My best friend alerted me to this wonderful website that she has begun blogging on. It's Steepster.com and is a blog forum for tea drinkers. It's kind of cute actually- At the top of my dashboard there's a headline question asking me "Hey BilichC, what's in your cup?" which I think is simply adorable! Luckily, I was able to sign up with them through the wonderful world of Google and can not only follow my friends TeaLog but could potentially post myself. Now I do love tea, and obviously writing, but since I already have two blogs going, I don't think it wise to take on logging the tea I drink unless I steep something fantastic in my NBC mug.
As there has always been a large number of tea drinkers all over the world, It doesn't surprise me that an online forum would be dedicated to tea's and tea drinking-tea drinkers. In this day and age where everyone is so engrossed in online social networking and web-based communities, the establishment of TeaLog-ing seems to fit neatly into the fabric of cyber-cultures. Not only has it become popular and important to share one's entire personal, academic or professional life on "the net", but the variants of topics, themes etc. have become specified to link together people far beyond the previous standards of commonality- language, literature and the lively arts. Yes, even the drinking of tea has become regulated and specified down to the exact type of loose leaf that "everyone" prefers. Interestingly, as much as there is a huge boom in "coffee culture" in North American society, Tea is gaining for itself a place and reputation within culture that might rival that of coffee.
The aforementioned website which is the basis for this post will clarify just how much Tea has been effected by culture and Culture has been effected by Tea- take a look at the word "Steepster" as a prime example. Is it a clever mixing of the act associated with tea - i.e steeping, and the phenomenon called "hipster"?? Is it a comical spelling for two actions associated with tea- steep(ing) and stir(ing)? If Tea is such a globally shared interest, Why don't (more) people meet up IRL (outside of the internet) to talk about and enjoy tea? Have we become so accustomed to researching and participating in online interests that we forget the importance of physical socialization? These are some of the questions that float around in my brain after encountering a site such as this. While the online tea drinking community is huge, according to Steepster, it appears to be just as large "offline" with people moving in and out of coffee-shops and tea-houses alike to purchase and consume all manner of tea and interact in social settings around tea such as frequenting retailers that sell tea and tea related implements. . .
I checked out "Learn more" section of this website in hopes of finding an answer but they do not address the phonetics of this word/title choice at all. They inform their users that the website was created by three New Yorker's who love tea and wanted to keep a track of the tea's they were drinking.
Furthermore, they provide 6 interesting reasons for why one might *heart* Steepster:
1. It's a connected online tea journal- you can share logs with anyone about the teas your consuming
2. It's a different way to discover new teas
3. it's the largest community-edited tea database on the web
4. you'll broaden your horizons and try new teas
5. it's a place to hang out and talk about all things tea
6. its totally free to sign up and easy to use
These certainly seem to be good reasons for one to participate in the Steepster culture... I only worry if it further persuades people to live their experiences and encounters through online media and negate the need for further human interaction beyond pointing to a tin and handing money to the TeaOpia cashier.
NeverTheLess, I still appreciate that there is a large community-edited forum for something as wonderful and "pure" as tea drinking.
I am aware that I did not address the history of Tea or the present day socio-economic issue around its cultivation, processing etc. I care deeply, just not interested enough for this post. So no harsh comments please. Feel free to give me your opinion, thoughts or knowledge on tea though, as always I am happy to receive your feedback and thoughts.