Awards are given to many things, tea included. They are a sign that someone thinks that the time and effort invested in the award-winning item was well-spent. However, just as in wine, a tea winning an award is no guarantee that you will like it. Winning an award in a category like best package design certainly doesn’t. But even winning an award for taste is iffy since what the judges like can be quite different from what you like.
So, do these awards have any real value for you, the average tea drinker, and do they affect your decisions on what teas to buy?
First, bear in mind that the people judging are usually experts in their field, whether we are talking about art, literature, or potables. (Beauty contests are another matter.) The judging of tea is done under special conditions using special methods by highly trained and experienced individuals. In other words, this is not like your life situation, your kitchen, your teawares, even your water.
With this in mind, it’s easy to see that awards are no more an indication of how well you will or won’t like a tea than is knowing that such-and-such celebrity drinks it or has his/her own tea brand or company. That doesn’t mean they are valueless, though. It just means that you may not have the award-winning taste experience you are expecting.
All of this came to mind with the news of John Harney of Harney & Sons winning an award recently. In his case, it’s a well-deserved award to someone who has devoted his life to bringing great teas to his customers while keeping the appeal wide enough so that casual tea drinkers can also find something to suit their taste. The company has been around quite awhile and have set standards for tea above what used to be the norm in the U.S.
Another item that relates to this is some feedback I got from another tea lover who had purchased a tea based on a tea reviewer raving about it. She, sadly, did not consider the tea one to rave about (in fact, she said it tasted like dirty socks!) and ended up giving it to someone else to try. The difference could have been in the water used, the teaware used to steep it, how it was steeped, and of course personal taste. Awhile back, I reviewed a highly acclaimed tea that I didn’t like at all and got an email from the vendor that I must have done something wrong. Well, of course, it was my fault!
I guess the bottom line here is the same as it is with anything else in life: there are no guarantees. If you want to venture to try a tea because it won an award, here’s hoping the experience is all you anticipate. Enjoy!
© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.