Something seems fishy with Apollo Tea

I just found out a tea company named Apollo Tea and I was checking out their popular teas and they all seemed to have similar ratings, around 75. So I was looking at what people were saying about these teas and I discovered that all(or most) of the accounts without profile pics have ONLY positive ratings(75) for Apollo Teas. Some of the accounts also seem to be bringing down competitors’ teas like Adagio, comparing it to Apollo teas.
I think this company should really be ashamed of what they did and Steepster should really take some action against this kind of behavior.

21 Replies
denisend said

A few months ago, Steepster didn’t have the 0-100 sliding scale for ratings, it was just thumbs up or thumbs down (I believe). When the numerical rating was created, the thumbs up were converted to 75s and the downs to 25s. This could account for the large number of 75s that you see (I looked through and found a large number of ratings that were several months old).

I’d suggest bringing this up directly with the Steepster overlords and having them look into it.

Angrboda said

Also a fair few of both red and yellow ratings.
But I agree, it likely has something to do with the switch-over to a different rating system.

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It’s not really the 75s that concerned me, but the whole bunch of accounts with “fake-looking” names that have only rated Apollo teas positively that caught my eye. Look at “Dorian Grey” for example: hottie, dictionary, ussr and other not-so-creative looking names all rated this tea positively each with 1 likes. I wonder why this went unnoticed until now.

Angrboda said

Is it just because they don’t have a picture? Lots of active people don’t have a picture. That’s hardly enough to be suspected of fakeness, I think.
Maybe they just liked it?

If you look more carefully, all the accounts without pictures have rated ONLY Apollo teas. Don’t you think it’s more than a coincidence that they don’t have profile pics and have only come here to rate Apollo Teas?

Angrboda said

Look, not having a profile pic does not equal fake. AGAIN lots of active people on Steepster don’t have a picture uploaded.

Also, not everybody shops around much. Some people find one or two places, or even one or two teas that they like and stick with that.

I’ve had a lot of stuff from A C Perch’s, all of which I have rated positively. Because I genuinely like the selection that they have, not because I’m trying to promote that particular company.

By all means take it up with the Steepster Overlords if you’re concerned so either something can be done or the suspicion put to rest. I personally am just not really that concerned.

I don’t think you see why I’m emphasizing the fact that they don’t have profile pics. It would be much easier for the tea company to make different accounts with different names and not have to find different profile pics for each of them so as to not make them look like they were all created by the same person. If you still seem to disagree with me saying that they are fake, fine. I know for sure that I’m staying the heck away from this company.

Angrboda said


It’s also quite easy to just give them a bunch of random pictures.

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Samantha said

I see what you’re saying, and shame on them if they did do that…..but some companies just have weird ways of getting themselves out there. Californiateahouse rates their own teas. As long as the tea tastes good, that’s all that matters to me.

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Shanti said

Angrboda’s right that they might not be evil, but I would bring it up to the Steepster overlords anyway (Jason and crew). They will be able to tell if it really seems spammy or not. The only way we can keep evil companies off of Steepster is reporting suspected fake accounts, and so I don’t want to discourage anyone from doing so. Thanks zeit.

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Shanti said

Okay, I just went and checked the Apollo page, and it does seem like a lot of the people reviewing their teas have like 15 reviews ALL for different Apollo teas and no other companies. Maybe Jason can do an IP check and see if the IPs are overlapping?

Zeit, could you compile a list of usernames of suspicious accounts and email Jason?

I’ll try to do that tomorrow as soon as I get done with a test I have. Thanks for looking into this with me.

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I admit I haven’t been on the site for a few months, and when I did join the site was on the old ‘thumbs up/down’ system. I ended up reviewing two of our teas not really knowing the implications, but I see your point Zeitfliesst.

My question is, what if I send out a plug for Steepster in our newsletter or FB group asking anyone that has tasted our teas to review them? Wouldn’t that look suspicious on here? My thought is that most people would rate our teas positive (at least I would hope so!) and likely would not be there for any other reason than to rate us. That’s my thought, I would hope they would contribute more to the site but I’m guessing most ppl would just end up rating and leaving.

I would be interested to hear what Apollo Tea has to say about all this though

Cofftea said

Dan, asking other people to rate your teas isn’t suspicious. I’d think they’d give their honest opinion because you deserve to know what people think of your teas no matter where the info is posted. I personally don’t say I like something when I don’t just to make someone happy. While a person from a tea company rating their own teas is questionable anyway, I think the old system was much more baised- a thumbs up could mean a 70 or a 100 so it’s impossible to tell if the person thinks the tea is very good or ABSOLUTELY AMAZING!

Hi Cofftea,
I would hope people would give their honest opinion – I mean that’s how we can learn what people like and don’t like through honest critiques of what we offer. I wasn’t sure how other people on here would perceive a bunch of folks rating just one tea company’s teas and the question that Zeitflisst raised could probably be applied to any company where people are just here to rate one type of tea. Although the bashing of competitors is def suspicious IMO.

Yeah the new rating system is way better…its a bonus for those of us that would like a better insight too on what is a good tea and what is mind blasting :)

Cofftea said

Dan, while they may hear about steepster from you I would hope they wouldn’t rate just your teas. I hope they’d review all teas they drink and become genuine active members of the Steepster community.

I would hope so too Cofftea. That’s exactly how you grow any community!

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I’m definitely going to have to take Zeit’s side on this one – seems like a sham.
Looking in to it, it seems all the reviews take place either 6 to 4 months ago, and all within that space.
Plus, if you pay attention to what’s being said, the statements tend to follow a pattern of, “Compliment” then “Describe/ramble”. Over and Over. Usually in 1-4 sentences. Usually in 2. On teas with a lot of reviews, (Jasmine Dragon Tears, for instance) they hardly bothered giving more than one sentence on most reviews.
Beyond that, all the “users” seem to talk with a similar vernacular – The same voice over and over (a hint of intellectualism, but generic), and an emphasis on tea jargon.

I understand that many of you have an instinctive urge to trust human nature, but… in this case, I think that’s a bit naive. After spending enough time on the internet, you learn to smell out a sham when it’s in front of your nose. Take an honest look at Apollo Tea’s reviews before giving them the benefit of the doubt.

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Jason select said

Hi everyone,

This is actually an issue we addressed specifically with the people at Apollo Tea about 5 months or so ago. We noticed the suspicious tasting notes and ratings, many from the same IP address, and brought them to the attention of their owner. The owner explained their situation and it seemed reasonable that given their situation, these ratings and reviews from the same IP address could be legitimate. So, we have no conclusive evidence to suggest that they are fake accounts or that they are trying to game the system.

We appreciate you bringing this topic up and trying to maintain the value and integrity of our community. You may choose to interpret the tasting note situation however you please, just know that we have no specific evidence to believe they are dishonest. If you come across any other users/content you find suspicious or have any other questions, feel free to contact me directly to bring them to our attention ([email protected]). Thanks :)

Ricky said

Apollo Tea’s staff were rating teas for their company? Err, that’s my guess?

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While there is supposedly no way we can be certain whether this was just an excusable and legitimate incident, or if it was truly a sleezy scheme… I think this has just worked out as bad publicity.
It doesn’t look innocent to me in any way, and I’m honestly turned off from ever buying tea from this company.

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