Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The State of Dryad 2013 - Announcements

Just a few "announcements" for all of Dryad Tea's amazing fans and customers:

The following teas are going online only as of January 1st 2014: Dryad, Exodus, Kelpie, Maid in Bedlam, Paradise Lost and Shadow Grove. (If you make special arrangements we can always bring them for your order at a show.)

Also, as of January 1st, 2014 we will be raising our prices. This is something that we have fought against doing for the past year and a half, but supply costs are increasing and in order to keep the business in business (to get you the teas you love!) we are going to have to increase our prices as well. 1oz of tea will go to $6 and samples will be $2.50.

We will also be offering pre-orders of all of our SJ Tucker-inspired teas. After all of the Kickstarter rewards go out we will be announcing pre-orders on our facebook and newsletter. Pre-orders will include either an ounce or a sample (depend on which level you pick) of each of the teas. If you do not get in on the pre-order we are releasing in two volleys, so you will have to wait until February for all 19 of the blends to go live.  

Thank you all for your support through 2013, we are super excited for an amazing 2014!!!

Dryad Tea.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Inspiration: Count Cisco's Earl Grey Tea

Count Cisco's Earl Grey

Do you ever come across an Earl Grey and think to yourself that it smells... stale? I have too. A good Earl Grey seems to be something that's hard to find, which is weird considering it's one of the most popular black teas.

I spent a number of months researching, tasting, blending, banging my head against walls... and then I stumbled into this.

Named after the character of one Mr. M. Gomez, this is a super fresh Earl Grey blend that I am rather happy with. Have you tried it? What do you think?

On Etsy

On our Website

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Facebook and the Decline of Small Business

As I was eating breakfast this morning, and idly flipping through Facebook on my iPad, a disturbing article popped up from a couple of different pages that I follow.

THIS ARTICLE, posted by the UK based site "Business 2 Community" outlines that a recently leaked slide deck from the Facebook offices indicates that pages - such as non-profits, fan-pages, and even our beloved SMALL BUSINESS will slowly see our visibility in user feeds trimmed down, unless we start to shell out the cash to bump that up.

As of this writing, Dryad Tea is hovering at about 1,250 fans on Facebook.  I watch our posts, and see who we reach, and just how much people interact with our content.  Based on these numbers, we try to post more of what we see that people interact with the most.  But a disturbing trend has come up that our posts have been seen by fewer and fewer people.

If we say that the average Facebook user has 130 friends (based on THIS) and that each one of our fans comments on a single post made by us, that comment should appear in the feeds of their friends.  Meaning that a single post from Dryad Tea has an average possibility of reaching 162,500 people.

That is quite the impact, right?

Not so much.  Our posts, on average REACH about 200-300 people.  That is LESS THAN 1% of how many people that potentially COULD see our posts.  And considering that Facebook has over a BILLION active accounts - well, we are pretty well just a drop in the teacup.

As a small business, with none of us working at this full time, we really don't have the availability to pay for advertising.  To put it into perspective, Dryad Tea posts every single day of the week, on average about twice per day.  In the last year we have only paid for advertising a handful of times, right around the major shopping times, or as we were working on our Kickstarter campaigns.  The amount of traffic that we saw during those times was, overall, not all that more significant than our organic traffic - posts that we hadn't paid for.  But now, we are going to be pushed into paying for ANY traffic at all?  That is a low blow.  We just can't afford to do it.  

The people that work for us, those crazy folks you see at shows trying to get you to buy our tea, do this for free.  Heck, even the boss doesn't bring home money from this.  The business pays for itself, but not much more.  Every so often we get Chinese food for lunch, but otherwise, we help so that we can EVENTUALLY start to do this full time.

And now Facebook wants to push us back down, because we don't line their pockets.  Our ability to REALLY connect with our fans, our customers, and the people who are true FRIENDS of our business - that ability is going to be limited, and all but cut off, because we just can't afford to push that visibility up.

With that in mind - We will still be using Facebook, of course, but we want you to REALLY have access to our company.  We want to interact with our fans and friends.

You can find us here, of course.
And if you head over to the DRYAD TEA WEBSITE you can access all of our shops over there too!

Thank you, to everyone for helping us with this dream.  As we continue to grow - and believe me, this year has been one of exponential growth for us - we will try to funnel some money into keeping our page visible on Facebook, but until we get a little bigger and start generating some more sales, it might seem quiet over there.

The best way that you can help us?  Tell your friends about Dryad Tea, give it as a gift, horde it like a dragon, share this post, share ANY post.  Most importantly, though - Believe in Small Businesses, because without that belief and support, we wouldn't have gotten this far.

~The Dryad Team

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Ritual, Reflection, and Mindfulness

When I speak of "Ritual" I want to be clear that I am not thinking of a bunch of people walking around in bath robes carrying candles.  Or stone rooms filled with smoke, and evil eyes peering out of dark corners.

When I talk about something being "Ritual" I mean, very clearly, that one is doing something with clear intent, and a full presence in the moment, and then continuing that sort of practice and mindfulness.  I don't want to confuse this with meditation, as I wrote about previously.  Though the concept that I am talking about is similar in very many ways.  In point of fact, I think that they are parallel ideas.

If you recall my meditation writing, you will see that I talk about being FULLY present in the moment, and taking the time to clear your mind of everything else, even in the midst of chaos and the pressures of living a modern life.

The importance of ritual is significant in many ways in our culture.  Large events in our lives are deeply steeped in the idea that things should be a VERY certain way.  The "White Wedding" is the largest one in our culture.  But think over to yourself, and your daily life, because even that is steeped in much smaller rituals.  Your drive into work is a ritual.  You take the same road to work EVERY day - you don't think about it, you just do it, because that is just the way you go.  If you take a different route, it just feels strange.  The same with bucking larger rituals.  There is a reason behind this.

Ritual is comfortable.

We find comfort in the familiar way that something happens, or the way we eel when listening to a familiar piece of music, or that hot cup of soup on a cold day when you are feeling particularly crummy.

Ritual ideas are comfortable and easy, and they don't require thought.

Now, let's circle back to our morning meditation while we have a cuppa.  

Have you been meditating while making your tea?  

Have you started doing it every morning?

Have you found yourself just becoming mentally silent while you make your tea in the morning?  How about while making tea throughout the rest of the day?  Because THAT is the point, in the end.

Meditative action begets ritual action, which in turn begets further meditative action.  

What I mean by this is that, as you make your cup in the morning, and just clear your head of all of the nonsense rolling about inside of it, you will start to carry that mental clearing-out over to EVERY time you make your cup of tea.  Soon enough your 6 AM tea and mental break will also become your 9 AM tea and mental break too.  At some point your Tea will become your Clarity of Mind.

It's actually pretty cool how that happens.  At some point the tea becomes the meditation.  And the meditation becomes the ritual.  And we take comfort in the ritual, ergo we take comfort in the tea.  It's circular, for sure, but I don' think that is a bad thing.  Especially when that circle includes tea.

How about a different view on this!

When I am feeling sick, I take time and have a cup of spiced tea with honey and lemon.  That provides a very high degree of physical comfort, as well as it takes a moment to drag me out of my misery of being sick, and into a place of emotional comfort, because the ritual, the habit, of making that cup of tea, is associated in my life with the eventual improvement of my health.

I want you, dear reader, to take a moment and think on your cup of tea, and look at it as not only your delicious and hot moment of personal reflection, but also as your gateway to future moments where you can find comfort and peace in our amazingly fast paced world.

Monday, September 23, 2013

The Kickstarter Process

A lot of you have heard of Kickstarter. A great platform for what they call "crowd-funding". Basically, if you have an amazing idea and need funding to create thing epic thing... Kickstarter is for you.

Well I wanted to share the Kickstarter process that Dryad Tea goes through in order to create our tea-based Kickstarters. 
First, you dream up the plan. In Dryad Tea's case, it's a line of teas. I do a ton of research, try to figure out how many teas, what the inspiration is, how I can blend them, what my costs are going to be, what I can offer for rewards etc. I write all of this down.
Then I start working on what I want to say in the video. Videos take me forever, I'm not going to lie. Often times one of the Dryad Tea Pups will end up barking in the middle of the video, or I sneeze, or I space what I'm saying. I try to always have a bullet point note on the side of my laptop when I'm recording the video so I have that tiny reminder. 

After the video, there's the cover photo. I try to find something that is a good photo of my teas. If people see good photos they often look inside for more information.

After that it's a matter of writing up all the levels, all the rewards and making sure that everything actually makes sense. At this point I send it to family and close friends for them to look over. 

The most exciting part (at least until a Kickstarter is funded) in my mind is the moment you push that "go live" button. I feel a small rush every time I do it!

Hopefully this gives you a small view into how Dryad Tea does Kickstarter. If you have any questions feel free to ask in the comments below!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Zen and the art of Making Tea

Howdy folks - TeaMonkey here

I read an article not long ago about meditation, and how the Modern Person just doesn't have enough hours in the day for such a thing.  Between Kids in the morning, Traffic getting to work, 8-12 hours at the office, Traffic coming home from work, Putting dinner on the table, Spending some quality time with the family/spouse, and 4-6 hours of sleep per night, it is no WONDER that you don't have the time to sit down for 20 minutes and clear your head.  Just writing about that makes me feel claustrophobic in the clock.

The article put out by the Huffington Post, offers up that in some traditional cultures (IE: eastern, specifically Japanese) people use their daily actions to meditate.  Taking the time to do SOMETHING with a clear mind, and intent on JUST the action.  Not planning on what is for dinner, or the business meeting that afternoon, and certainly not how they can afford Little Suzy's dance lessons.  Just Being.

So how does this relate to tea?

Set the Wayback Machine, Sherman.  We are off to Feudal Japan.

Imagine yourself sitting in a room - you can see everything going on, but the world doesn't notice that you exist right now.  You are simply a fly on the wall of a VERY well appointed room.

A man enters, very stern faced, from his dress and carriage he is a lord of some sort.  He kneels on a mat at a small table and calmly waits, not moving.

Presently, a woman enters.  She is dressed well for the time, she carries a tray with various cups and pots on it.  She is also silent, as she sets herself to the side of the table and places her accoutrement just so.  A silent bow from her to him, and the Service of Tea begins.

The entire process is silent, except for the gentle rustle of clothes, or the clink of the crockery. As you watch the process, you realize that The Lord hasn't acknowledged anything about the room around him, or the actions in front of him at all. He just sits, with a passive look, his eyes mostly closed, as though dreaming.  The woman, simalarly, seems to be either paying no attention at all to the preparation of the tea, yet doing it flawlessly. Or, her focus is her actions at hand, to the exclusion of everything else. Could two people, from the complete opposite ends of the caste system be doing the exact same thing, simply because of a cup of tea?

Lets come back to right now.

Have you ever gotten so involved in doing something, that you weren't actually thinking about it, but just doing it? And the moment that you finished, the rest of the world came into sharp focus - the colors just a bit brighter, the smells a little bit richer, your mind feels like it was just scrubbed clean? Well done. You just brought me to my point. Meditation is is not avoiding activity so that you can just think of nothing. More, it is a state of COMPLETE activity to the exclusion of worry.

It's time to get practical.

The next time you make a cup of tea, go through the entire process with a complete and whole intention.  Fill your kettle with water, and then stand there and do nothing except watch it boil. Don't think about lunch, or dance lessons, or the football game. Just wait for the water to boil. Then get your cup. Feel yourself reaching for the cup, the weight of it, the texture. That cup is everything you need for this moment. THIS moment. Don't worry about what tea you are going to put in it, that is for the next moment.  RIGHT NOW it is just you and the cup.  Breathe.

Now is the moment for the tea.

Pick a tea.  Any tea.  Especially Dryad Tea.  But any tea will do in a pinch.  Same as with the cup, THIS is the moment for your tea.  The moment for the cup and the water has passed, they are already dealt with, so you don't need to think about them anymore.  Just the tea.  Smell it, feel it, stick the bag up to your ear and LISTEN to it.  Everything in this moment is sbout the tea.  

Now we bring everything together.  Tea in Water in Cup.  Three perfect moments that you have experienced, leading into another.  Wait.  Watch the tea steep into the water.  Don't worry about the dog, or taxes, or about Little Johnny's spelling test.  Right now, it is just you, and the culmination of a series of beautiful moments.  Keep breathing.  

When it is time, take the tea from the water, and enjoy.  Feel the world come into that nice sharp, fresh-scrubbed focus.  You have just taken time to meditate, all while doing something that you would have done anyhow.  


Friday, September 13, 2013

Tea Information: Brewing

Tea Information: Brewing

It has been brought to my attention that some people are not as fluent in loose leaf tea as others. So I have put together a small "cheat sheet" if you will, and it will lead you on the path to great tea!

First off, you need loose leaf tea, a tea spoon (tsp or one purchased from my Etsy), a tea ball (or steeping ball. Again, you can purchase one from me on Etsy if you can't find one locally), a mug and hot water.

Now the fun tidbits:
When making any tea, be sure you begin with good water, if your water tastes really good out of the tap chances are it will make good tea. If there is any noticeable unpleasant taste in the tap water, e.g. Metallic, chlorine, earthiness etc. that taste will come through in the tea.

Different teas require different steeping temperatures. Using the wrong steeping temperature is probably the most common error people make when preparing tea.
You can buy a thermometer to gauge temperature or you can look for visual clues.

Black tea generally should be made with water at a full, rolling boil, 200 - 212 degrees. 3-5 minutes.
Green and white teas should be made with slightly cooler water, between 160 and 180 degrees. The steam should be wafting or gently swirling out of the kettle. 1-3 minutes. If your green tea goes bitter it's either steeped too long or in water that is too hot.
Herbal teas are also typically be made with boiling water, roughly 200 to 212 degrees again. 5-8 minutes or to taste.

If you receive a blend that is a mix of two tea types, I suggest doing a bit of playing around with temps and times. To err on the side of caution I would suggest starting with the lower temperature and time of the two teas as a guide.
I hope that helps! If any of you have questions feel free to ask :)

Monday, September 9, 2013

Custom Blends

In the past, when I was first starting out with Dryad Tea I would often take custom blend requests and over time the demand increased to the point that I just don't have the time to do them for "free" anymore. Besides, a lot of the time I'd create a blend and the person it was for never bought any (I'll admit, that was very discouraging).

So I created the Custom Blend part of the Dryad Tea Website! Yes, there is now a cost but you get 4oz of tea no matter what.

Here I wanted to talk about custom blends and the way that I generally do things. When someone fills out the survey with a custom blend often times I'll then send a followup email asking further questions just so I have an idea of what the customer is looking for.

Then the blending starts.
I take the base ingredients and work out a good tasting ratio. Sometimes this is the hardest part, and there are blends that I will take upwards of a week just to get the ratio perfect. I let the blend sit and mellow for a few days and do the final tasting. If I feel the blend is what the customer is looking for I send another email. If I feel it's off then I start over.

I take custom blends very very seriously, and it is my ultimate goal to make the custom blend requester, the customer happy. 

Friday, September 6, 2013

FAE Team Fantasy Art Exhibition

What a great theme for this month's FAE Exhibit!
FAE is a group of fantasy artists on Etsy who support each others' handmade shops in the effort to bring a bit of magic and whimsy into everyday life. Go take a look at their amazing offerings!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The importance of a great support system.

Hi. My name's Rubiee and I'm a complete loon.

Well, I would be a complete loon if it weren't for the amazing support system of people that I have in my life. Not only have I managed to find amazing friends that support me and keep my head above water when I decide to take on three projects at a time (*cough* seven *cough*) but they are also the people that I trust to help with Dryad Tea.

Some of you may have seen them at shows, or seen their postings on the Dryad Tea Facebook Page...
This is TeaMonkey and Dame Ursula Wiffenpott.

These two are the people that catch me the most when I stumble over the things that I didn't expect, they are the pair that give me inspiration or tell me to sit down and have a drink after a really long day selling tea. I could probably do all of this without them, but I might not be as happy as I usually am!
So here I am, telling you all how very important it is to have a support system in a small business. It keeps you grounded, helps you brainstorm (with more than one brain!) and overall keeps the insanity at bay. Everyone should have one.

The end. 

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Of things and stuff

Hello Blogger-land!

I hope that your summers have been going well? I've been busy working on Kickstarter launches, Kickstarter finishes, and everything else too.
Oh yeah, and I started making pottery.

I'm really enjoying all of the creative things that I'm able to move into. From infuser charms to pottery, I can honestly say there is never a dull moment here!

Dryad Tea is also working on its Holiday line up of shows. So far you can find us at these places:
September 27-29: MALCon (their Facebook)
                        Sheraton Denver Tech Center                        700 S Clinton St. Greenwood Village, CO 80112
October 18-20: Mile High Con
                       Hyatt Regency Hotel – Tech Center
                       7800 E. Tufts Ave. Denver CO
 November 8-10: Colorado Merchandise Mart Country Christmas Gift Show - Booth: G31                        451 E 58th Ave  Denver, CO 80216
                        (Visit their website for a $1 off entry coupon)
November 24: Holiday Tea Party
                        7680 E Arizona Dr, Denver, CO 80231
December 7: Grandview Craft Fair
                        20500 E Arapahoe Rd. Aurora, CO 80016
We're also working on a few more shows to sneak in there and are holing to hear back very soon! At shows we are looking to offer "create your own" gift baskets, pre-made gift baskets, pottery, infusers and charms, honey sticks and of course, tea! We look forward to seeing all of your smiling faces out there!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Inspiration: Blueberry Imp

Blueberry Imp

This tea is very, very blueberry. When I blended it I honestly had no idea what to call it, just that it smelled amazing and I simply had to make a tea out of it. There's a touch of vanilla in the blend as well.

When the magical Imp was brought up to me in conversation the idea just clicked. What about a line of fruit teas named after imps? Well, they are coming. This is only the first!

On Etsy

Monday, July 15, 2013

Tea Duelling 101

Dryad Tea Presents:
Tea Duelling 101
First: Select your favourite tea.  Loose leaf tea is encouraged (Especially Dryad Tea) but we will not mock you  (too much) for opting for bagged tea.

Gather your supplies.  Necessary supplies include: Tea pot, Two Cups, known as Kegs (extra points for saucers, matching or otherwise) and Biscuits (American Tea Duelling Rules strongly suggest use of Pepperidge Farm Chessmen.)
While non-standard Kegs may be allowed under certain "House Rules" the pair of  Kegs must maintain similar volume and depth.  Even though the depth may seem similar, if a Keg is Bigger on the Inside, it shall be (sadly) disallowed.

Kegs may, however, be made of differing material, provided reasonable consistency in size and volume is maintained.

Approved additions to the tea (hereafter known as the Martial Brew) include: Dairy-like substance of choice, Sweetener (Honey is discouraged) and if agreed to by all parties, a judicious nip of alcohol, which makes the Martial Brew to be considered a Toddy.  All aforementioned additions are applied on the basis that they do not overly alter the temperature of the Martial Brew.

The preparation of the Martial Brew is done by the Pot Master.  Likewise, the overseeing of the Duel itself is done by the Tiffin Master.  For reasons of time and personnel, these duties may reside with the same person.

We now await the readiness of the Martial Brew.  
Today we are using the "Rubiee" blend, kindly supplied by our host and sponsor, Dryad Tea.  

Removal of the tea dregs, for presentation of the Martial Brew.

Presentation of the Weapons.
Six biscuits on a charger.  No more.  No less.
The number thou shalt have is six.  Eight is WAY out.
Preparation by the Duellists of their Martial Brew.
Tails not required, but encouraged.

Choose your destiny.  Each Duellist selects one biscuit.  Once you touch a biscuit, you must use it.
No give-backs.  That's just icky.

Prepare thine Weapon for the Dunk.
 Firmly grasp your biscuit between thumb and forefinger only, with the biscuit pointing downward toward the Keg.
This is a proper duel, and the rules of polite biscuit-handling MUST be observed.
Never point a loaded Weapon at your opponent.

Upon the count of three (No more, no less) as issued by the Tiffin Master, Dunk your weapon into your Martial Brew for the count of five.

On successful completion of the five-count, each Duellist shall remove their Weapon from their Keg and, holding it at an angle of your choosing, the combatants proceed into the battle of wits, will, and nerve.
Note that experienced duellists recommend an upright hold for your weapon, though this is not required.  

And now, we wait...

...and wait...

......aaaannnnnddd wait.....
(Read further for acceptable -and not- behaviour during the waiting.) 

...Until finally...

The waiting is done, and the biscuit is Snarfed.  This is known as a Nom.

In order to be declared the victor, you must be the last duellist to CLEANLY Nom your biscuit.

Despite the Clean Nom by our Duellist on the left, the Duellist on the right was the last to cleanly Nom her biscuit, hence she is declared the Victor.

HOWEVER: In a tournament setting, a Clean Nom allows a defeated Duellist to return as a "Wild Card" competitor later in the tournament.

Remember that Manners Always Matter.  Accept your defeat with grace and poise - at least you still have tea.

Devilish Duelling Details
The Many Ways the Cookie Crumbles

During a duel, sometimes tough choices need to be made.
To Nom or Wait to Nom.  That is the Question.

Weather 'tis nobler in the mind, to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous messiness... 

Or by Nomming, end them.

Should you be forced by circumstance into a Dirty Nom, when your biscuit is more on your face and/or person, rather than in your mouth...


BUT! All is not lost.
While you may still be defeated by a Clean Nom, a Dirty Nom is still far superior to the following Biscuit Offences:
The Splash - Whereupon the Biscuit falls into your Keg of Martial Brew.

The Splatter - When the table catches your fallen Biscuit.
Note your opponents look of disdain.

The Splodge - When your Significant Other finds crumbs later because you had a Bodice Biscuit.

The Splash, Splatter or Splodge may be awarded points at the discretion of the Tiffin Master, based on style, reaction, and overall mood of the official.  These points may be used later on to determine placement in Wild Card rounds.
Most Tiffin Masters accept bribes.
Should a competitor suffer an attack of nerves, they my surrender by upending their EMPTY teacup onto their saucer or the table.
Note that in the event of a surrender, the duellist may nominate a Second to take their place on the Table of Honour, or, at the discretion of the Tiffin Master, allow their opponent a hollow victory.
Surrendering duellists may offer a donation to dry cleaning the table covering as a show of good form.

When Tea Duelling Goes Bad
The seedy underbelly of the Tea Duelling world

Bagging - When one Duellist clearly and intentionally delays their Dunk.
If you are found to be a Bagger, the round must begin again.
If you are caught being a Recurrent Bagger, you will forfeit your place at the Table of Honour.
And be denied any more biscuits. 

There shall be no physical interference or tampering with the weapon of  your opponent.
Keep your hands and spoons to yourself.
Don't make me tell your mother.

Utilising ballistic projectiles is a strictly prohibited practise. 


Intimidation of your opponent is most assuredly permitted, provided that no projectiles are ACTUALLY utilised. 



...And poor behaviours are considered high offences against good manners, and are the final word in Bad Form.

 A Note On Coffee and Other Beverages
But Mostly Coffee

Coffee, while a delicious and invigorating beverage similar to tea, is STRICTLY FORBIDDEN from use as the Brew Martial.  
Other prohibited beverages include, but are not limited to: Cocoa, Warm Milk, Ovaltine, Iced Tea, or Water lacking the addition of Tea Leaves.
Chai may be permitted with the approval of all parties.  But you will be mocked.

The consumption of coffee, while no offence offered to the drinker, does not compliment the flavour of the biscuits, and would be more suited to be paired with pirouettes.
Of note, coffee is not a recommended way to ingratiate oneself with "The Ladies".

With the offending beverage removed, the duelling may now commence...