Thursday, April 24, 2008

Useful Things You Can Do With Tea

Give me compost!

G'day folks!

Today has me gettin' my blog on about random and useful tidbits about tea that involve anything but drinking it. As it is a natural plant with numerous health benefits, of course there any number of things that we can be doing with our tea leaves that are useful around the house, office, garden, etc. Oh, joyous rapture!

Now if any of you are like me, there are many occasions where you have the best intentions of finishing your tea, but simply don't seal the deal before what's left at the bottom of your cup or pot is cold and un-drinkable. Next time this happens, don't toss it down the drain...instead, water your plants with it. At our downtown store, we have a silver can that we put infuser baskets of tea leaves into, and before long there is a good inch of tea water at the bottom. I add some cold water to it and feed it to our bamboo plants and ficus tree. The natural compounds from the tea leaf are great for your houseplants. Ideally, you should use your re-steeped tea so that there isn't any caffeine in it, because if you give caffeine to your houseplants (especially after midnight) then, as we all know, they will grow into cranky, fiendish things that overtake your living room and demand fried chicken and Sunkist.

Your houseplant on caffeine.

Another great use for your used tea leaves is composting. I touched on this momentarily last week in my Cradle-to-Cradle masterpiece (ha ha). Tea leaves, coffee grinds, fruit peels...basically anything "natural," ie, stay away from stuff with preservatives, corn syrup, flavorings, etc. These can all be pitched into a bucket for use as mulch in your garden. Our store currently donates all its compostables to a local who takes them to his home garden in Eldorado Springs and turns them into fertilizer for his insanely large fruit tree and veggie garden.

You can also use teabags or tea compresses on swollen, puffy eyes. The antioxidants in the tea will help reduce these symptoms. That being said, these are also useful on skin irritations, sunburn, bug bites, and acne. If you are feeling particularly swanky, you can add a sachet or teabag of rose or jasmine (or the TeaSpot's Meditative Mind!) to your bathwater, and rest assured you will come out smelling better than you went in. I also just read that you can boil two cups of strong black tea, let it cool, pour into a spray bottle and spray all over for a natural spray tan. I will be off to Costa Rica in a week and a half, so the good news is with one product (glorious, glorious tea!) I can pre-tan, treat bug bites and the inevitable sunburn I will get! Hooray!

He should really try some tea on that.

Since tea can be used as a dye (as we learned from above mention of spray tanning), it can also be used to dye fabrics and hair. So you can give your white underoos an aged look while reversing the aged look of your graying hair. Hot damn! The tannins in black tea (or any tea) are great for cleaning glass as well. This is a great idea, considering it can reduce the use of the harsh chemical ammonia that is found in most glass cleaners.

Another idea that I have always wanted to try but have not yet is making ice cube trays out of tea; that way, when you make iced tea and add your ice, you aren't watering it down. Nice! We will have more on iced tea later in the summer when things really get toasty around here.

If anyone has any other random uses for tea leaves or tea water, let me know!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Cradle to Cradle

The TeaSpot is currently working on ways to make our company more environmentally friendly. In a town that is blinded with green propanganda and progressive ideologies on how companies and individuals can help save the planet, you would think this would be relatively simple. Despite our green technicolor schemes, this is definitely a much bigger project than anticipated! I recently finished a book called Cradle to Cradle, written by William McDonough (an architect) and Michael Braungart (a chemist), who explain that our world's economic system, since the industrial revolution, supports a cradle-to-grave approach. That is, when something that serves its purpose is finished (for example, your computer or TV or couch), it too is finished, and usually ends up in landfill or in a burning pile of garbage somewhere in Africa. They propose a cradle-to-cradle approach, which utilizes patterns found in nature to replicate a circular, ecologically friendly use of industry. For example, planting a garden on your roof creates natural insulation while releasing ozone-friendly oxygen into the air. Perhaps one of the most sobering things I read in this book is the concept that recycling isn't always the environmentally friendly action we think it is. The plastic in some materials was never meant to be downcycled, which means that in some instances, a plastic that is melted down with the intention of recycling, can actually change the chemical structure of said plastic into something that actually releases toxic gases or chemicals. So companies that are using recycled plastic to make clothing, while having the most noble of intentions, could actually be placing something harmful or toxic next to your skin. Oh, the tangled web we have woven! In any case, the point is that there are any number of things we can be doing to alter our procedures and choices for a more sustainable planet.

So what is the TeaSpot's downtown location going to do about it?

*We are currently working on developing a compostable to-go cup. Of course, this means we will also have to implement a way of making sure that a large quantity of those cups actually makes it into a compost bin! Something compostable that goes into the trash or recycling pretty much eliminates its purpose altogether.

*We will be turning our fountain (though we will certainly miss the calming sound of running water!) into a planter full of oxygen-releasing ivys and foliage.

*We can feed our compost to our plants.

*We will be looking into how to replace our harsh dishwashing chemicals with environmentally friendly alternatives.

*We will even make small changes like bulk sugar dispensers rather than paper-wasting individual sugar packets.

*We are working with a food bank to distribute any un-sellable, leftover food to the homeless or hungry.

*We are also working to eliminate the need to order our products from distributors across the country, and purchase from local vendors whenever possible.

*We will continue to recycle bottles, plastic, and paper as much as possible.

*We will offer a discount to any customer that comes in with their own travel to-go mug.

If anyone has any suggestions on ways we can improve our operations to reduce waste, then by all means let us know! We want to do everything in our power to become a legitimate, zero waste company rather than just utilize clever marketing to make it look like we are!
Long live (we hope) the planet!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Show me Your O Face!

Hooray! Our sweet, sweet Automatic Teapot has graced the pages of the May issue of O Magazine! Which, for those of you who have been living under a rock in recent past, is Oprah's magazine. Our new, key lime Teapot got a spotlight on "The O List," a list of things that Oprah thinks are downright smashing. I mean come on, if Oprah likes it, it has to be wonderful and awesome and full of rainbows, right? Right! In any case, grab the mag off the newsstand and take a look, or go online once they upload the new issue at:

The Automatic Teapot is a 20-ounce stoneware teapot that automatically steeps your tea, without using batteries or electricity. The infuser basket doubles as a counterweight, an amazing feat of mechanical engineering thanks to TeaSpot Founder Maria Uspenski, which is triggered to turn over once the timer finishes. This means you can literally set the timer and carry on doing whatever is was you were doing; whether you were teaching your kid to ride a bike, watching Return of the Jedi (again), or voraciously researching O Magazine's average monthly circulation numbers. The dripless spout and generously sized handle truly make loose-leaf tea-time an easy endeavor. Check out our website for more info at!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Take a Moment

Hello Team!

Today is a day to recognize the importance of slowing down and taking time out to enjoy the little things. According to the American Institute of Stress (how's that for a day job?!), at least half of all Americans are concerned about stress levels in their everyday lives. Considering what a roving pack of cell-phone carrying, laptop toting, errand-running, work-too-much-ing go-getters many of us have been and are becoming, it's no surprise that we inevitably feel that life is going by waaay too fast. For example, can anyone tell me how the hell it is April already? How did this happen?! It's no mystery anymore that stress also has a negative impact on our mental and physical health. Can you say "cardiac infarction?" It is time that we, as a society, place more importance on our personal health over our jobs. This doesn't mean you should go to work tomorrow and quit, but there are many small steps one can take to show a little self-devotion.

One wonderful way to take a small load off is to sit the hell down for 10 minutes and enjoy a pot of tea. While I wouldn't personally recommend it, you could even get some work done at the same time, but I find that my own mental health is instantly smoothed over when I can sit with my tea and read a magazine or surf the web for completely inane information that requires no significant mental activity. You know, like cruising through best of or reading the latest mindblowing headlines at When I am feeling particularly stressed about anything, I brew up a cup of our Meditative Mind. Perhaps it is the suggestive nature of its name, but the relaxing scent and soothing taste do wonders for my nerves when they are frayed like the open ends of a torn cable wire. Like they were the other day when I caught someone stealing tips from the tip jar.

Whether you drink tea, take a 5-minute walk, meditate, take a lunch break without your cell phone, exercise, read, or throw stones into a lake, it is important to remember that you must take time for yourself to do whatever it is that makes you a happier, healthier person. Just like the glorious line from the 1991 film classic (ha), What About Bob, we must take "baby steps to one o'clock!"