The Power of Positive Reviewing

I started as a video reviewer, and have many times reviewed teas on this blog, so messages like this aren’t unusual, I get them all the time:

steven zhou:
Do you like the best green tea in China – longjing green tea from west lake in hangzhou? We need to do product review, please contact me if you need, it is free
Contact: [email protected]URL:

So, let’s start with the pitch “best green tea in China”. Well, that sound impressive! There’s no citation where it was voted thus by a panel of experts, but would Stephen Zhou lie to me? I don’t know, never heard of him. Let’s hope not.

Often people do cite ling jing (Dragon Well) as the best green tea, so that’s positive. I’ve only ever had Long Jings that I didn’t really enjoy, so maybe here’s a chance to fix that. And here’s the best bit… It’s free. 

If I get asked to do a review, I have two rules. One, send me the tea for nothing including no postage and (b) suffer the consequences if you send me a tea I don’t like.  This isn’t news, I’ve written about it before.

So, I replied:

Hi, feel free to send some to:
<my address>
And I will review.
Lord Devotea
And I got this back:
Dear Godden,
Thank you for your letter
Our products can be shipped from amazon Australia. Please refer to the picture for purchase information
One week after you receive the product, leave us a positive review of the product and we will refund you in full through PAYPAL

So, let’s run that again, Stephen…

  1.  I BUY your tea. (that’s a really bad start)
  2. I then review it WITHIN A WEEK (not so good for bloggers who have a schedule and write posts up to three months in advance, which luckily is not my style)
  3. IF you like the review, you’ll send me some money.


So, here’s the picture:

Here’s a side question: SECOND grade?

If it’s the BEST green tea in China, how is it second grade?

A quick check of their site, which incidentally is named after matcha, shows that they have Second Grade, First Grade, and even Superior Grade.

So, if the First and Superior grades are indeed better than the Second grade, then it’s hard to conclude that Steven Zhou has been telling me the truth. If, on the other hand, Second grade IS the best green tea in China, then he’s lying to everyone else.

A quick check of their website reveals the concept of Long Jing being the best Chinese green tea (grade notwithstanding). In fact, this is what is says at the moment I accessed it and saved it.

Dragon Well name derives from a local spring that legend has it is the lair of a dragon. Also known as Longjing, it is the best known of China’s green teas, justifiably so. It had been presented as tribute to many generations of Chinese emperors, and was the tea served to Richard Nixon in his memorable encounter with Mao Tse-tung. In local parlance, it is praised for its “four characters”: jade color, vegetative aroma, mellow chestnut flavor and singular shape.
Top 7 Benefits of Green Tea
  • Reduce atherosclerosis and risk of heart disease
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Reduce cholesterol levels
  • Reduce inflammation in arthritis cases
  • Improve bone density
  • Improve memory
  • Prevent cancer

Now, I know what you’re thinking, apart from “Richard Nixon and Chairman Mao, my favourite celebrity endorsement ever”. You’re thinking, “wow, it’s tough having high blood pressure and/or cancer, but know I now how to avoid them!”

I selected those two because, even though they aren’t the most outrageous lies on the list, they are the two that have links. Both link to Dr Axe, a medical site that keeps quite busy.

It must be said that Steven Zhou’s reputation as a wise and truthful man is starting to fray around the edges in my eyes.

Anyway, let’s get back to the main issues.

If Steven Zhou is to be believed, then he’s indulging in a little “cash for comment”, or indeed “tea stash for comment”. In Australia, that’s illegal if you don’t declare your interest, i.e. you say you’ve been paid for the comments. And quite frankly, that’s hard to do if you are waiting to find out whether Steven Zhou actually likes the review before he reimburses you for his tea.

All joking aside, this is simply grubby. Grubby, grubby, grubby. It’s an attempt to ramp up sales by using simple bribery. No rules, no “make sure you add a disclaimer”. Just a hope that others will be hoodwinked by a “positive review”.

So, where does that leave us? I’m still not enamoured with Long Jing. Oh well, there’ll be other chances.

Tea reviewing is already dubious. Many reviewers will not publish a bad review. So, while they are truthful within themselves, they skew the field by being overwhelmingly positive.

Anyway, back to this matter. I’ll be watching Amazon for positive reviews, and if I see one, I’ll be asking the question.

DISCLAIMER: Neither Lord Devotea nor any member of his extended family or household servants nor pets nor agents or representatives have accepted any money, tea or magic beans from JQ Matcha / Steven Zhou for this review, and quite frankly, it’s not looking likely in the future.






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