Odd I’ve never brought this up before; there are lots of places to talk about and learn about tea online. Writing a blog post about reaching a million answer views on Quora reminded me of the subject, so I’ll start there, and list others.
Quora: you can ask or answer questions about tea on Quora, more or less an expanded version of Yahoo Answers. Comments work out like discussion threads but it’s not the same. There is a personal messaging function, just no forum or thread-style discussion area. I started writing about tea, and ventured into travel and culture related issues after.
Tea Chat (forums): unfortunately this site has run its course, related to online forums having a natural lifecycle, but this had been the main dedicated tea forum. Tea Forum is a more recent spin-off but it’s not that much more active. Steepster is really a tea review site, also with a currently inactive discussion section. There’s only so much tea discussion going on to support dedicated forums, and the next entry sucks a lot of the air out of the room.
Facebook groups: this is where people talk about tea online most now. I co-founded one active group, International Tea Talk, which is focused on tea themes in different countries, but others have their own sub-themes:
Pu’er Tea Club: about pu’er, not as snobby as it might have worked out, but still what you might expect.
Gong Fu Cha: mostly US experienced tea drinkers, who don’t favor Western style brewing.
Tea Drinkers: my favorite beginner oriented group.
Local / city FB groups: I’m in versions related to Thailand, NYC, LA, Colorado, and more recently Melbourne. Groups like these are ideal places to ask for local shop recommendations.
Reddit r/tea: this subforum is unusual, in terms of format and for people not consolidating into a common-perspective group, but it works for a lower experience level general discussion group. Just as Facebook links personal profile details and interest groups Reddit works to make discussion across a broad range of interest areas available in one place, typically more anonymously. They just don’t integrate.
Instagram: not a good place for discussion, just about pictures and limited video, but it’s so active for tea themes that I’ll mention it anyway. I saw a really cool interview about tea culture in Russia by a Russian tea lovers page there but as far as I know those live “story” videos aren’t accessible later. They do also upload some videos to Youtube. Youtube is a media channel but not set up for social networking in that other sense, related to interaction. TeaDB is a nice blog there, and Tea Fix hasn’t got far as a start on a podcast yet but they’re working on it.
Twitter: I don’t like Twitter, the format or the vibe (culture, as much as a grouping that broad has one). It could work a lot better than it seems to for sharing information, but it can work out for sharing news links or as a self-promotion feed. Some “tea people” seem to use it for that, and to share other updates.
Google +: that social networking site is nearly as dead as Julius Caesar, but it had such potential. Google tends to really develop what it knows is going to work, like Maps, or Android, and throws the rest at the wall to see what sticks. It would be possible to write an entire post about obsolete or marginal tea-themed social networking options but I’ll stop at G+. LinkedIn isn’t marginal or obsolete but this would be a good place to add mention of it; tea industry professionals add profiles there, and some groups there relate to tea, as with lots of other subjects.
To be concluded in Online Social Networking Related to Tea – Part 2
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Thanks for the interesting discussion about tea and social media. Here at T Ching, we get many people from around the world stopping by but not as much “discussion” as I had imagined when I started the blog in 2006. I look forward to reading your thoughts tomorrow. My goal is to find a way to engage more of the T Ching community with lively comments.
I used to get bombarded in my email asking for answers to tea questions on Quora until I finally had to put a stop to it. The questions were so silly for the most part. When I stopped it was when I linked part of the answer to a YouTube video I had just made on that subject which gave the answer in more detail. I was given a warning by Quora to not do that again. So I won’t. Ever. That’s just silly. Supposedly it’s advertising?? Some of the other forums, the ones who ‘review’ tea, I find just want free samples of tea. Michelle, this site and others like Jen Piccotti’s are wonderful, as is John’s. But many are really not so much. Social media is just so overwhelming with so many options that, unless you have big ad dollars, it seems like most of it isn’t accomplishing too much. …again, present company and a few others excepted. But maybe I’m just in a void in my thinking?? Other’s experiences
Quora only lets people post answers with an developed answer in the content, and have deleted one of my posts before that seemed to just cite a link instead, to them. I suspect vendors citing their own content gets moderated differently than blog citations too, I just don’t know that. As a FB group admin I can relate to problems with setting any rules related to what self-promotion isn’t allowed. No matter what you set up grey areas occur, and the most intuitive solution is to set restrictive limits. That’s not the solution we use in that group since we try to set up a general level in the grey area as a cut-off, which makes the admin work difficult and at times inconsistent.
Tea discussion does end up hit and miss all over. I thought my blog would tie back to that theme a lot more than ever happened. Sometimes people will discuss the subject a little in a FB group link post but very infrequently in blog page comments. The next section of this post talks more about a main problem that comes up, related to groups either pulling towards beginner level focus or advanced themes, without as much going on in the middle, helpful discussion of tea among people who are introduced but not experts.