As it turns out, my worries back in March that I had set too ambitious a goal for the Soft Reopen were true. This does not change the fact that May ended up feeling rather glorious.
Short version of May: I reopened the shop, there were some proper tea reintroductions, as well as a new tea release; there were naming posts and teas that finally received names; the Discord server was created and opened up to Tea of the Month Club humans and Patrons; the April Tea of the Month Club choice was explained; and, to the shock of everyone (including me) I took an actual proper day off.
More details follow.
The soft reopening was not what I had wanted it to be. However, the deeper I got into the work of it, the more I realized that I had set an impossible task for myself. Especially as I am doing a little bit better with things like the amount of time I spend asleep. There’s a sizable amount of work that goes into getting a tea released “properly” and even giving myself a pass on having all the introductory posts rewritten, and photos taken, there was still too much.
I am actually still working on getting all of the teas that were on the initial list into the shop. Technically I’m down to the last two, but I’ve added a couple along the way. Full pictures of all the options are still a work in progress. Even the teas that had them before are requiring new photo shoots, due to the change in logo and labeling. I will be updating listings as I get the photos taken, but some of that is going to depend on how swiftly the Sale Bin empties out. Any help you feel like giving with that would be much appreciated.
The process has been both hopeful and a bit intimidating. I hadn’t really thought about how many teas I had created over the years until I had to confront them as a list of tasks.
Once I have the initial list (plus the extras) back in the shop, the protocol will go back to being no more than 1 complete release of an old tea and 1 full release of a new tea per week. I will probably continue to put older teas up without the treatment I prefer, just to allow access to them again, but it will be a slow process.
As I know I’ve said several times before, if there are particular teas you want or miss, please let me know. The complete catalog is almost distressingly long, and specific requests will be helpful in facing it.
The new release was LV-426, which has swiftly become one of my favourite basic black tea blends. It is probably going to be showing up with fair frequency in the “brought to you by” lists. Especially as I have already emptied a latch-tin of it.
2-116 recently settled in as Old and Kind, inspired by a quote from Doctor Who, and will thus be added to the relatively long list of Whovian teas. It will also upset the balance in the gift sets, which means further down the line I will need to create another Whovian black tea and probably another one that does not have caffeine.
3-150 became Sorry I Stabbed You, which spawned my first intentional sequel tea: Sorry I Stabbed You… Again. There is a story behind that, but it will either come out in June’s post or with the tea release. The reason I call it a sequel tea rather than a variant is that a variant is generally something like “Look, it has a decaffeinated version!” The sequel is a tea that is definitely connected, but where the recipe is distinctly different.
In other tea news there is a list of new teas where their release is primarily being held up by needing photos. Orange Tigers, The Collie Has Spoken, Lost in the Mists, Missing Piece, The Chosen Tea, Face the Day, 7-341 and Traveller’s Porridge are all on this list. As per my commentary above about older teas getting a full release, a lot of the timing on this comes down to space and the Sale Bin.
April’s Tea of the Month Club and the theme for April were explained in this post and I am hoping to get the same done for May over the weekend. This is especially important as next week should be when June’s standard selection heads out. I am still accepting Standard Tea of the Month Club subscribers if you are interested in signing up.
The next step for the Discord server is to invite those of you who subscribe to this newsletter. I’m still not quite ready to open it up completely, but I am getting more comfortable with the various nuts and bolts of it. I am also deeply grateful to the professional (and friend) who has made it a place that I think will be comfortable for those who come to join my weird little tea community and is going to be far less painful than I had expected to administrate. Granted, I am not doing that alone, and I have been told by several people that I will eventually need to pick some more moderators. This is another thing where, if you’d be interested in helping, please let me know. Not likely to be anything I act on for a while yet, but it would be good to have some options in my back pocket, as it were.
There were a couple of interesting realizations/thought processes that came up over the course of the last month or so that I wanted to speak to.
The first is that one of the newer additions to my WordPress build is a testimonials option. This is a method by which I can add things that people have said about the teas and have them be visible in various places on the site, rotating at random, or by some other sorting method that I choose.
Considering this option ran me face first into an issue I have had for some time. One of the things that I have been teased about in a number of different venues is that my concept of consent can be a bit rigid and potentially more all encompassing than most people might expect. Twice I have been told that I must be the politest person on Twitter because I ask before transferring Twitter things to other platforms. I have also had someone thank me for asking, so it washes in my head, as far as the appropriateness of my intensity regarding consent.
This eccentricity means I run into an issue with using feedback and reviews on the teas that come to me privately. I actually have folders and lists and a spreadsheet of Etsy reviews, from when I was still selling on Etsy trying to track which clients I had asked for permission to utilize the things they had said.
Long story short, I guess, I need to come up with a framework moving forward. I don’t feel comfortable assuming blanket consent, so, for the moment I would deeply appreciate it if permission could be granted either when a tea is spoken of, or just generally. You could almost think of it as releasing me from the strictures of an oath sworn too broadly.
The other large-scale realization had to do with an old half-suggestion/half-challenge from one of my earliest Tea Friends on Twitter. He said that he could see me writing stories where the ingredients in the teas were characters. This sounded like a fantastic idea, and some of the ingredient-characters started to form almost immediately, based around one of my most recent creations at that time. I ended up damming the idea off because I wanted to have visual representations of the characters as I created them, to use as the foundation point for notes on who they were, how they thought, and how they got on with other characters. (Some of that, of course, would be based on how the actual tastes interact – which would add an interesting set of sureties for the stories themselves.) Unfortunately, I can’t draw. Ink test scribbles aside, it is not a skill I have, nor do I currently have the time to see if I could grow it.
The intention, for years now, has been to try to find an artist to work with. Potentially to the point of creating the tales with images and words – in a webcomic or something similar.
I’d put the idea on a back burner for a list of reasons, one of which was that I felt like I was missing some sort of intrinsic realization for moving forward with it at all. I think I finally had the revelation that was that missing piece. The foundational teas could be places or themes. So maybe Baker Street Blend teas hearken to Doyle’s stories – or maybe they happen in a place with a Victorian Steampunk feel or maybe they are all mysteries.
Thinking about that possibility gave the idea new life. Not sure where I’m going to go with it yet, but it finally felt like something I could speak about in a more concrete fashion.
Being able to do so is a sizable brain happiness. I do have real estate in my imagination taken up with these half-born characters and worlds.
I’m going to end on a positive note, that fits in with May’s theme of reclamation. My god-nephew worries about me, a lot. He thinks I need more time off. He’s probably not wrong. My brain argues with fun and rest and self-care despite all the work I’ve put in on fixing some of that damage. He convinced me to take a proper day off. This day off involved starting a new play-through of the original Kingdom Hearts. That game series, alongside the one which I feel it is kind of a sequel to, Final Fantasy – has had a special place in my heart and brain for a long time.
Playing it here, anew, helped begin some healing.
And it was fun.
There was laughter and humour and the 10000 hours he’s put in on video games helped with a sticky boss my prone to dislocating hands had issues with.
I hope there were similar moments of enjoyment, play, relaxation, and camaraderie for you over the course of this past month.
We all deserve a bit of peace.
Brought to you by: Eureka: Smoky Monkey, 10-480, Gift of the Gloaming, St. John’s Verity, Trifecta South Valley, Sorry I Stabbed You Again, LV-426 – and the Number 2.