Back in the saddle?

Here at Dryad Tea we're trying to do "all of the things" and sometimes things fall between the cracks. Like this blog.
See, Dryad Tea is really about 1.5 people. You have Rubiee, who creates all the blends, responds to emails, photos all the product, uploads the product, packs the orders, works on all the extra projects... and more. She does everything Dryad, all the time.

Then you have TeaMonkey, he works on facebook posts if Rubiee doesn't beat him to it. He also helps where he can, but works a full time job. He helps with a lot of the order packing.

Delrein is another part-time helper that has a full time job. He helps packing orders and packing tea when he can. He's also seen most often working Dryad shows.

That is the base and core of Dryad. It's worked with very few hiccups so far. Lots of learning experiences too. We here are Dryad Tea HQ are also very lucky to have a secondary support system:

Dame Ursula takes care of all of our Tea Duelling (and is amazing at it) she can also be seen working at shows.

Leigh is a booth bunny, she rocks at her job. She's one of the main line booth workers with Del.

Puck helps with a lot of the tea packing. The Kickstarter? He helped with that too. He's also been known to help with orders, and pretty much anything Rubiee needs.

This is our support system, this is how the world of Dryad Tea works. Support systems are incredibly important to have. They make sure that you're encouraged, and they catch you if you fall. In Rubiee's case the support system is also there to make sure that she doesn't work herself sick. Operating hours? What are those? She seems to think she can respond to emails at any and all hours of the day and often her support system *gently* encourages her to take some time to herself. She's learning.
All of us are working on getting better at a lot of things as a core group, and it's amazing to have such great people to help!

So the question is; Who's your support system?

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.

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

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.

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!

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.  


Link to the Huffington Post article:

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.