News, Updates & Announcements

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Sep 18th, 2010

RateTea.net Celebrates First Anniversary

RateTea.net celebrates its first anniversary today! We were launched exactly one year ago today, on September 18th, 2009. Since then we have grown considerably, both in features and in extent. We now have a total of 711 reviews from 143 reviewers, and our database of teas and brands of teas continues to grow.

In our past newsletters we highlighted new interactive features, but many of the biggest improvements over the past year have been to the written content of the site and may have gone unnoticed by most users. We'd like to draw attention to some of them in this newsletter.

Did you know?

• Anxi County, in Fujian province of China is most famous for Tie Guan Yin, or Iron Goddess of Mercy, a type of oolong tea. But there are many other Anxi oolongs; together these oolongs are called se chung oolongs.

Darjeeling black tea is broken into the different flushes, first flush, second flush, autumnal flush, etc., based on when it is harvested.

Chamomile, a popular herbal tea, has a number of medicinal uses and health benefits; there is even some evidence it may be useful for treating diabetes.

These are only a few examples of the new material we have added since our launch! If you have not explored our site in a number of months, you may be surprised by what you find!

New Material & Articles:

One of the goals and purposes of RateTea.net is to provide accurate, impartial information and to help tea enthusiasts learn more about where their tea comes from.

Collage of Four Green Oolongs
Huang Jin Gui is among
the new styles added.
We have added a considerable level of detail to the pages on styles and varieties of tea. We now classify teas in 150 different styles. We have also added Chinese and Japanese characters to most Chinese and Japanese teas, respectively. In a few cases, we have added Thai and Korean names as well. These other languages will allow people to more easily locate and research the more esoteric teas online.

Map of Fujian Province's Location in China
We have added maps
for Chinese provinces.
We have also added detail for regions: we have started to identify the sources of some teas down to the level of individual counties in China, and to prefectures (like states) in Japan; there are now a total of 90 regions and sub-regions listed. We've included some climate information on many of the regions, and are beginning to add discussion of how various regions are affected by climate change and other environmental issues.

The articles section of the website, which we did not have when we launched, now has 19 articles on tea-related topics. Our page on caffeine in tea sets out to dispel some widely-circulating myths about how much caffeine is in various types of tea. We continue to expand our offerings pertaining to sustainability, and we now have both a guide on how to brew tea as well as a page on making multiple infusions from the same set of tea leaves (which includes gong fu brewing).

Let us know what you want:

Are there topics that you would like to see us devote more energy to covering? Do you have something valuable to contribute, such as a new perspective, a new source, a correction, or a new piece of information that could enrich one of our articles? Please contact us so we can continue to improve the informational aspects of the site!

Sep 2nd, 2010

Review Pages & RSS Feeds

Screenshot of Review Page

Review Pages:

We have restructured our site so that each review now has its own individual page (view a random review page). The new page highlights the reviewer, including how long they have been a member and how many teas they have reviewed, and also shows the brand, style, and region of the tea being reviewed. The reviews are still listed on the page for each tea.

The URL's for these pages, just like the pages for each tea, will remain valid as a permalink. This makes it easy for you to share your reviews or link to them from other websites.

RSS Feeds:

We also added RSS Feeds. These feeds allow people to be notified of newly added tea reviews. RSS Feeds are noted by the orange rss icon icon. We have three types of feeds:

How to Subscribe to Feeds:

There are many different tools available to facilitate subscribing to feeds. Google reader, bloglines, and My Yahoo are a few online services that can be used to subscribe to rss feeds; various applications on your local computer are available to read feeds as well. The web browser Mozilla Firefox can subscribe to feeds directly using its live bookmarks feature. People who wish to subscribe to feeds by email may check out the feed my inbox service.

May 14th, 2010

User Comparisons and Top Rated Teas

Screenshot of Compare Users Feature
Screenshot of the new user comparison feature

Comparing users:

Now, when you are logged on, you can compare your taste in tea to that of other users. For any users with whom your ratings overlap for at least five teas, RateTea.net will calculate a similarity percentage. The calculation takes into account the fact that some users tend to rate more highly than others, and will give a more accurate representation of the degree to which your preferences really are similar to this user, even if you rate teas on a different scale.

Also, when logged on, the bottom of your profile will now show a list of users with whom there are enough ratings to compare your tastes. The more teas you review, the more likely you will be to benefit from this feature. If you're in a hurry to check out this new feature, you can check through recent reviews or browse the site to locate teas that have been reviewed by other users that you have recently tried or would be able to easily try.

Top rated teas:

There is great demand for using rating websites to locate the "best" products. While this concept is questionable in the world of tea (tastes are inherently subjective and one person's favorite might not even be enjoyable to another), it can still be interesting to see which teas are getting the highest ratings or the most ratings. Because RateTea.net is so young, we don't currently have enough overlapping ratings to say with much confidence which teas are considered best among our users, but we're quickly getting there.

We now have a page on highest rated teas; while it is doubtful that this page (or any page on any website) could ever capture the (preposterous) notion of the "best teas", it will give progressively more meaningful rankings as the ratings roll in. Also of interest, we list the most often rated teas...which will tend to list more mainstream teas, since these will be the teas that the largest number of users have tried. As much as these pages may be interesting to some people, we strongly recommend that you not spend too much time viewing them or thinking about them.

The mission of RateTea.net is to encourage each person to develop their own taste, not to simply seek out teas that the masses have decided are most popular! See what people like, but form your own opinions.