One of my favorite social media sites, steepster.com, looks like it is pining for the fjords. After a bit of research I found the owner’s July 7 post on Twitter saying that they’d sold the site to “people who will be able to support and grow the site.” Just a month later and the site is entirely down. I hope this is just a server glitch.
Steepster is where I went to learn about tea and tea companies. That’s Steepster’s purpose: tea. Unlike Facebook or Twitter or any of the large platforms, Steepster is narrowly focused on discussion and reviews of teas. Now, mind you, they define tea broadly to include herbal teas and matés as well as Camellia sinensis, but it’s all good.
I was one of the early members and so I have hundreds of tea reviews there. At least I did until they shut it down. I did tea exchanges with other members which gave me an opportunity to sample more teas than I could afford or find room for if I ordered them by myself.
I learned how to drink, buy, and appreciate Puerh tea, which is an education that is not that easy to get from other sources. I learned how the different brewing methods affect tea. I learned secrets of how tea companies create flavored teas. There were a lot of insiders there as well, so I learned a little bit about the business of being a tea purveyor.
Most critically, I used the site to keep track of my impressions of different teas through my reviews. That’s the part I will really miss if they’ve actually shut down. When you get right down to it, one packet of dark brown leaves looks much like any other packet of dark brown leaves. But their subtle or major differences are marked once I pour hot water over them. Teas vary more than wine but they vary for the same reasons: terroir, storage, production techniques.
I used Steepster as an external memory to ensure that I didn’t buy the same bad tea twice. And to help me find my favorites again. When the company that made my absolute favorite black tea died, I used Steepster to research and find a substitute, which is Upton Tea’s Yunnan Black Snail, if you’re curious.
If Steepster really is dead, that’s a problem for me. I will have to find a new community. Or I’ll have to put my tasting notes in a blog. But replicating hundreds of tasting notes that I already made sounds exhausting.
I hope it’s just resting. Can’t be dead. Just look at that beautiful plumage –– made completely of tea leaves.
I lift my cup to Steepster today, and to you as well. May your cup be filled with all things good. And may Steepster return to life soon.
Be well, friends.
UPDATE: Steepster.com is back! Come join me at the site for great tea conversations, ratings, and people.