Monday, March 20, 2017

Kinnari Tea Laos Earl Green

A Kinnari Tea Earl Green version!  Of course I’ve heard of versions of Earl Grey made with green tea but never got around to trying one.  I don’t drink that much green tea or flavored teas (blended or infused, any types), but since Earl Grey is an acceptable exception this may work.  I’ve tried jasmine black teas that weren’t bad, and a sticky rice tea from Kinnari Tea was a pleasant surprise, and Chiang Mai shop, Monsoon, did a nice coconut flavored green tea.  Osmanthus oolong can be ok, but some might be better without the osmanthus if the oolong is good.   

I’ll say a little about expectations first, a pre-review (something different).  I’d expect it to taste like green tea with bergamot orange oil flavor added, which is basically just the recipe.  The green tea might be a bit mineral intensive, not like Vietnamese green teas are, intense flint or limestone rock mineral on top of a vegetal tea, but likely subdued, maybe more like a sun-dried black or a really mild version of sheng.  I’d expect it to not be so vegetal, and not heavy on a toasted rice or nutty element, but with a bit more dried hay range than is typical for a green tea, and soft and light minerals.  All that is just a guess, from the looks of the tea and a description of the general style of the other types as much as anything.  Of course I’m also wondering how well bergamot orange oil works with green tea, but if those guesses hold up I won’t find out how it works layered in with grass or bell pepper flavors.

actual brewing was close to that, this time

After actually tasting it:  the tea is nice; it sort of works.  Of course it does taste like bergamot (orange oil, a specific type, so citrusy).  The green tea is mild, not grassy, not vegetal, no intense minerals.  The orange is a little heavy on the first infusion, or rather the tea is a bit subdued, since the orange is where it should be, but tea flavors pick up in the second infusion.  Altogether the flavors are sweet and bright and it all balances well.

I’m making it true Western style (really! ok, maybe just a little heavy on the proportion), even in an infuser device, which my parents gave me for Christmas, just to mix things up.  Using that device makes getting water temperature just right tricky because it would soak up lots of heat but I’d expect some guesswork to land that in about the right range.  I’d expect this will brew a lot of infusions, even for using a relatively typical Western proportion and timing, because of the tea type (just a guess, though, we'll see).

another gift, my kids call "ugly person" (in Thai)

It’s hard to review what the tea itself is like for being mixed with the bergamot oil flavor, so I’ll have to focus on how well it works together, the end effect, and maybe guess backwards to what it would be like alone.  They sent a plain green tea with the other samples, which I’ll review separately, but the style might not be exactly the same.  I was wondering going in if I’d even like “Earl Green,” and it’s fine, it works better than it sounds.

A bit more vegetable range wouldn’t be as nice, I’d expect, but this tea is soft and earthy, a bit subdued, so the only issue might be that that aspects range doesn’t stand up against the orange as much as a black tea might.  But they’ve adjusted bergamot strength to compensate, so it’s just a bit mild, in a lighter balance, brighter and less earthy.

The natural question that might come to mind is “why would they flavor this tea”?  Someone else might be an Earl Green type fan, and then they wouldn’t ask that.  For others, for me I suppose, it might be more natural to make it into a black tea instead, to oxidize it.  At least it is more novel this way.

On the third infusion I went longer and the bergamot and the tea taste both ramped up, but they were already in a good range for the last infusion.  It’s nice that somehow that proportion didn’t change, orange to tea flavors.  It’s not astringent, at all, just with a trace of edge to give it some feel, which works.

As with Vietnamese green tea standard practice (in Vietnam, at least) going with full-boiling point temperature water would bring more astringency out, but I’d as soon not.  The tea being this soft gives you the option of ramping up temperature, or experimenting with different ones.  They suggest 85 C, and it wouldn't be as biting as lots of green types when brewed cooler than that.  Some people could prefer an edgy green tea (the normal preference in Vietnam, per my understanding), and I suppose that softness could be seen as a flaw, if so.

Made a little stronger in this third infusion it’s possible to teas out more tea contribution / flavor from “below” the orange.  It is rich, and mild, but full, reminding me a little of the “cereal” element in the one white tea, the Silver Cloud.  There is a little mineral but less than I expected, even though I didn’t expect much, for it to be flinty.  You would think there would be some vegetable to be noticed, at least a little, but it’s more in the floral range, it seems.  It’s all a nice effect, quite bright and lively, clean and balanced, fruit and floral with mild earth and very light mineral as a base.  The sweetness helps support the rest.

A monk gave me some Earl Grey tea not so long ago, the standard Twinings version (odd how that works out, trading teas with monks, a long story) but there’s not much comparison to be made.  The bergamot is common, the rest is different, and the balance is quite different.  I think this still would work with a more typical green tea, something less soft and subdued, less complex, more grassy or vegetal, but it might be a lot better in this form.

The fourth infusion I went quite long for, and it is fading a little, but that seems fine, getting one light and three normal strength infusions out of a green tea.

I think if I liked green teas and flavored teas more this would strike me as a really exceptional tea; as things stand it was a pleasant change of pace.  It's just a matter of preference, not an objectively accurate evaluation, but to me the Sticky Rice Silver Cloud tea worked better.  Scanning back through that post there wasn't much there for subjective take, how I liked it, which is also relevant, even if that relates as much to preference for type and attributes as to a general overall judgement.  That wasn't just nice for being novel, which it was, but well above average compared to all the plain white teas I've ever tried.  I think I liked it better in part because of how well the flavors matched but also because that flavoring was very subtle, so that it really could have been a natural tea that just happened to taste a little like sticky rice.

they grow up so fast

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Teasenz Black Needle Dian Hong, and more comparison

I'm reviewing a Teasenz Dian Hong, which they describe as a Black Needle style tea (with a sample supplied by them for review).  I often mention shooting for a simple review, and then drift off on tangents, and in this case I did also taste it along with another related tea.  That wasn't informative, they weren't similar enough, so I'll edit out the comparison and say a little more about that after the review.

I brewed the tea Gongfu style, modified to use relatively longer infusion times.  That involves stepping back the proportion from some teas I brew using really short timing.  The tea would be ok prepared Western style, not so different, but using more infusions instead and a bit higher proportion gets you a better look at the aspects, and I tend to like Dian Hong better made this way.  It's hard to know if a certain tea wouldn't be slightly better prepared using a modified Gongfu approach or a more typical Western approach without trying both, but the general aspect range is typically not so different, it mostly just shifts around how the aspects balance.

On first tasting the tea seems nice, all the typical range, a bit earthy, with some soft and rich redwood-range wood tone, and with some cinnamon standing out.  Fruit is present but I'd expect that range will stand out more after an initial round.

Things do change a lot on the next infusion, even though still moderate in time-length (a bit over a minute but I wasn't timing it).  The color of the tea darkened to a clear dark red.  It picks up a good bit of toffee or dark caramel sweetness.  The spice isn't pronounced but I'm still picking that up.  I suppose that could instead be interpreted as cocoa, or maybe as a bit of both, but the other complexity makes it trickier to separate them.  The fruit tone is still subtle, in the yam range, but with enough depth adding another fruit or two to that description-list might be justified.

The flavors are relatively clean, and the feel is nice, maybe a bit soft, but to me that works.  It still has decent body and lots going on so it doesn't need some unusual form of dryness to make it more interesting.

dark and reddish; it would work brewed lighter too

It doesn't transition much on the next infusion, but it was nice the last round anyway.  The flavors weren't really murky before but the wood tones may have brightened just a little.  That wood is in an interesting range, along the lines of cedar / redwood.  It hints a little towards spice still, or maybe cocoa, although that last may have faded, a little harder to pick up.  More fruit shows up, but still as an underlying layer, not as pronounced as the earthy wood tones.  It all works; it strikes a good balance.  It's on the softer side, not astringent at all, but still full.

Light mineral tones underlie those aspects, and sort of tie to the body of the tea.  Something comparable happens in lots of other teas, just in different senses.  It's nothing like the Wuyi Yancha background context--those particular minerals--but the function is the same, the way it gives the range of both types of teas a nice depth and balance.

brewed leaf, still needle-like

The tea is nice:  a comfortable, complex, easy to drink black tea.  Aspects do vary for Dian Hong but this is within the range of what is typical.  It could pick up a little in the way of structure, or feel, or even a little in complexity, but it's well balanced, with a good bit going on, and nice character.  It's a kind of tea you could keep drinking frequently, which would probably work out well brewed different ways, or prepared at different infusion strengths.

Comparison tasting; why that doesn't always work

I tried this tea at the same time as a Farmerleaf sun-dried autumn harvest Jing Mai (Yunnan) black tea (reviewed alone here), but it wasn't similar enough to be informative.  The comparisons are just a phase I'm going through, what I'm experimenting on lately.

Even if the teas are different as long as they share enough commonality tasting two together can help highlight subtle aspects that they don't share.  But if they're too different it won't work out like that, and comparison will just be a distraction, too much about differences.  This was more like that second case.  Someone really into that cha qi aspect might not do comparisons at all; it would give you a blended cha qi effect, who knows if good or bad.

The Farmerleaf tea also had light wood tones as a starting point, it was also sweet, and also full in feel, maybe a little "drier," again with some fruit and hinting a little towards spice.  It started out more in the cocoa range but shifted to wood-tone aspects later.  It sounds exactly the same, put that way, but it was quite different.  The Farmerleaf tea came across as more subtle, which stood out in comparing it to the other oven-dried Farmerleaf black tea as well.  Per that vendor input sundried teas are supposed to keep gaining more character over the first two or three years, but I've only let it sit for however many months so far, and it's not even close to a year old.

There was an overall effect difference, how it all balanced, beyond the secondary characteristic differences between the two teas.  Maybe those contrasts would have been informative, if written out as a comparison tasting, infusion by infusion as the tasting notes were taken, but it was subtle enough that it didn't seem clear.  More than that, it didn't seem to add anything to helping with the review process.

The Farmerleaf tea also had a bit more earthy range, and less fruit.  Pronounced aspects ran a little towards forest floor, or maybe just woody in different sense, or possibly even towards a leather range.  It always sounds odd describing teas outside the range of actual food flavor aspects but that's not necessarily a bad thing.  I had a shou pu'er with lunch today that might be described as tasting like tar that was nice.  I love the odd earthy flavors ranges that can stand out in Wuyi Yancha, when those work well, in nice versions.

Both teas were nice, just different.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Online group psychology; why review tea, part two

Some of this could be my imagination leading in odd directions, but I think a deeper level answer to "why review tea," related to tea bloggers, as considered in this post, has to do with an online version of group-related psychology.  I'm speculating that self-identifying is one purpose, defining oneself as a member of one or more sets of tea enthusiasts, perhaps even more than having any other final goal in mind.  Of course I also write for different reasons, to keep track of review notes and links, to practice writing, and so on.  But here I'll consider the answer that tea blogging and review could relate to an unusual form of group involvement, relating to sharing an interest, potentially played out as much online as in real life, or perhaps both.

Obvious enough, but with that said, what would the rest of this post be about?  It's not as if I could distill that down to some clear and simple principles that no one is aware of; people talk about things online, in blogs, in groups, and otherwise.  So I'll just ramble on and cite some things, the usual approach.

This online reference on the psychology of groups can serve as a starting point:

Groups are not only founts of information during times of ambiguity, they also help us answer the existentially significant question, “Who am I?” Common sense tells us that our sense of self is our private definition of who we are, a kind of archival record of our experiences, qualities, and capabilities. Yet, the self also includes all those qualities that spring from memberships in groups. People are defined not only by their traits, preferences, interests, likes, and dislikes, but also by their friendships, social roles, family connections, and group memberships. The self is not just a “me,” but also a “we.”

Even demographic qualities such as sex or age can influence us if we categorize ourselves based on these qualities. Social identity theory, for example, assumes that we don’t just classify other people into such social categories as man, woman, Anglo, elderly, or college student, but we also categorize ourselves. Moreover, if we strongly identify with these categories, then we will ascribe the characteristics of the typical member of these groups to ourselves, and so stereotype ourselves. If, for example, we believe that college students are intellectual, then we will assume we, too, are intellectual if we identify with that group (Hogg, 2001).

groups graphic (credit)

Beyond starting a blog and writing reviews, or discussion in groups, there's always real life as a fall-back.  Someone could meet others in person and drink tea with them, with some clear advantages to that approach, but a limited form group association no longer absolutely requires that.  At some point limiting contact to online format only might seem a bit thin, less likely to extend to "real" friendships, but the basic dynamics might be similar.

Throughout the rest of this mixing ideas about group psychology with implied claims that online social patterns occur in comparable forms might be seen as problematic.  There are real groups, and also online social contact, and they seem related but different.  One often encounters the idea that online associations only become valid as an extension of real-life connections, or as a means to initiate those.  Make of all that what you will.  Feel free to reject the association, or think it through and form your own conclusions.  I don't think that the role online interactions play in relation to real-life forms is as clear as that might be, even though many of us have plenty of online experience to base an impression of that on.

A few more ideas from that initial source work to outline purpose, why group inclusion is desirable, and also relate to keeping score within a group, to ways to judge how well participation is going:

Groups also provide a variety of means for maintaining and enhancing a sense of self-worth, as our assessment of the quality of groups we belong to influences our collective self-esteem (Crocker & Luhtanen, 1990). If our self-esteem is shaken by a personal setback, we can focus on our group’s success and prestige. In addition, by comparing our group to other groups, we frequently discover that we are members of the better group, and so can take pride in our superiority. By denigrating other groups, we elevate both our personal and our collective self-esteem (Crocker & Major, 1989).

Mark Leary’s sociometer model goes so far as to suggest that “self-esteem is part of a sociometer that monitors peoples’ relational value in other people’s eyes” (2007, p. 328). He maintains self-esteem is not just an index of one’s sense of personal value, but also an indicator of acceptance into groups. Like a gauge that indicates how much fuel is left in the tank, a dip in self-esteem indicates exclusion from our group is likely...

Interesting!  Definitely drifting off the central topic a bit, but there are some related points to make.

Related to the first points, not only does being a tea enthusiast in a group add more value to the association, beyond that being the right kind of tea drinker, having the right preferences or experience or interacting with the right people, also works out better.  One could choose to take their rightful place in the smart and knowledgeable tea enthusiasts' group, a sure sign they are the same way.

Related to the second set of ideas, about self esteem and personal value, how could someone be excluded from an online group for being an inferior tea enthusiast?  Just mentioning making tea from tea bags in some groups might be a good example, or discussing adding sugar to tea.  Finer distinctions enter in related to teaware choices, or tea types preferences, or general knowledge.  It also seems like more interesting grouping patterns don't even relate to those things, but perhaps instead to personality types (with more to follow on that).

Facebook tea group I helped found and admin  (link)

Of course I'm not prone to feeling superior to others based on a beverage choice, related to the darker turns all those ideas could take.  I don't tend to drink tea from tea bags, or blends, but I'm not offended by that kind of thing.  Then again, if someone asks for suggestions about either in a group I wouldn't have much to add.  Any comment that includes the content "I don't normally drink that," combined with some other ideas to justify saying anything, could be a form of that self-differentiation.  One could become active in a group related to Gongfu Cha, a "higher" form of tea practice, related to those earlier alignment ideas, and that range of subjects would never even come up.

These lines of thinking, about group inclusiveness and acceptance, could also drift off the topic of group dynamics into personal psychological traits, since characteristics like openness and agreeableness relate to this.  Check out this reference citation that subject:

Agreeableness:  this personality dimension includes attributes such as trust, altruism, kindness, affection and other prosocial behaviors.  People who are high in agreeableness tend to be more cooperative while those low in this trait tend to be more competitive and even manipulative.

Sounds like that "disagreeable" person wouldn't be much fun to be around, doesn't it?  Or maybe even to hear from in discussion comments.  I've read elsewhere that less agreeable people make better managers because they're not so worried about making everyone happy, and just get on with making decisions completely separate from that concern.  That sort of rings a bell, culturally speaking.

There are online discussion "areas" out there where you wonder why anyone would continue to participate in being so negative, in the form of being judgmental, or insulting, or somewhere in between, and it could relate to sharing attributes like that one.  There is a Thai expat group in which most posts are quickly met with responses along the line of "you should just kill yourself," offered as humor.  It's not a happy place to exchange ideas, unless that fits with someone's sense of humor, and then maybe it is.

It's interesting to consider to what degree people could feel higher or lower self-esteem based on acceptance in a purely online context.  Entry and exit is easy in online groups.  How would that work, for bloggers in particular though?  Starting a blog is easy, but how to gauge social acceptance?

I guess that could be charted by viewer numbers, at least in part.  Or by other types of social contact aspects, related to being included in a summary of best posts, being cited, added to a blog role, linked to within other blogs (although that seems less commonly practiced now); any number of things.  Or real-life recognition could take different forms, like some sort of award.

group functional stages (credit this reference)

Interesting set of group stages and activities in the graphic, isn't it?  I'm going to have to leave most of that unexamined, but I will get back to a couple of points.  Obviously enough we can see a difference in more typical real-life social groups (clubs, etc.) and online associations in the norming and performing stages.  Online associations are marked by a lack of cohesiveness; anyone can show up, culling members out of the group isn't always so simple (although depending on the group interactions maybe it would be, "banning").  Achieving any combined goals in an online group is problematic, especially a loosely defined one.  Just keeping discussion active exhausts most of the potential.

There are ways around that, potential for tightening membership up and aligning interests.  Related to writing blogs about tea, something like the Tea Blogger's Association makes it clear who is in and who's out, related to defining a set, and setting some guidelines.  It seems like that group might have been more active in the past but that general point remains the same; people seek out ways to solidify relations, if they are so inclined.  Training and certifications could also relate, or any number of other ways to obtain labels or in-group status, but I won't go into those here.

Let's leave aside the issues of how good a fit this really is, comparing what a blogger does with a real-life group, and shift even further into group psychology.  None of this really will settle how much sense it's making, applying ideas from real-life group dynamics to much looser associations online, but there are some interesting next ideas to consider after leaving that aside.

tea review site and discussion forum (link)

Different relations between in-group and out-group members

This is where the subject gets interesting; related to what people do in groups they may not even notice being in, about how perspective differences play out.  Check this out (from a Scientific American blog post):

A large literature in social psychology shows that we process information about our in-group more deeply, we remember more positive details, make greater personal evaluations, and allocate resources more generally to those in the in-group. What's more, negative actions of those in the in-group are thought to arise from situational factors, whereas positive ones are thought to be inherent qualities of the individual, whereas the reverse is believed about members of the out-group.

Indeed, there is an emerging literature on "pathological altruism", suggesting that extreme compassion can have downsides such as difficulty passing judgment of right vs. wrong, and forgiving all transgression and failures of those in the in-group while acting highly protective and aggressive toward those in the out-group, even sometimes in the absence of actual provocation and injustice.

two evils

It makes me think of politics straight away, although it may be as well to not drift too far into that topic.  The "left and right, liberal versus conservative" sides tend to lump together the opposing side, and quickly distill it all into wrong versus right.  Whatever comes up related to their side is just fine, just a minor glitch at worst, easy to accept regardless of how awkwardly things play out.  Members of the other side are just idiots, with every negative turn indicating a deeply flawed worldview.

Within expat circles people tend to break along one main line of differentiation, related to fully integrating into the host society or remaining largely separate from it.  Of course it's not quite that clear, and some are in the middle, but generally people emphasize one approach over the other.  Related to these ideas about exclusiveness, in some cases people tend to become antagonistic about the other approach, to reject it as invalid.  On the one side there's a claim that people that can't immerse in a local culture and fully appreciate it should just go back home, extended to wherever that leads, for example to the idea that local language fluency is critical, or only eating local foods.  The claim on the other side is that "integration" emphasis leads to blindly apologizing for all local limitations, refusing to accept that there is good and bad in any cultural perspective, or to the position that food preferences really aren't that critical either way.  The truths and biases mixed together in both sets of claims make them difficult to sort out.

Another part of that second set of points in that citation is interesting:  if someone did or said something perceived negatively within the group--however that was defined--then that would be attributed to just a part of that circumstance, only related to the person, but if someone did the same thing from outside the group that would reflect on them as a member of some category.  And the last part is about interpretive bias tied to that, how the positive or negative spin is overly emphasized.

It's a stretch dragging all this back to tea circles, to be honest.  It just wouldn't seem to stick related to something like shared participation in a forum, and besides, the subject is tea.  Someone might see people inclined to drink tea made from tea bags as an outsider, or a lower form of tea drinker, or labeling as "snobs" in the other direction, but those types of connections related to grouping and judgments just mentioned goes a bit far.  It might work better once more cohesion is developed, in a set of people that communicate more often, or "know" each other, not just tied to whoever shows up somewhere online and prepares a drink in the same way.

That relates to the "norming and performing" aspects in that group functions table.  To some extent it may be a problem for an online group to clearly define these, to set limits, and to take those next steps.  Inclusiveness could actually become a problem, related to that, due to incomplete "forming and storming" steps (note that chart includes a typo; there is no "stroming").  I'll drop this exploration of that process modeling though, just mentioning an interesting short definition of those stages in a business management context.

Some examples of negative biases and active exclusion related to tea circles do come to mind, most of which don't seem suitable for sharing.  I can only think of two cases where people were completely and explicitly excluded from an assumed in-group, related to tea, and both did get a little ugly.  I've been kicked out of a tea group before (a long story, tied to one of those cases).  I'm not counting that as a related example, just more background about things coming up.

It might seem like within tea circles the practice of one-upping or even slighting others seems to reject the dynamics work out in this way, as a true example of grouping.  It's not all just a love-fest, and people don't really seem so cohesive, in lots of cases.  Some people are like that, positive about anything, but "my tea is better than your tea" type commentary comes up, sometimes in the form of "you're not doing it right."  That could just tie back to the "storming" phase idea, about defining roles, or a different part of that first study into group psychology has some insights that might relate:

Groups not only satisfy the need to belong, they also provide members with information, assistance, and social support. Leon Festinger’s theory of social comparison (1950, 1954) suggested that in many cases people join with others to evaluate the accuracy of their personal beliefs and attitudes... 

Although any kind of companionship is appreciated, we prefer those who provide us with reassurance and support as well as accurate information. In some cases, we also prefer to join with others who are even worse off than we are. Imagine, for example, how you would respond when the teacher hands back the test and yours is marked 85%. Do you want to affiliate with a friend who got a 95% or a friend who got a 78%? To maintain a sense of self-worth, people seek out and compare themselves to the less fortunate. 

This process is known as downward social comparison.

So we really do want that good advice about using a different water temperature for making a certain tea (or about sourcing, whatever the subject is), but at the same time to a limited extent we might also want to be the person that offers that advice more than to be the one receiving it.  Of course everyone in the group can't be above average, a great general resource for answers, but it might be possible to take turns offering that last interesting insight.  Assuming all of this really does map onto online group dynamics (which I'll stop mentioning) it would always be possible to lurk in a more informative, "higher level" of experience group, to remain quieter there, and be a more active member in a less informed group, thus satisfying both demands in different ways.

World Tea Expo bloggers panel (photo credit)

Circling back to the review / blogging case

This all drifts further to online group issues, doesn't it?  Related to actually writing blog posts, that's not really social (drifting back to the earliest starting point:  the question "why review tea?").  Some tea bloggers' posts draw some comments but that's more typically the exception.  But it does seem to work to position that relatively individual activity within a social framework, to see it as playing a social role.

Bloggers make that more or less explicit in the writing; some are about social networked themes, and others seem to imply that context is of limited importance to them.  A review-only blog is at one extreme; completely unrelated to social contact.  All the same there's no reason why a blog that absolutely never mentions that any other humans exist, beyond the existence of tea vendors, couldn't still be serving a social role.  Readers as an audience are implied, at a minimum.  Part of the point could be to participate in a general, online-format discussion, but in a very indirect form.

This reminds me of the divide between introverts and extroverts.  A friend's take on this, a self-declared introvert, is that the key difference is a tolerance for social contact.  Obvious enough, with his point being that it's not just about liking or disliking being around other people, it's about being wired for not tolerating much of it versus essentially requiring that.  Online contact can serve as a middle ground for an introvert, according to him.  It's plenty of social distance; those people aren't right next to you, actively interacting, so it's tolerable.  That earlier reference summarizes it this way:

Extraversion is characterized by excitability, sociability, talkativeness, assertiveness and high amounts of emotional expressiveness.  People who are high in extroversion are outgoing and tend to gain energy in social situations. People who are low in extroversion (or introverted) tend to be more reserved and have to expend energy in social settings.

I guess the "Friends" sit-com characters were extroverts, spending every minute of their free time in a group of a half-dozen, while the "Seinfeld" characters may have potentially been introverts, just joining up for short chat sessions in very small groups and short outings.  I'm not sure how it interacts with these other factors but it seems possible online groups / interaction may enable more introverted people to participate in similar forms as in public contact, just outside of it.  At the far extreme reviewing teas could be like writing a journal, just online, still discussing tea socially, but just barely in terms of interaction.

Life cycle of associations; group "adjourning" played out online

Does all this work in my own case, this perspective?  I'm not so sure.  To some extent it does seem to be a real-life social activity replacement.  Viewer-numbers "scoring" does sort of work, a sign of involvement, and limited positive feedback in a sense since it keeps improving.  But then to some extent I have trouble placing why I'm still writing about tea.  It started as an experiment, to practice writing, and keep track of notes and research, and enable discussion, but I'm not as certain of which range of purposes really did work out.

All of this leads me to consider one last facet; tying these online group associations to the idea of groups "adjourning" and associations ceasing.  I'm reminded of a closing statement in a blog that went inactive:


Ok, I fought it and fought it, but the blog is officialy dead. It saddens me, as tea has given me much pleasure, as has this blog. Unfortunately for now my interests and hobbies have moved on to other things.

Maybe there's no deeper point to cite there.  As people define themselves, so can they change those interests and definitions.  A tea drinker could take up coffee, or tisanes, or juicing, or just not get around to posting.  That blog author mentioned participating in creating a tea site with friends, wikicha (which now links to a notice the domain name is for sale), which invokes the tie-in to other social concerns, which also ceased.

I participated in an active Asian-themed expat forum that went through that whole life-cycle, ramping up to a large active membership, with thousands of members (with maybe only a few dozen actively posting at any given time).  It spanned hundreds of discussion threads, with the more active core-group members posting in the range of 5-10,000 comments.  It's here, Xpat Life, formerly Orient Expat, with some remaining static content described as such:

If you have a question, or need advice on a subject not covered here, visit our forum by clicking the links to the left, which is staffed by experienced expats and frequented by a loyal membership who'll be happy to discuss this wonderful country with you.

But that section was shut down, and those links were removed.  It sort of just ran out of steam, for different reasons.

I helped found two separate Facebook tea groups, one of which I'm still active in, and an admin for, and it's been interesting seeing that group life-cycle from that perspective.

This seems like this is a good place to either transition to a deeper level of insights about how online groups thrive and then die or close this, and I've covered too much ground already.  It's funny how online social contact goes.  I hope that reading these rambling, tiresome posts means something to someone, and that sharing a love of tea really can extend a little beyond sharing a beverage preference, even if only through online connections.