What do people want to read? Do they want an expert, a connoisseur who knows what is "best" in some more objective sense? I cannot offer this, at least, not yet. All I can offer is an honest description of what my own experience was.
People often feel intimidated by the idea of writing reviews:
When I tell people about RateTea, they are often interested, but a vast majority express a sense of intimidation about writing a review. The people who feel intimidated surprise me, as they include among their ranks people whom I consider to be outstanding writers (far better and more experienced than I am) and people who are outstanding cooks, and regular tea drinkers who prefer high-quality loose-leaf tea. Yet many of these people, including those who fall into all three categories, express the same sentiment:
"I just don't know what to write."
Another common remark I hear is:
"Teas all taste the same to me. They just taste like tea."
I do believe that most people actually know more about food, drink, and have greater potential for distinguishing and talking and writing about taste than they give themselves credit for. Recently I served Rishi Tea's Wuyi Oolong to a couple of my friends without . One of them remarked: "This tastes like oolong tea!" I found this encouraging -- it certainly establishes that my friend possesses some ability to identify teas by taste, including teas that she does not often drink.
People often don't give themselves enough credit--many Americans don't even know that oolong is a type of tea.
How can you establish more confidence in writing about tea?
A while back, I created a page writing about tea which offered a few concrete tips. But I think that it's not specific advice that most people need.
The best way to become more confident in writing about tea is to write more about tea.
If you don't know what to write, a good tip is to write down the first thing that pops into your head when you're drinking a tea. Remember, tastes and descriptions of aromas are inherently subjective. There is no right or wrong, as different people perceive taste differently, and people also have different preferences about what qualities they prefer, and different associations of what various aromas remind them of.
Sometimes you don't even need to say much. Ask yourself do you like the tea? Do you like it more or less than any other tea you've tried recently? Talking about how much or how little you like about a tea is one of the key aspects of a review. If you don't have much reaction to a tea at all, then say that! Many teas just aren't that interesting; often, I'll try a tea and I will find it a bit boring, so I write that. It's a simple reality of statistics that the majority of teas are going to be be rather close to average. While it's sometimes good to look for interesting things to say about an average tea, there is no need to do so, and in a sense, if the tea is pretty typical and unremarkable, the most honest thing you can do is to say so in plain language.
Other times, I enjoy a tea and find it interesting, but I struggle to find words. It's okay to say: "I like this tea, but I can't find words to describe why I like it." That's honest, worthwhile to write and to share with others, and in my opinion, a better course of action than making up something about what you think you "should" write.
Try it out:
If you are one of these people who avoids writing reviews because you are too intimidated, I would encourage you to push yourself to write a few reviews! Write reviews of tea, or of anything, post them on your blog, on RateTea.com, or on any review website! Or just write a brief review for yourself as practice and see how it works. You may be surprised that once you start writing, you develop a new confidence and you start more easily finding words with which to express yourself.