I’m from the South, and being from the South means I am a lover, yet a tough critic, when it comes to tea. However, another great discovery at EmporiYUM this year was Runningbyrd Tea Company and they did not disappoint. I bought two jars, one Shenandoah Smoke and one District Breakfast and I’ve been a customer ever since (I pick up at least two every time I go to Cava Mezze, which is a lot). I was able to catch up with Benjamin Byrd, founder and owner of Runningbyrd Tea Co. Here is a little bit more about the man behind the brew.
What is typical day in the life of Ben?
Someone is in the kitchen early in the morning to start the kettle, and I usually arrive at lunch and work the late shift till midnight. We take Saturday off, generally.
What/Who influences you the most?
I try to listen to top people in other fields, Casey Neistat, Bill Burr, etc. Anyone who had a passion and took a chance on realizing it, but then worked hard to make that dream a reality is interesting to me. I stay far away from formulaic business school advice.
I need to relax, you’ll find me…
Sometimes after deliveries, I steal an afternoon to kayak on the Potomac. I also love to winter camp in National Parks, when the tourists are gone. On a daily basis, if I can find a porch or a bench on which to share a story and some tea, that’s a good day.
What is the hardest part about being a small business owner?
Right now, the hardest part about being a business owner is losing touch with friends and family. Plus, I end up only talking to other business owners on a daily basis, so my conversations become very business-oriented and boring.
What is best part about being a small business owner?
I like being able to create my own company holidays, so we can work on worthless holidays like President’s day, but take off the first weekend of March Madness or Opening Day in baseball.
What advice do you have for a new entrepreneur?
I would advise any new entrepreneur to have patience. Many of the best companies took years to build momentum.
If you couldn’t brew tea, what would you be doing with your life?
I will never not brew tea. There will always be Runningbyrd tea, even without the company.
His philosophy on tea making, according to their website, shows just how much he loves what he does, “Runningbyrd Tea is not just about flavor or refreshment. Runningbyrd Tea is about the experience of drinking a cool glass of tea on a hot day. It is about the memories we associate with iced tea. Runningbyrd Tea is about sitting on your front porch listening to the stories of friends and family. It is about sharing a glass of tea with your grandfather, poured from a carafe he always kept full. It is about creating your own stories, steeping your life with the flavor of your travels and experiences. Because of this focus, each Runningbyrd creation comes with a story, in the grand tradition of the storytelling south, so that no matter who you are with when drinking your tea, you have a companion.”
Here are a few places you’ll find Runningbyrd Tea in DC. Check out there website for more locations.