getting our hands messy in the compost

Harder Not Smarter: Compost Tea

Harder Not Smarter

Hard work is in the fabric of Piper & Leaf. It’s what sets our teas apart. We could save a lot of money and labor if we stopped working with local farmers to obtain our fresh produce and stopped processing the ingredients ourselves. Purchasing American made glass mason jars and not moving to mass production and mass distribution are definitely not the preferred way of doing things these days.

But hard work is good for our souls. As Dad always said, it builds character. Sometimes harder is smarter. We can lose so much in the process when we put too much focus on minimizing effort and maximizing results.  

 

A van-load of hand plucked beets, ready to process and dry.

Here we are after a full morning harvesting beets. Now its off to our production kitchens to get washed, shredded, and dried. We use locally grown beets to add color to some of our tea blends.

 

This year, as part of our celebration of 10 years of tea, we are going to be telling some of the stories of how Piper and Leaf has done things the “harder” way... from boot strapping it from day one instead of taking on investors, to moving production facilities 6 times.

Hopefully, you will enjoy these stories and they will inspire you to appreciate some of the harder things in your life.

 

we got our hands full (of compost)

 

Compost Tea

We didn’t start out to make tea. When Connor said that he wanted to start a fun family project selling something at a Farmer’s Market Caleb and I put on our thinking caps.

We owned a landscape company at the time so the solution was soon clear to us. There was a giant pile of composting leaves (from big leaf cleanups) in the front of our property, so the obvious answer was selling compost! People could take home buckets of fresh black compost to nourish their gardens.  

Connor was on board with the idea but said he also wanted to sell something to drink in a mason jar. Caleb and I had been playing around with tea blends so we immediately said, “great, we’ll sell tea too.” Wait! And, genius idea, we could sell compost tea for plants as well, to connect the two products through the word tea.  

 

compost at our first farmers market

 

 

Compost tea was (we were soon to find out) an almost unheard-of product in the sunny south at the time. People were doing it on the west coast (where Connor had just come from) but unless you were a farming enthusiast like Caleb, you probably had never heard of the stuff in Alabama. 

Not familiar with compost tea? Simply put, compost tea is exactly what it sounds like, compost steeped in water. Techniques will vary but the results are the same. The process extracts all the beneficial nutrients found in compost into a concentrated brew, providing an all natural fertilizer and pest prevention for your plants! (Interested in learning more about compost tea? Check out some of these resources from Gardeners Supply Company, Better Homes & Gardens, and HGTV).

 

ready to get messy (with compost)

 

The first night at market we sold a few buckets and jugs of compost and compost tea (to curious farmers who were also vendors), but we sold OUT of tea! So, we brought less compost and double the tea the next week.

Week 2 we sold about the same amount of compost, and we SOLD OUT of tea!

By week three when we doubled the tea again AND SOLD OUT, and a local news anchor tried to buy a gallon of compost tea to drink – we started to rethink our decisions to sell the two different lines of products side by side.

When local farmers started to offer to buy our entire pile of compost we realized that the compost business had come to an end and the tea was just taking off. We grabbed on to the tails of tea and held on for the wild ride to come!  

And by the way… unless you have acres and acres of compost don’t try to start a compost business. You’ll be sold out before you’ve barely started  😊 

Interested in learning more about our journey into tea? Check out our story!

 

A close up shot of our Non-GMO, Plant Based Tea Bags

 Our tea bag sachets are made with all natural materials. 100% compostable!

 

Compostable Tea Bags

Tea is a wonderful organic material to add into your compost, but did you know that you can also compost our tea bag sachets as well? Unfortunately, so many of the tea bag sachets in the industry are made with non-organic materials, loaded with microplastics.

At Piper & Leaf, we bag our tea with an all natural, non-GMO Sugar Cane material, i.e. no microplastics! Our sachets are fully compostable!

When you are finished with a tea bag sachet, simply set it aside to cool down and then incorporate the sachet into your compost. (You can do the same with loose leaf tea and coffee grounds too!)

Back to blog
  • A handful of fresh Alabama blueberries ready to be dried and blended into Piper and Leaf's green tea blend, Blueberry Jubilee

    Stories Behind the Blend: Blueberry Jubilee

    Back in the summer of 2013, we kicked things off with nothing but a bit of tea and a heap of compost. Our humble beginning blossomed into what you now know...

    Stories Behind the Blend: Blueberry Jubilee

    Back in the summer of 2013, we kicked things off with nothing but a bit of tea and a heap of compost. Our humble beginning blossomed into what you now know...

  • Hands full of Piper & Leaf loose leaf tea

    After Brewing: Tea Compost

    Today we are going to go back to our roots a bit and talk about tea compost. For those of you who may not know, Piper and Leaf started out...

    After Brewing: Tea Compost

    Today we are going to go back to our roots a bit and talk about tea compost. For those of you who may not know, Piper and Leaf started out...

  • To Infini-Tea and Beyond: Our Commitment to Space

    To Infini-Tea and Beyond: Our Commitment to Space

    It is no secret that, over the years, we have curated quite the portfolio of space and rocket-themed apparel, drinkware, and even stickers! If you haven’t seen our latest rocket...

    To Infini-Tea and Beyond: Our Commitment to Space

    It is no secret that, over the years, we have curated quite the portfolio of space and rocket-themed apparel, drinkware, and even stickers! If you haven’t seen our latest rocket...

1 of 3