Friday, 8 June 2012

trashing the tea competition

left a withered, rotten taste in my mouth
Was in the midst of my whirlwind tour through Texas, when I sat down to write a blogpost about a certain tea that I'd picked up during my travels. I'd never heard of this tea before, so I did a quick internet search to see if there were any curious stories about the tea plantation or the tea growing region. Instead I found a tea forum that ridiculed this specific tea and anyone who might have ever enjoyed it.

The ugliness of the language in this tea forum so appalled me that the little time since then that I've had thinking about tea blogging was spent wondering how I was going to handle this.

First of all, I hate to admit it, but my first response was to question my taste. Maybe me being this candid about my self-consciousness will be seen as a weakness by some, but so be it. Immediately, I thought, 'Wait, this tea tastes like crap and I liked this tea. Ergo, my taste is crap.'

Luckily, I have enough confidence in both my taste in tea and my knowledge of decent tea that I didn't  entertain that prospect for very long. This tea blogging lark isn't a contest to see who can be snobbiest about this delicious, mostly brown liquid. Well, it certainly isn't for me.

However, the whole experience with this site was off putting. And oddly a bit of a culture shock. See, I've been in Germany long enough that negative comparative selling now rubs me the wrong way. When my German friends visit the United States, they can't believe that it's acceptable to promote your product by trashing the competition.

From what I understand, it's even illegal here to do that. But even if it weren't, it's considered bad form. I've asked quite a few people I know, and they insist that they'd avoid something that was marketed in such an agressive manner.

Let me be clear: writing something negative about a tea on a tea forum is not the same thing as a company trashing its competitor. Sometimes you don't like a tea, and you say it directly. That's something I completely understand and support. Tea reviews lose any meaning if they're all glowing and positive.

But if your tea company has a tea forum where other companies' tea is shamelessly trashed, I begin to wonder about your class (or lack thereof). Is that really how you want to play this game? Good luck to you on that one.


  1. Unfortunately negativity and cynical criticism is a norm on many Internet forums here in the states. Many people don't seem to consider their tone on the web.

  2. I know exactly what you mean Brian.