Tyler said

Utterly Annoying Tasting Notes!

It’s quite annoying when people write tasting notes and very vaguely speak of the tea, if you would even say they speak of it at all! I’m mostly referring to people who say things like, “I had a cup of this today” or “a very good tea” or “i love this tea”.
It’s annoying and doesn’t benefit anyone. Just because you had “a cup of this today” doesn’t at all tell anyone why you gave it a high rating. Throw in some adjectives, if you’re bold then some adverbs.
I’m not at all against steepster users posting a sentence or two on a tasting as long as you describe and or tell of your experience of the tea. It truly might be “a very good tea” but please tell us why! If you had a cup please expand. It doesn’t edify anyone to know you drank a tea. Please make the info useful and keep Steepster beneficial.

77 Replies

The only time I ever do a one- liner is if I have already given that specific tea a lengthy review prior. But I do see what you are saying… if it’s a lesser known tea or company or newly added one. Just a heads up on mine tho – if you see anything like that from me or something that says BACK LOGGING – that means I have already reviewed it prior to that log. :)

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Carolyn said

In fact, my one-liners benefit me, which is my sole reason for doing my tasting notes. My more extensive tasting notes are also written entirely for my benefit. If you don’t like my tasting notes, or anyone else’s, you don’t have to read them. You are not entitled to decide that all tasting notes must be written in a way that benefits or entertains you. Please be sensible enough to realize that people are different and use Steepster in ways that work for them.

denisend said

Yep – if you don’t like the way someone writes, don’t read that person! Thank you Carolyn!

This is also true!

It certainly depends on the user. Some use it as purely logging, no description, ever. Others use it just for their notes, and others use it for feedback. To-each-their-own! :)

I absolutely hear what you are saying, Carolyn! I raise my cup to you, indeed! And you as well denisend! CHEERS!

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Cofftea said

Some steepster members don’t use their tasting logs to benefit others. It’s not always about other people. Just like some people don’t use their cupboard. If a person drinks a lot of a certain tea, lengthy notes every time could also get annoying.

LOL – Could you imagine if I did that 18 times a day!? EVERYONE here would HATE me!

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Tyler – have you read the discussion guidelines? Here are a few that you might want to review:

1) Keep topics related to tea.

2) Communication that is directly or implicitly offensive, meant to harass or attack another user, inappropriate, etc. is strictly prohibited (You know what we mean! Review our Terms of Use if you’re unsure) and may be grounds for removing your content and deactivating your account.

5) Respect the tastes of your fellow Steepster members. Every one has their own way of preparing and enjoying tea and that’s what makes this place interesting. Share your opinion, but don’t force it on others.

Basically, we’re all here to have fun and enjoy tea in all its glory. Don’t be a jerk and ruin everyone’s time. Drink tea and play nice!

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Grinnyguy said

Often I think that a good/ok/bad is enough. It’s great if people can give more info, but I know that I don’t have a good enough sense of taste (or knowledge of english perhaps – english is my first language), to describe the flavours I’m tasting. I also don’t get out the thermometer and stopwatch every time I drink tea because it’s a relaxation thing and I don’t want to structure it so much every time. My tasting notes reflect that and I’m sorry if you don’t like it, but you can choose who you follow – don’t follow people whose logs you don’t like, then they won’t even appear on your screen!

People I follow are people who I know, people who write interesting/useful logs, and people who drink the same types of tea (from tea sellers who are accessible to the UK). You don’t have to read every post that’s on here

Sorry if this sounds ranty, I’ve had a long week

Cofftea said

On the contrary, rather well stated. I’m following you now by the way lol:)

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On the contrary, Tyler may have a point. There is a tendency to minimize on the reviews or do more personal journaling about one’s day or week than to talk about tea. Though I do feel that personal journaling has a use here, as part of the reviews seems intrusive. I want to read about the tea and see if it is worthwhile pursuing – not about someone’s afternoon. (though the Overlords might think of implementing a feature allowing each member to keep a small blog or journal as part of their profile).

That said, Tony Gebely said something in his “State of the Tea Industry” post about tea reviews:
\As review blogs become stuffed with countless reviews, they will begin to lose meaning.\

I am in total agreement with this. There are so many tea review websites out there that it is hard to navigate them and learn about individual teas and vendors. You’ll notice that tea reviews are very rare on our website, in fact, we’ve only done 1 tea review in the 2 months we’ve been in business (despite having dozens of teas currently on the shelf – we are exploring and experimenting with unique ways to do reviews).

Steepster offers a very unique service to tea drinkers – though poor reviews dilute what that experience offers. In a sense, Steepster can be compared to those product reviews over at Amazon. Many people scour them before they buy a product and use them to influence their decisions. Steepster provides the same service, but the value of it is diminished when the community essentially /spams/ the reviews. (Being able to vote up/down on posts might help – too many down votes and they gray-out)

Keep in mind, this is only my opinion, the Steepster guys are doing a great job at development and providing new features. However, a micro-blog function may provide users an outlet for simple posts that otherwise lower the value of individual tea reviews.

Of course, this is only my opinion and others may feel differently, but this is an interesting topic and I’m looking forward to reading what others think.

Leafbox Tea

denisend said

I like the voting system, but the problem with how it is currently implemented is that when you view a tea, you only view one review per person. Some folks consistently write detailed reviews, and those should always be shown (IMO) without having to click through.

I looked around, and there is nothing on Steepster saying that we need to follow any sort of tea review standards. There is no template (and if there was, I would gladly follow it!). I don’t want to speak for the overlords, but I think they think we are grown up enough to be able to choose what we want to read, and skip what we don’t? This way everyone can enjoy Steepster?

I see Steepster as a fun place to share my thoughts about tea. I am a person who picks a tea depending on what kind of of day I’m having, and what mood I’m in, and what things I’m doing that day so I include that information in my review.

It’s not about what the Overlords think of us as users, it is more about all the things and ways they try to anticipate how we will all use their service. It is disappointing to see that a tea has 8 or 10 comments and a user may click through expecting to see a discussion on the merits or demerits of a particular tea only to discover that all 10 reviews/comments have no value at all.

I think this is the sort of thing that Tyler is addressing. The Overlords attempt to anticipate how people will use their service and then they try to program in features that give it value for as many people as possible. This is a very hard thing to do, people will give comments and reviews of poor value (After all, it is the Internetz!). Finding a way to improve the value is the goal. You’ll notice that Steepster is still in Beta, not a coincidence. These guys are pros and doing a great job – but it is a lot of hard work to create an open system like this has functions built in that help improve the value for users.


Carolyn said

Peter, you say, “Steepster offers a very unique service to tea drinkers – though poor reviews dilute what that experience offers.”

It seems to me that you have decided that Steepster’s primary value and service to tea drinkers is as a recommendation service for tea. In other words, ideally Steepster is (or should be) a passive experience for most users of Steepster who will read the reviews with a few good writers/reviewers creating the value that is consumed by the readers.

If Steepster becomes this kind of place, I would not be interested in using it. My interest in Steepster is in understanding my own reactions to tea and charting my own experiential journey with teas so that I can look back at what I’ve said about a tea and know whether or not to re-purchase it and whether a new tea might appeal to me based on whether it comes from a family of teas I’ve noted my enjoyment of in the past.

In other words, it functions for me like my running journal does. I note the surrounding circumstances of the run (beginning mood, weather, sickness, amount of sleep the previous night, clothing issues, etc.) how well the run went, and my ending mood. Then I can look back at the log to determine what conditions would provide the most enjoyable run in the future. Unlike my running journal, Steepster allows me to assign a rating to a tea and lets me sort based on those factors. So Steepster is superior to my running journal in that way.

I sometimes look through a tea’s logs to see what other people thought of it and I especially note their ratings. Sometimes I do this simply to get to know other tea people, but even if I couldn’t see other people’s logs Steepster would still have value to me as a personal tool. By contrast, if I couldn’t log in ways that are significant to me, Steepster would cease to have value to me.

If Steepster became some sort of writing competition to write the best tea logs it would lose value for me as a user because I would become outwardly focused on audience needs instead of my own needs. It would also rapidly pall as an experience. If my purpose in writing here becomes pleasing other people instead of myself, I would not enjoy it and I would leave.

“If Steepster becomes this kind of place, I would not be interested in using it. My interest in Steepster is in understanding my own reactions to tea and charting my own experiential journey with teas so that I can look back at what I’ve said about a tea and know whether or not to re-purchase it and whether a new tea might appeal to me based on whether it comes from a family of teas I’ve noted my enjoyment of in the past.”

This is a fascinating point that you make and certainly not one I considered. This is, of course, what Jason is talking about below when he mentions the flexibility that they want to keep built in to Steepster.

On the fast and ready, when myself or my partners are looking for teas to try, we come to Steepster and look for reviews. Being a database of teas, makes it extremely useful for that. However, this search has often been met with disappointment (which is, the topic of this thread).

One the other hand, your idea points to the depth and complexity of what Steepster presents to the community. One of the things Jason talks about below is for different reviews/ comments to “rise” for the needs of other users. I certainly enjoy your adventursome posts (but when I’m in a hurry to place an order, I know to skim through to your final paragraph!) and they add color to the readings that isn’t available elsewhere – in other words, continue.

I do appreciate the flexibility of the Steepster and it does bring something to the tea community that didn’t exist before – I am, however, looking for a way to get through to the things that are more relevant to me.

Carolyn said

Hi Peter,

I’m glad you mentioned my adventuresome post on 52 Teas’ Coconut Cream Pie tea. It is a perfect example of why context matters to me sometimes. When I logged that tea I thought that my future self would surely want to know which tea I chose after an extreme adventure since it must qualify as a nearly perfect tea. In fact, looking back at it and knowing that I was still in some sort of endorphin-protected state when I drank that tea makes me wonder whether the tea was actually all that good or whether any tea would have tasted good to me after that sort of adventure. So that is a tea log that I discount heavily when it comes to making a tea decision.

I understand the difficulty of using the database to make tea choices. But there is even more depth and complexity to the difficulty than that. First, Steepster’s database is not easily searched for tea details (for example, teas with peach notes or decaffeinated teas).

Second, while it is almost certain that a tea which garners praise from a lot of people is probably a pretty good tea, most teas do not have general appeal. So it really helps to know the taste of the people rating the individual tea you are looking at. So is that terrible rating for a puerh tea the result of someone who just doesn’t like puerhs or is it a puerh aficionado’s opinion? It helps to know. Is the Maple Bacon tea getting a bad review because someone hates bacon or because someone loves bacon and the bacon taste is off? Context is critical.

Third, tea is a far more subjective experience than buying a big screen tv is. There are dozens of factors that change the taste of a tea for an individual. What are the externals (steep time, temperature, water quality)? What about the internals? Everything from mood to time spent with the tea to a person’s brain chemistry or hormonal profile will change the taste of tea. For example, women’s taste perceptions change with their hormonal make-up. So a tea loved during pregnancy may seem dull at other times. Male tastes also change with their internal chemistry. Oxytocin amongst its other effects changes taste perceptions as well and oxytocin is released when men are with women they love. So presumably the same tea will taste slightly different if you drink it at work than it will when you drink it after a wonderful evening with your lover.

For these reasons, I think it is never going to be the case that tea reviews are reliable guides to tea. Instead, they form a kaleidescopic vision of possible experiences with an individual tea.

Nonetheless, I also read the tea logs to get ideas of what to buy.

Cofftea said

Good stuff, as always, Carolyn! I totally agree “most teas do not have general appeal”… take me for example- there are several teas most people dispise that I love, and other teas I just don’t get. I try my best to include things like “You’ll like this if you like…” type statements and other facts about what the tea is rather than or at least in addition to my own personal tastes/opinions.

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Cofftea said

While I love detailed reviews, I think saying that people are using steepster wrong and their usage is “annoying” is extremely rude.

Agreed, may not be the best way to communicate, a more constructive response would be to point it out in site feedback and brainstorm ideas to improve the reviews.


Cofftea said

Or just don’t read the stuff you don’t like.

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Jason admin said

To get a little of our perspective…

We purposefully designed Steepster to be more open and flexible in terms tasting notes for a couple reasons:
1) To accommodate a variety of tea drinkers
2) To allow community behaviors to help mold how people use the site (functionality should be driven by behavior, not the other way around)
3) To allow tasting notes to describe experiences with tea (we think a whole experience is more relevant to understanding someone’s thoughts than an anonymous review without context)

At the same time, we try to keep this flexibility within a context of providing valuable opinions about teas which can then be translated into useful recommendations.

With that said, just as different teas work for different people, different tasting notes work for different people as well. We’ve added things like ratings, favorites and commenting to help draw attention to popular tasting notes that will hopefully be relevant to others – and we’ve seen a lot of success with these features. But at the same time, tasting notes can receive attention for reasons other than their relevance to a specific tea.

If you are consistently reading tasting notes from a person that you find to not be relevant or helpful for you, we’d recommend you simply stop reading them or even stop following that person. If they don’t help you get what you want out of Steepster, no one wins.

However, we are also considering additional features that would surface tasting notes in a contextually relevant way. For example, if a note is mostly focused on being comedic but doesn’t mention many aspects of a tea, then that note would be noted for it’s comedic value and not it’s relevance to the tea. Conversely, if people found a tasting note that was very detailed and specific to a tea, that note would be recognized for its relevancy.

I hope this sheds some light on our thinking behind the site and helps people use Steepster in a way that’s beneficial for them. If you have any other questions or comments about this, feel free to shoot me an email ([email protected]).

1) To accommodate a variety of tea drinkers

I think this is EXTREMELY important. A VARIETY!

A variety of teas for a variety of people. No one is going to agree on everything…different strokes for different folks! I like to see the different reviews…what one might like and someone else might not. I like the different wordage that everyone uses and comparisons…the pros and cons, the interaction…I find that all positive…at least for what I am interested in…and I totally agree with this statement/goal/reason for site. All interests, all tea lovers welcome – no matter if you had your first cup today or if you have been drinking tea in the fields for 400 years! I LOVE them either way! Thanks again guys!

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IdentiTEA said

I can see what LeafBox Tea is saying when he compares the tea log of Steepster to that of reviews on Amazon – when you look up a particular tea on here, you can see everyone’s thoughts on it, as can you a product on Amazon.

With that said, one also has to take into account that Steepster is set up in a way to let the individual log a tea multiple times… which makes sense. I say that because some are trying to differentiate a tea review “blog” (outside of this website) and Steepster’s tea “log.” But, the base word in “blog” is “log”… a blog IS a log. Steepster’s tea log is, obviously, a log. Thus, a tea review blog and Steepster’s tea log are the exact same concept.

I say all of that to say this… because Steepster’s tea log and a blog are the same thing a person can’t say something like “on Blogger, you can say whatever you want… be it a formal review, or informal thoughts. But on Steepster it must be a review.” Or, I could just state the obvious and point out that there is no rule which states exactly how one must log their tea… as there is no rule in how you are supposed to blog (outside of this website) about tea. (The only difference is that, Steepster has rules about profanity and such)

On the other hand, Tyler, I do see your point. When a person says they loved a tea or hated a tea without giving reason or evidence, it is, in fact, annoying… both on Steepster and on individual tea blogs… but it’s not against the rules of Steepster (as of yet). That is why Steepster let’s you choose who you follow and whose logs you read… just like can choose whose tea review blogs your read.

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Tyler said

I’m sorry if I came off sounding rude. That was not at all my intention. I’m not even speaking of people I’m following (If you look at my profile you’ll see I’m not even following anyone as of now but hope to change that soon), but I’m speaking of teas that I search for.
What I was trying to get at and what I think Leafbox Tea did an amazing job saying was people, myself included, search for a particular tea desiring to know what people think of it. I look for merits and demerits of the tea for influence of what teas I would buy or consider buying. And a good amount of the teas I want to find more about I actually find very little about. And yes, just as Amazon or Newegg have user reviews that would influence a buyer, I also expect for that here.
I’m also not intending to say that anyone is using steepster incorrectly or attacking or harassing anyone. I was just venting my frustration which could have been done in a more tasteful manner. Forgive me if I offended anyone.

I did actually notice that you were not following anyone. I have found the more people you follow the more interesting Steepster is. My suggestion would be to just follow the people that are descriptive if that is something you are specifically looking for in/at Steepster. There are TONS of people that I follow but they don’t follow me and I am ok with that…no worries there! I am just interested in all sorts of different things here at Steepster. It’s all what you want from it and what you make it. :)

Tyler said

Thanks for the advice. I’ll start following people :)

Have fun! Feel free to follow me if you wish…

Jason admin said

TEB, you’re in our site, killing our databases (with your thousands of followers) :)

@ Jason – eeeek!? Is that a bad thing!? :) Should I ‘delete’ some of the people I follow!? I don’t want to cause problems for my beloved steepster! Let me know if that is the case…


Jillian said

Why do I feel the need to make a LOLCat icon about that for you Jason? ;D

Jason admin said

@TEB: no worries, Mike has you covered :) Use Steepster as you will!

@Jillian: I just might consider temporarily changing my avatar if said icon was made…

Thanks Mike & Jason!! :)

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