anyone can correct me here, is to help people read unbiased reviews about teas and find out if it’s something they want to check out for themselves. It’s definitely also a way for tea store owners to connect with their customers and help them find out more about the teas they have on offer. Here’s a question for you – why do you numerically rate your own teas? Do you think it is helpful for Steepster users to put a numerical rating on them?

Please don’t feel like this is an attack, but an honest question.

American Tea Room 5 minutes ago
I rate my teas because I believe in them. I did not know that you were the Steepster police — and that is was your job to make sure all reviews are legit and meet your criteria. I have no idea who the other tea raters are out there — but Choco*Late is by far our most popular tea. The simple fact that you feel you need to balance this site means your ratings are not worth very much due to your bias.

We do a lot of promotion in Beverly Hills and give out many samples at charity functions so it is very possible that some people want to share their love of our teas and have not tried any other tea on this site.

Of course we want our teas to have high ratings and we want people to know about our teas. We do this openly and not covertly. Actually on the unbiased our company is rated #1 and by a huge margin over EVERY other tea company in the world — and we do not vote on that. I think your tactics are appalling. You may think this site is for one thing and I may think it is a way to highlight our teas (and YES sell more of them). How do you think people get tea — by harvesting and blending them yourself? Why is there an affiliate program and advertising on this site if the purpose is not to encourage people to buy certain products? You can share you opinions about different teas but the only way to obtain them is to buy them.

Finally — and don’t feel like this is an attack but how does anyone know you are not a tea shop owner yourself and just rating the best teas lower so your teas will look better. Why would I think anything that we sell in our store is less than the best? If the proprietor of this site wanted to have no entrepreneurs on this site they should specifically state that. It is abhorrent that you would take upon yourself to police the ratings on this site based on your own rationale.

49 Replies

No. When I first joined this site, I did rate my own teas, but sometime afterward, decided to remove the numerical rating from each of my own teas, because I realize that I am biased… I can’t help but be biased. Even though I’m now closed, each and every tea blend I created holds a near and dear place in my heart because they were my creations. Some of my blends (like my Masterpiece Chai, for example) I spent over a year to perfect the recipe. So, it is very difficult for me to be objective. It’s kind of like a parent… in the parent’s eyes the child is beautiful… regardless of what the world sees.

I don’t think it is abhorrent that Shinobicha would choose to rate a tea whatever they feel the tea deserves. What I think is abhorrent is when a company would come here and question a rating like this. It strengthens my own resolve to not support such a company with my business.

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I would have no problems with a 60 or 70 rating (or even less). Shinobicha chose to lower her rating by 40 – 50 points in order to offset other ratings that Shinobicha thought were boosting our position (despite the fact there 24 ratings — a large number for Steepster). I question the tactics of rating a tea 20 when in fact the rater states it deserves a higher rating —not the actual rating. If you read my comment I wrote “It is abhorrent that you would take it upon yourself to police this site.”

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But that’s Shinobicha’s choice to rate it any way that they choose. We (as individuals on Steepster) should not have to justify those choices to you or any other tea vendor.

If Shinobicha chooses to lower their rating of your tea because that is what they deem fair, that is their choice to make. Just like it’s your choice to come here, question it, and reveal to us (your potential customers) just how you feel about it.

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You are correct about that. I think you might have missed my point. Shinobicha did not give the rating she thought the tea should get…she chose to rate it lower (which would have been fine if she thought the tea was horrible) meaning Shinobicha was doing exactly what Shinobicha accused others of doing. Two wrongs do not make a good review!

Cofftea said

Even if I may agree w/ Shinobicha (see my post below)- I also definitely agree with you.

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What is morally wrong with me rating any tea any number?

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@American Tea Room – I did not miss your point, I do understand where you are coming from.

That being said, what I don’t understand is your need to question it. It is your choice and your right to do so, just as I said previously.

Everyone on here has a different method for choosing their numeric ratings (including some that have chosen to not offer numeric ratings at all). Some might base it on the tea itself, some might choose to base it on other things – up to and including the way the company chooses to treat their customers.

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End of my discussion about this.

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Dear Steepsterites:

While ATR is finished with the discussion, I feel like there is an important question left unanswered. I only ask this not because I think we should get a consensus —

-Should Tea Companies numerically rate their own teas?

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Cofftea said

As long as they don’t give all their teas a 100, I really couldn’t care less. I’ve seen companies rate their teas in the 80s and I think that’s an honest review… after all what person/company in their right minds would sell a tea they think is crap. And since every person’s tastes in tea is different, the only way they can guage that is themselves. I do think; however, they should have different people from the company rate teas. (Unless, of course, like liberTEAS, it’s a one person company) I, too, have given low scores to teas I quite enjoy… but that is because I base my numerical rating completely on accuracy. A tea could completely miss the mark on the intented flavor profile, but still come out amazing. I find your actions completely counter productive and just as damaging. I’d much rather a person concerned w/ ratings report them than post a false rating that reflects neither the accuracy or personal preferance of the tea. I think this is a form of sabatoge even if the intentions may be well meaning. I will now question the over all rating of every single tea that you rate because I wonder how much damage you’ve done to it and will not be following you any longer which is quite the shame because I found your contributions to steepster very interesting and beneficial til now.

Jason select said

While I wouldn’t go to the extreme you describe…I think your idea is exactly right. Everyone should rate the teas as honestly as they can according to their tastes, not other factors. If there is suspicion of foul play, please let me know ([email protected]). We have access to private information that helps us better determine what the situation is and how to correct it.

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In that case, I will change my rating back to where I think it should be based on how I felt about this tea.

As you said, Cofftea, you know my intentions are for the good of the community. I have no financial or other gain from this. I’m simply hoping for fairness and unbiased reviews.

I think perhaps Jason and the admins should also look into this and help determine whether a company should numerically rate their own teas.

Jason select said

You can see my response on the next page:

This is something we have looked into and have many ideas on how it could be handled. Hopefully in the not-too-distant-future we’ll be able to implement some of our thoughts.

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