MarshalN wrote:If a vendor sends in a tea that a number of people consider subpar, how exactly do you propose they should criticize it in a "tactful" manner, Chip?
What if that person then goes out and buys another sample of the same tea, and then proceed to trash it?
The point is, if the vendor, knowing what this is, sends in a tea that is nevertheless inferior, then why are people not allowed to criticize it for its awfulness?
I do agree that if you compare A with B, where B costs way more (and is better) then it's not really fair. Although, that does put the tea in perspective, and anyone with half a brain should be able to figure that out. Maybe rules about "if you compare OTTI teas with others, please list the unit price for the other tea you're comparing again" will be fair. I fail to see how avoiding negative criticism is helpful in any way, shape, or form.
Alternatively, just have people pay a bit more money and buy the samples instead of having them being near free. Some OTTIs in the past have done that anyway.
I've been looking over the OTTI and NOTTI threads and, depending on the range I'd gladly pay the extra to participate in an OTTI.
That said, I think the relationships the OTTIs build with vendors, when treated with tact and civility, would be just as valuable as the experience of trying the tea.
"Constructive criticism" does not mean "no criticism". It means presenting the points you did like with the points you didn't in a way that illustrates its overall value, as well as building the idea that your review is meant to inform ways to improve what you're reviewing. With tea, it is true that it is a very finished product, they can't exactly go back and change it. This doesn't mean that, as tea growers/processors, they can't apply critiques to small changes in how they handle the next crop. Not to mention that factors that you disliked may be factors someone reading would enjoy-- such as the smokiness of a Lapsang or the more vegetal taste of a Japanese green. If you illustrate the taste, and THEN your feelings about it, it is much more civil while providing information to those it would interest.
Basically: Anything drinkable is bound to have positive points. Share the positive along with the negative, and be polite.
I think I can do that; from what I've read browsing the site, the majority of users probably could, too.