Feb 23, 2013

blog statistics...

Believe it or not, I've observed that including a photo in the blog, no matter what photo it is, helps encourage people to click into your blog :-p
This morning, from the statistics of this blog, I found that the blog had 99,987 page views. So I tweeted on twitter, "oh my! my blog is 13 clicks away from 10,000 page view. maybe you want to be the 10,000th click?!" (And I just realize it at this moment that I put the number wrong!) Then I went to brush my teeth. And during my teeth brushing time, my blog got 30 something page views and surpassed the 100k threshold. It was quite amazing because I know I'm not the most popular tweeter, and I don't have a huge number of followers and I was thrilled that people did pay attention to what I said :-)

The blogspot report doesn't include statistics from my mirror blog site at teatra.de, lifeinteacup.teatra.de, where there are often lively conversations. I think teatra.de is a wonderful creation which sums up functions similar to twitter, facebook, blogs and online forum just for tea drinkers! But I wonder if anybody could tell me how to get blog statistics on teatra.de (which basically uses wordpress platform). I vaguely remember wordpress does have a statistics tracking system. But it took me a while to notice the statistics tracker of blogspot and I just can't find the statistics tracker on teatra.de or wordpress.

In other aspects, I do like wordpress platform much better than blogspot (which seems even retrogressing all these months...). I keep this blogspot blog site mainly because I'm too lazy to move, and according to Alex Zorach of ratetea.com,  it's important to keep the same URL scheme. But then, to my curiosity, Alex moved his own blog site, which generated great difficulty for me to locate his newest writings, as I love reading his articles and he wrote on quite a few different themes that I'm interested in. So, I would love to hear from Alex and others about their opinions on keeping consistent URL.

From time to time, I see discussions about how to promote popularity of a blog, and how a blogger would feel when there are too few readers or comments. There are quite a few interesting discussions on teatra.de, such as this one. And there is an analytical writing on Alex Zorach's old tea blog here (and some of the comments are quite interesting too). To me, as a blogger, having some enthusiastic readers is a lot more important than just having tons of readers. Similarly, in my life, I feel having some engaging friends is more important than just having tons of friends. And for business, I feel having some returning customers is more important than just having lots of new customers day in and day out. But on the other hand, we would all love to see more and more enthusiastic blog readers, or engaging friends, or returning customers, right?!

So in terms of blog traffic, here are a few more interesting things that I've observed from blog statistics.
1. The three sites that induced most traffic to my blog, are blog sites of three peer tea drinkers.
Matt Cha's blog:

Black Dragon Tea Bar (by Brett, who is also a co-founder of Phoenix Tea)

(I remember Ken also mentioned in his blog that Matt Cha's blog and Brett's blog are two of the biggest traffic inducing sites for his blog.)

Pots and Tea (by Petr Novak, whose name, interestingly, is also one of the most googled words that lead readers to my blog, as described in an earlier blog here.)

I think this means these three people are really popular in tea world - their sites inducing a lot of traffic, that means there are a lot of people hitting their sites to begin with, which means they write diligently, and people like them.

So, for tea bloggers who are concerned of promoting visibility of their blog sites, my advice is, make friends with them ;-)

2. Interestingly, among the top 10 traffic source sites for my blog, there are another two blog sites that are not updated as the above-mentioned top 3 traffic sources.

Tea Goober (by Bret)

Sharing My Tea Stories (by Rich)

Currently, these two blogs are not updated as often as they used to be. But in spite of that, they obviously still attract many readers. So again, for tea bloggers who are concerned of promoting visibility of their blog sites, my advice is, make friends with them and talk them into writing more ;-)

3. Besides the above mentioned tea blogs, I'm thankful to all blog sites that include my blog in their blog list. If I go over blogspot statistics of a specific month or week, I could see a broad range of blog sites that lead traffic to my blog. Traffic and page views are just numbers. More importantly, all the peer bloggers make me feel I'm in a community!

4. Twitter and other social network sites.
As mentioned at the beginning of this blog, twitter could be quite powerful. Twitter is the 7th largest traffic source of my blog, and I'm not even an active tweeter (probably fewer than 100 tweets in the past year). Besides, it seems that not all twitter-driven traffic is tracked by the blogspot statistics. So twitter might be a more powerful traffic source than I had observed.

I don't know how to track traffic from facebook. I don't even visit Life in Teacup facebook page very often. But it seems that it does induce traffic from time to time, and one could do much better job with facebook traffic induction that what I did.

5.  Online tea communities. I've got a list of websites of 11 English online tea communities (on the top right of this blog page). I guess it's not a coincidence that the three sites I visit most often (Tea Trade, TeaChat, and Steepster) are also the three tea forum sites  that introduce most traffic to my blog.

Tea Trade

As mentioned earlier, the traffic statistics from Tea Trade is not included in the blogspot statistics and I don't know yet where to find it. But I know it has led a lot of devoted tea drinkers to my blog, and it causes many interesting conversations. I've told a few new tea bloggers this - if you are still worried about your nicely written blog being under-read, try creating a blog (or a mirror site of your blog) on teatra.de. You won't feel lonely if you hang out where many other tea bloggers hang out!


Based on blogspot statistics, Steepster is the top tea forum site that leads traffic to my blog, and the 7th largest traffic source site to my blog. But overall, to my observation, traffic from tea forums is generally spontaneous, and not as consistent as traffic from peer blog sites. But anyway, Steepster seems to be the largest English tea forum so far, and the traffic on that site makes it a potentially powerful traffic source to your blog. Generally I would avoid doing too much self-citation on tea forums. But curious bloggers may experiment on giving a link of your blog post (that's relevant to a discussion topic going on) in a steepster discussion and see what happens. My impression is, steepsterites are quite responsive to newly posted links.


To my observation, different tea forums have quite different styles. TeaChat is one of the most unique English language tea forums that have nice combination of size and enthusiasm (although it's much smaller than steepster, I would rank its enthusiasm level, or maybe in another word, connoisseurship? much higher). Unlike steepsterites, who are generally very responsive to newly posted links, teachatters seem to be more responsive to certain discussion topics. If the topic is interesting to them, the attention would last for quite a while. If there is mystery or controversy involved, the attention would last for a long, long time :-D I have to clarify that I have never intentionally created debates to stir up blog traffic, but my blog traffic seems to unexpectedly benefit from some hot discussions on TeaChat.  

Besides the above-mentioned online forums, I have to mention this Russian forum that's very interesting to me.
I don't read Russian and I don't know what people there talk about most of the time. This site is not one of the "all time" top 10  traffic source sites for my blog, but in the past one month, it's the number 1 traffic source sites for my blog, and the same thing happened in some past months too. This doesn't necessary mean there is something so interesting on my blog - hey maybe I wrote something stupid that everybody took a look and laughed at :-p But this definitely demonstrates that this is a hot hub of Russian tea drinkers, and it looks like there are lots of them! No wonder once I read in a report that China aims at developing green tea and puerh market in Russia and see it as one of the potentially biggest international market. The rest of us can't do much at this Russian website, but if you are a Russian speaker, you've got to go there and take a look!  

Feb 16, 2013

Lan Cang Ancient Tea Honey Aroma 2006

This tea was produced in 2006 and released in 2011. At that time, it was rather uncommon for large tea factories to release teas that was produced years ago. Usually large factories sell new tea. But since then, there seem to be more and more young-aged-teas released by large factories. Why is that? I think the following factors play a role (and there might be more factors...):

1. Many factories have unsold teas during the chaos from late 2007 to 2008, and if they could (financially manage it,) they would rather hold the tea till market got better. And the market got better after 2009.

2. Sometimes a tea doesn't taste good at certain stage, and a savvy manufacture would wait till it taste better and then released it to market. This rarely happened a decade ago, when many puerh drinkers in mainland China drank new tea only. But now it makes more sense to both manufacture and tea drinker to have young-aged-tea released.

3. In the puerh world, people are telling each other, "the older, the better..." But a lot of young teas are not that palatable. Then sometimes when you buy a new tea, you would feel you are buying a promise, which may or may not be fulfilled. Therefore, selling young-aged-tea is one way for a manufacture to demonstrate its quality.

4. Somehow, with the rapid increase of tea prices for both raw materials and compressed products, in recent years, very often, young-aged-teas are not much more expensive than new teas (ironically...). So some manufactures would choose to use their storage more and buy less new harvest, and some tea drinkers would choose to buy some aged tea instead of new tea.

The tea overall looks quite young. Although I got it from a Guangzhou dealer, I would assume the tea was stored in Yunnan before its release.

It tastes quite young and you would need to be careful brewing it in order to get the aroma without too much bitterness and astringency. But the tea has started to taste interesting - by interesting, I mean, it's not as "straightforward" as new tea. Its aroma seems to change in your mouth and circulate in your mouth with twists and turns, and the aftertaste is quite long.

The tea was released at the same time with another 2006 shu cake which is called "sweet aroma". I had a sample of that one and thought it was pretty good - not stinky, tastes good, that's basically my modest standards for shu.

Finally, a little story about Madam Du (or, in Chinese, 杜老太太), the owner of Lan Cang Ancient Tea factory. She is a legendary figure in puerh world. She took over the previously state-owned Lan Cang Jing Mai Factory in 1998, when the factory was at the rim of bankruptcy. She made it one of the largest and most reputable puerh factory within 10 years. It is also one of the factories that own most ancient tea plantations and biggest aged tea collections. There are many big stories to tell about Madam Du, but here is a little story that I've found interesting. In a public interview, when asked how she would distinguish teas from different mountains, different villages and different manufactures. Her answer was short and simple, "...sometimes it's easy, but you can't expect me to be able to tell every single time." And as a 60-year-old tea guru who started her tea career at the age of 16, she said it naturally and confidently.

I particularly like this little story, because, ironically, this kind of honest yet confident answers are not commonly seen in puerh world. I have no problem saying "I can't" because I'm nobody in puerh world and I can't do most of the things that puerh professionals do anyway. Madam Du has no problem saying "I can't" because she is at the top of puerh world, and she could be confident that what she doesn't know, most people don't know either. But you can imagine, between my level and Madam Du's level, there are numerous tea professionals and tea experts who know fairly well about tea, yet don't want to admit what they don't know or what they are not sure of. Since I read Chinese tea books sometimes, and in recent years so many of them have been published, I have to say, some Chinese tea books (and especially puerh books...) are rather funny... funny in a way that makes me feel that not only the author doesn't know what he is talking about, but also he is somewhat very sure what he said is absolute truth. Fooling oneself is always worse than fooling others :-p There aren't many English language tea books yet, and the few I've read are pretty good and sincerely written. Let's not expect any "funny" type of tea books in English language in the years to come.

It's not hard to understand that tea, as a biological product, is extremely complex. It shouldn't be surprising that even the most knowledgeable people won't know everything, and not all the subtle differences between teas can be discerned by human organs. But in puerh world and in business world, a lot of people are reluctant to say "I can't" or "I don't know", and over-confident to give theories that are not necessarily well tested. In this sense, Madam Du is a role model, not as a "know-it-all", but as one who knows better than most people and knows what she doesn't know.