We usually think of tea as such an invigorating yet calming and soothing beverage. Just the act of steeping a potful can give you time to relax, unwind, and cool off that temper. So why do I see so many displays of bad temper among tea drinkers and tea vendors alike? Several possibilities come to mind.
Badly Steeped Tea
This is actually the most understandable one. Who wouldn’t get upset over the Gyokuro, Chun Mee (“Precious Eyebrows”), or Huangshan Maofeng leaves getting stewed instead of steeped? And if you saw someone taking those Black Dragon Pearls and grinding them up before steeping, your ire might get fired up. Not to mention someone taking a blooming tea and steeping it using a teaball (sort of misses the whole point of it being a blooming tea).
A Tea Order Mix-up
You scour the tea vendor’s web site, reading through the descriptions of the various teas, maybe you even look up a particular tea you read a review of or that a friend recommended. Then you place your order, carefully following the directions on the site. Then you wait. Time can seem to crawl by, even though it could be as little as a couple of days. The package arrives, full not only of merchandise but of your hopes and anticipation of a delightful tea time. But alas, when you open the box and check the contents something is amiss. Instead of that Ceylon Orange Pekoe Black Tea you have an Orange Flavored Black Tea. Looks like the shipping clerk’s eyes must have been crossed. Mistakes can happen, but in our world of instant gratification, some folks can take this as quite a disaster and get downright irate. Social media sites make it very easy to vent in a public manner instead of contacting the company.
Highly Competitive Business
Tea vendors are becoming rather numerous, with some being a bit ahead of the pack in size, variety of products, and customers. The number of tea drinkers here in the U.S. is growing, too, but not necessarily as fast. This means a highly competitive business environment. These vendors do their best to stand out, including sending out samples and watching for the reviews, hosting a blog to educate and inform their customers, and engaging with those customers through social media sites. Some get a little too anxious over every little thing posted about them and their products. I have encountered several such situations. One vendor tries to counter anything he perceives as negative about his tearoom or demand that the site remove the item (article, user comment, or whatever). Another vendor goes after anything posted about his skills in non-tea areas and doesn’t want them included with any tea review. And then there’s the vendor who aired a grievance about something in my review of her tea publicly instead of contacting me privately (but not the first time it’s happened).
Hitting That “Send” Button Too Fast
We’ve all done it. The tweet, comment, Facebook posting, LinkedIn discussion remark, Pinterest pinning, etc., can’t always be deleted. Worse yet, even if you do delete something, your “followers,” “friends,” “contact,” etc., could have a copy anyway through an email notification. And then there are those who do a screen capture of that item before you can delete it, and then they repost it around.
How to Regain Composure
Learn how to properly steep the tea you’re having or, if someone else is steeping it for you, help them learn. Be patient with the vendor and address any order issues directly with them. Engage in honest and fair business practices that show your customers how you can accept the bad with the good and not think anything negative is a personal attack. And read and re-read before hitting that “Send” (or whatever) button.
Of course, this doesn’t apply solely to tea vendors, but one advantage here is that if you get upset with a tea vendor or they get upset with you, you can calm down with a cuppa their competitor’s tea!
See more of A.C. Cargill’s articles here.
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