I remember watching an episode of Man About The House as a kid in the 1970s. If you’ve never heard of this show, it possibly means you are either young or American, neither of which are probably your fault. (There was an American version of the show called “Three’s Company” that starred the late actor John Ritter, but it was terrible).
Anyway, in the episode I remember, Robin, who is a student chef, is convinced to cook a meal that Jo (that’s the dumb sex bomb) can pass off as her own to impress her new beau. Having cooked a superb meal of pork, Robin discovers too late that the young man in question is a certain young Mr Cohen, from an orthodox Jewish family. As I recall it, the poor dinner guest is too polite to complain, but ends up stashing the meal somewhere – in a light fitting, I think.
The point is, it wouldn’t have happened if Robin had asked a few basic questions.
In another pertinent memory (which assumes that last anecdote was also pertinent, and it is), a guy demonstrating that he could make a cup of tea in 90 seconds with a new machine (it took him 20 minutes to demonstrate this, bizarrely) assured me that I would be impressed with the taste of the tea he had selected for me to try: green tea with hibiscus and orange peel. If he’d asked me what tea he could make for me, I personally would not have picked the only one from the six next to him that had a substance I am massively allergic to in it.
If he’d shut his teahole for just a few seconds, I could have made a suggestion: “Ask questions, don’t assume”.
A few weeks ago, I got a nice message from a very polite tea merchant, asking if I would accept a sample of tea to review. At the time our own tea store was inactive in Australia, and so I agreed. (I didn’t realise he was actually in the US, where our store was and is active throughout the temporary closure in Australia).
A few days later I got an email, advising me that a sample was to be shipped, and naming the sample. Since I was curious about the name, I sought out the website concerned, and immediately noticed the presence of citrus peels in the blend.
Perhaps there are more self-obsessed people on the internet than me, but really, I doubt that anyone who has ever read more than six of my 250+ blogs has not become aware of my all-consuming citrus allergy.
I sent him an email, hoping to forestall the shipment, but it was too late. However, he was delighted to respond, and voila!: he has immediately shipped me something else to try- yerba mate.
I have only mentioned this hideous substance a few times on my blog, the last about two months ago when I suggested that instead of colour coding it, David’s Tea should have flung it in the bin.
Given the experience that people have suffered when sending me tea I actually like, this is pretty dumb. I’m known for biting the hand that feeds me tea anyway.
When we send tea off to a reviewer, it’s after carefully reading at least a few dozen of their reviews, selecting a tea we believe they will love and creating a personal chain of correspondence that will let them know about our ethos and what the tea represents.
We’re also lucky enough to have a slew of great reviews on Steepster, where the first we hear about it is when it is posted, but even so, I take the time to engage with the reviewer and tell them a little about the tea.
So, when this stuff arrives, I’m in a quandary. I ethically want to fulfil an obligation to review.
I’m not sure what to do, but time will tell.