The Ethics of Tea Reviews

Just as there is value in tea reviews, I would like to present my take on the ethics that should guide them.

Ethics is basically a sense of right and wrong. Some things are right to do when reviewing teas, and some are wrong.

Examples:

  • Right — Give a tea sample a fair shake by being as objective as possible in the review.
  • Wrong — Use the review as a weapon to get back at the tea vendor (or tearoom owner) for some disagreement between you.

My personal ethics when reviewing a tea:

  • Acknowledge my own prejudices and preconceptions regarding the tea and do my best to set them aside.
  • If I feel that I cannot set them aside, let the tea vendor know that I will not be reviewing the tea (or rooibos, guayusa, etc.).
  • Better yet, let the tea vendor know up front that certain of their products are not in line with my tastes and would, therefore, not be items I could give a reasonable review.
  • Approach the review in a serious and organized manner, including learning a bit about the tea (if it’s one I haven’t tried before) before trying it.
  • Conduct the review myself (ably assisted by hubby and Little Yellow Teapot, of course).
  • If by any chance I have an altercation with the tea vendor, let my emotions cool before trying the tea so that I can remain objective in my evaluation.

Some of the dilemmas I have dealt with so far:

  • Vendors have sent me something containing rooibos after I posted the proviso on Little Yellow Teapot Tea Reviews that we would only be reviewing true teas.
  • Some samples of finer teas have arrived in bagged vs. loose form. Sometimes this was my fault for not being specific, and sometimes it was the tea vendor’s. Solution: cut open the bag and try steeping the tea loose. Tea vendors have generally reacted positively to this, especially since they knew I wasn’t being mean or spiteful.
  • A tea vendor and I disagreed on something I had posted. What was disturbing was how they approached me about it. Things got a bit heated on both sides. At the time, I still had several samples from them to review. My ethics required me to cool off before reviewing those samples so that I could stay objective. So I did. And the results so far have been quite favorable.

I’ve gotten into the habit of giving the tea vendor a list of teas off their site that I’d be interested in trying as a way of avoiding receiving something that I would not like to try. These samples cost the company sending them, so I have a real struggle deciding to pass on any of them. For example, a sample of guayusa was sent, and I had to pass on it. Now, I am close to passing on a couple of others that were sent but that weren’t on my list of suggestions (because they contain things I don’t want to imbibe or the vendor will not say what is in them).

Just passing this along for whatever it’s worth.
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