It's been aeons since I updated! Well, more accurately, since some time late-September, a little over two months.
This morning I'm drinking Dao Ren Tea from Mountain Rose Herbs, a pretty straightforward Zhejiang green tea, organic certified, that was sold for a very reasonable price. You can read my review on RateTea. I have still been posting reviews there.
So why did I stop updating so frequently?
Short story, I wasn't getting anywhere near as much out of blogging as I was putting in. RateTea requires some maintenance and upkeep, and RateTea is more of a priority than this blog. Some good news is that RateTea's traffic has picked up and is close to establishing a new record high level!
I really appreciate the comments I get here, but to be blunt, my posts here don't attract enough attention to make it worth my while to post as often as I was. So I needed a break. I don't feel satisfied with putting as much energy as I was into my writing, if my audience is as small as it was. I've been brainstorming why this is. I have another blog on Wordpress.com that I've used as a convenient comparison, and I am starting to think that Wordpress is a better blogging platform for attracting views. On wordpress, even without having any subscribers, I would post something and BAM, a lot of people would read it, and I also would get fewer spam comments. (I get an unbelievable amount of spam here on blogger, AND the spam filter frequently sends sincere comments into the spam bin, from lovely people such as Steph of Steph's Cup of Tea or The Teaist.)
I think blogger has poor spam control, both for spam blogs and comments, and I think this hurts blogger's visibility. Over the past year, I've reported dozens of spam blogs to Blogger, only to see them stay up for months, and some never get taken down. With Wordpress.com, it's different. I report, and usually I get an email 3 hours later, a personal reply from a human being, thanking me, and the blog is taken down immediately. I love this. So I've been toying with the idea of moving this blog over to Wordpress.com.
I also keep considering the idea of starting a blog hosted on Tea Trade, but the site's slow load times have been a barrier to me doing this. But Tea Trade does have a really rich community of tea bloggers, and it makes a difference to me that it's run by people, Jackie and Peter, who really seem to love tea and love reading and writing.
But there are a lot of other reasons that I slowed down blogging. I also have a lot of other things going on in my life, and I've been publishing more things online on other topics and in other avenues. Here are some things I have going on:
Why This Way:
One of the most exciting things is Why This Way, which is a new group that some of my friends and I co-founded back in January. It's a belief system and organization that is run by consensus, a little like a hybrid of organized religion and Wikipedia. We started out calling it a religion, but after bringing more people into the group who did not think it was a religion, because it is run by consensus, we stopped presenting it as such. It's really hard to know what to present it as. It presents a system of beliefs and practices that are related to all aspects of life--but it is not exclusive with other religions or belief systems.
I think this group can potentially be really transformative. At the beginning of this group, we developed a way of communicating which is based on respect and truthfulness, which is designed to create fulfilling, positive dialogue on controversial subjects. So far, it's been working very well. Our group has had people participating from a broad range of religious traditions, and we've had a remarkably easy time reaching consensus on normally controversial or emotionally-charged issues.
I want to write more about this, but it's getting a bit off-topic here so back to tea.
I've also been thinking more creatively about ways to reach a broader audience of tea drinkers. Sometimes I feel like the existing tea subcultures on the web are a bit saturated and somewhat stagnant. Blogs have their dedicated followings, RateTea has a certain type of viewer, as does Steepster. There is some overlap, with a few die-hard fanatics like myself having presences on virtually all major online tea communities. But I also think there are untapped resources.
A while back I discovered the tea subreddit, which I wrote about. I like this community because it seems to have more of an influx of new people--but it's also limited by the format. If you like upvoting, downvoting, and brief comments with occasional links, that's great, but it's not always my preferred medium of expression. More recently I discovered Tumblr. Tumblr is a little bit of a big uncensored ball of teen angst (something I can relate to and appreciate), but it does have a lot of people on it who are interested in tea, who sometimes post about tea.
I also have been publishing more tea stuff on Squidoo lately. I've been finding my stuff on Squidoo is attracting more of an audience than my blog, relative to the effort I put into it, and the site also provides a lot of interesting opportunities for engagement, including polls, discussions, quizzes, and the like.
So I think I want to dedicate more energy to exploring these other communities, and perhaps searching for yet more.
But I'm hoping to keep updating this blog regularly--although not as frequently as before. I'm aiming for 3-5 posts a month now.