; Cwyn's Death By Tea: Why You Want Bloggers to Review Tea ;

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Why You Want Bloggers to Review Tea

All too often I read on social media that people think blogger reviews are unreliable sources of information for buying tea. People think bloggers lack in objectivity, even though tasting is an aesthetic, subjective activity. At best, tasters converge on opinion, yet even here opinions can still vary on tea, and so we can either start with the premise that bloggers are as reliable or as unreliable as anyone else. Aesthetic arguments aside, I can think of several reasons why you might want bloggers to try teas for you.

Bloggers spend their own money on the teas.

This is potentially the best reason. You get some information about an expensive tea for free. Before you go ahead and spend your own hard-earned money, why not let someone else spend money and give you a few adjectives that might match the qualities you are looking for? In many cases, bloggers buy very expensive teas that are serious buying decisions for you, and potentially an expensive mistake. Isn’t it better to get at least some information from anyone other than the vendor before diving in?

Even if the blogger gets the tea in PR, I can glean at least a flavor profile from the blog post even if I feel I must read past positives, and honestly I feel very few bloggers promote teas simply because they are free. We get too much tea, the free aspect wears thin. Most posts either are honest about the tea or the blogger won’t post at all on a tea they didn’t like. Very often vendors send teas without asking first, and too many unasked-for samples tends to remove any feeling that I must say something special. I’d rather not post at all if I don’t appreciate a tea. After all, no one is out to ruin a vendor.

Bloggers throw tea away so you don’t have to.

Making decisions to toss a tea is one of the most painful sides to the hobby, and few people I know can toss a tea no matter how bad. Even though a bad tea is probably not going to turn into a good tea someday, we hold out hope that the tea will improve enough to drink. Or maybe our tastes will change. The fact is, with the amount of tea many bloggers receive, unless we can drink it right away, we may need to decide to toss tea later that is either stale or less than cared for. We make the decisions to toss, so you don’t have to. Lest you think this is a small endeavor, may I mention that people have actually sent me tea they could not bear to throw out.

A secondary benefit here is the packaging also is tossed, and these include sample bags or other fancy packaging the teas arrive with. One person adding to the landfills rather than one hundred others over time should save you at least some small environmental impact. Let us do that rather than you.

Bloggers generally converge on the best teas.

Over the years, tea bloggers have completed blind tasting events where several choose to drink the same set of samples. Generally they converge on the same teas. I was surprised at the Yunnan Sourcing tasting we did in early 2018, how similar the opinions were. Not on every tea, of course, but I recognized my own experience when reading the notes of others.

The so-called “Blogger Effect” is bullcrap.

This is supposedly an effect where the vendor either raises prices or the stock depletes after a positive blog post goes up. First off, tying cause-and-effect with virtually no other variables is a statistically dodgy activity, but I see people doing it. I get blamed all the time for either stock depletion or the price increase. I’ve talked to several vendors about this. One vendor told me flat out he raises prices when the teas are close to sold out. The teas were already low stock by the time my post came out. In addition, most vendors do wholesale retail supply, that vendor may decide to send an order of the tea out to a tea shop or other online vendor, this is has no relationship whatsoever to the blog post.

Yet people watching the number of teas left see the stock go down and immediately assume the blog post is the reason. I’m sure bloggers sell a handful of teas, but the best teas have low stock to start out. Not unheard of either is a single buyer who purchases a large amount. (I still am stewing over a sold-out Blue Mark that a single buyer bought up before I could save the money. This purchase had nothing to do with blog posts either, the guy made his own decision.)

The truth is, no matter if a tea gets press or word of mouth, if you plan to wait until Black Friday every year, you risk teas selling out before you can get your hands on one.

Saving your Stomach

In my experience, testing teas for possible review is boring and rough on the system. Few teas are amazing enough to give me anything to talk about. A blogger sorts through literal garbage and puts their stomach and system at risk so you don’t need to.

In case none of the above is convincing enough to you to give a blogger the benefit of the doubt as to whether blog information is useful, I’m on a low buy this year. Or maybe a no-buy, except I cannot convince myself in all honesty that I will buy nothing. I have been buying puerh for a decade now, if I make it a full year without buying anything, I will be amazed. I bought less last year, but maybe I will pick up some samples. I cannot 100% say I won’t buy anything, because I’m an addict. Unless I can find another addiction.


  1. Cwyn N,
    I owe a great debt to the bloggers of today and yesterday. One of the inescapable consequences of collecting anything is the tuition that you will pay for bad choices due to inexperience or just lack of easy access and taking a chance blind. Bloggers like Marshaln, Hobbes, Tea Goober, Mattcha, Etc., helped me to identify teas with merit, along with a host of other things to know and consider in my hobby. This has continued through more recent bloggers like yourself, TeaDB, new Mattcha. Once I knew what a bloggers “taste” in tea was, I could identify a potential tea for me to sample. I think it has saved me $$$ over the years and added dramatically to my enjoyment. I extend my thanks to you and all of the bloggers who have contributed their time and “stomachs” over the years.


    1. Wonderful, thanks so much for reading and for the kind words. 😘