Tea in Tech

noting the Tea in Technology.

Bellabeat’s Leaf: a sigh and a headshake

Bellabeat Leaf
Me and my Leaf

I am drawn to leaves. In patterns on things I love, enjoyed on walks outside, or unfurling in hot water. I saw an ad for Bellabeat’s Leaf activity tracker, and I fell in love. It isn’t plastic. I can wear it in several ways – around my wrist, as a necklace, and clipped to my clothes. Bellabeat is a start-up (Y Combinator, folks), and I’m a sucker for a start-up. And of course, it’s a leaf.

So for me, this is tech that flaunts my love for tea. Sure, it’s a stretch, I understand.

Find their marketing pitch here. Long story short: Pretty for the ladies, tracks steps, sleep, cycles and breathing. And horses. Because horses.

I received my Leaf about a month ago, give or take. I was in the last stage of a second-round release and waited for about a month before I was told it had shipped. Add an additional week after the label was printed in California and the company swore that it had shipped but USPS wasn’t tracking, information appeared in the tracking showing that it had shipped a week later than promised by the company.

The rest of this review pretty much serves as a metaphor for my recent experiences being involved in a start-up. For years I’ve been happily consuming inspiration from technology leaders and visionaries who have set a couple of themes for me and my professional work – transparency being the strongest. Based on the amount of data that is available to just about any person, a company that can’t be transparent will have a hard time building trust and loyalty. I thought most companies had received this message. Not the case.

This small shipping issue was simply a symptom of a bigger problem.

Soon I found out that inactivity alerts and alarms were either not sounding or vibrating so low that they were undetectable. I’d reach out to customer service and receive a “wait 24 hours” message, only to receive a non-answer 3-4 days later. Messages back and forth on Facebook involved bright canned sentences and emoticons. No solutions. A couple weeks went by, and an Android update was sent, which solved my issues with the alarms, but not the inactivity alerts.

But it monitors my steps and sleep all right. It does not monitor breathing, as is advertised. Instead it leads you through breathing exercises initiated by the wearer, and monitors how well you breath along. And I can add in my cycle information, but I wouldn’t call that “tracking” the way it does for steps and sleep (I wondered how that would work. Wonder no more!)

There are simple steps Bellabeat could have taken to keep me as a fan instead of a disgruntled customer.

  1. When the product ships, let me know at that time. Apologize if it’s late. Don’t lie about it.
  2. Answer an email in 48 hours if you say 48 hours. Answering me several days later with a new email address to contact (add an additional 48+ hour wait) is a fail. Period.
  3. If they had said the Leaf tracked steps and sleep, and allowed users to enter cycle information which the app would then use to alert for future cycles, I think that would have been enough for me to purchase it. Tell me the app has breathing exercises I can access any time to stay focused, and I’d think “what a great bonus!” Sold. Done.
  4. Tell us when a product update is happening, and let us know when it’s running late. Tell us what’s in the update, and what’s on the roadmap. Then make it happen.

It all comes down to one word: Transparency. You’re good enough as you are, Bellabeat. Stop beating around the bush (see what I did there? Leaf? Bush? Don’t forget to tip the bartender).

And that’s where I am with start-ups in general. I’m tired of seeing many promise more than what they are. It’s exhausting and disappointing to have to cut through what is real and what is smoke and mirrors. Be what you are. Make sure you can share information on what you do and how you do it, because if you can’t or don’t, someone else will. Someone else will tell your story. Today that someone is me.

Additional accessories are supposed to ship in a week or so for the second-rounders, as a thanks for our patience. I’m not holding my breath. I hope they prove me wrong.

A sigh, a headshake, and a microphone drop.

Someone make me a cup of tea.

Keep Calm and Make Tea

The game? AmpuTea. The player? “PewDiePie”

So much anger. So much unmade digital tea.
Foul language. It’s perfection.

Find AmpuTea here

MMO gaming & tea drinking? Nope, not shocked.

My take-away? Gotta get up on that subreddit /r/Tea!

Well, that and that the tea corner established in the office at my my in-game advertising gig isn’t all that far fetched after all.

Honestly? Honest Tea’s Experiment in Social Marketing

How better to test the ethical standards of a city than to set up an unmanned pop-up shop with bottles of tea at the ready and a secured cash box?

Set them up in 12 cities, then hook up the secret cameras (with UstreamYouTube footage available as well!) and watch the fun. Add a flashy website (, and you’ve got a fairly comprehensive, “social” tea marketing campaign!

Check out this article on the stunt, where the event is pitched as a study in honesty rather than a multi-layered guerrilla marketing campaign (well done, HT) and the honestcities site as well, which features a survey link & tie into facebook

Honest Tea Facebook Welcome Shot
for a like=coupon offer. One downside – you have to download a coupon-printing application to get the coupon. Not too smooth.

The ultimate goal seems to be the popular quest for more Facebook “likes”. So far, I see 67,564 fans and 310 views on YouTube. Will have to check in a week or so to see how they fair. Also will be interesting to see what they do with their fan base after the coupons are gone.

It’s a fun campaign, and well thought out. I’ll admit I like it. I like probably it more than I should. Will really like it if fans aren’t left high and dry when the party’s over.

Hey! Why didn’t the honesty tour make it to Baltimore???

Why the hell am I drinking a cafe au lait???

The time is 4:00, and the nanny is watching my daughter until 5:30.
There is no way I’ll be able to do anything without her attached to me as soon as I walk through the door, so I’ve opted to spend the rest of my time in a local cafe – a drop of the illusive, oft promoted, often over-rated “me time”.

You know what I’m itching for right now? A cup of Pi Lo Chun. Something green, light and soothing. A gentle mouth-feel that rolls onto your tongue like a warm, lightweight blob of spring-inspired goodness.

Something that I would never in a million years dream of ordering in a place like this.

How would this be solved?

1. Show me that the tea in those tired aluminum tins behind the counter was sourced within the past month.
2. Fill my cup about 1/4 of the way with cold, cold water
3. Add the rest of the water from that horrible tap attached to your coffee maker, but no need to fill it to the top. You’ll need the space for the teabag you’ll be adding…
4. The teabag will be filled with at least a tablespoon of tea (since Pi Lo Chun is voluminous), and will be pushed into the water almost completely with the swizzle stick you’ve already used to stir the water in the cup, cooling down the coffee maker water that would otherwise destroy those precious leaves.
5. Most of the bag will be submerged, so the leaves have room to expand.
6. Finally, please let me know when you put the bag in the water! I don’t want to play the “how long has that bag been in there” guessing game.

So yeah, you think I’m going to make these kind of requests?
Especially when the guy behind the counter has already been asked to give this level of concentration to the beans he’s brewing for everyone else.
Oh hell’s no. Not if I don’t want spit in my drink.

So it’s another cafe au lait for me. Bah.

Tea? There’s an app for that.

Dude. An iPhone app for tea. Amazing.

It’s super well thought out, and I love the ability to take notes as well as the timer. But please forgive when I say that I tend not to track my cups the way I tracked my daughter’s feeding/sleeping/pooping schedule when she was fresh out. I can understand a tea inventory in a shop, but to have my tea shelf’s contents on my iPhone, updated at all times, just in case? Maybe I’m not type-a enough on that one.

The app also gives you the ability to automatically post your thoughts on whatever you’re drinking to your social network of choice. But I think my friends are grateful that I don’t have the ability to tweet about every cup I drink. Just saying…

btw: 10% off Adagio coupon featured on the site.

If I had an iPhone, would I try Tea, the app? Oh hecks yeah. It’s beautiful to look out, and has a feature for every level of your own personal tea-tracking insanity. Would love to hear with people out there think of it.

Tea Affiliate Programs

I’m sure I’m opening up a whole can of worms here, but I wonder what the most popular tea affiliate programs are out there. What are your experiences? Anything worth writing home about?

The Tea Party Ruined my Google Alerts

Months ago, I set up a Google Alert for the word “Tea”. For a while it worked.

Then all of the sudden, things took a turn for the worse. It became a feed for all things Tea Party.

So I shut down the alert, much to my annoyance.

Google, I want my alert back from its hijackers. Enough is enough. Fix the damn algorithm.


LOL Tea?

funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

Love Tea, Art and History? Live in LA? Visit the Fowler Museum!

Tea chest. Japan, early 20th century. Wood, exterior paper decoration, tin lining. photo courtesy of Fowler Museum at UCLA
Tea chest. Japan, early 20th century. Wood, exterior paper decoration, tin lining. Private Collection. Photo courtesy of Fowler Museum at UCLA

Starting tomorrow and running through November 29th, the Fowler Museum at UCLA will be presenting Steeped in History: The Art of Tea.

The exhibit features art from Asia, Europe and America. Pieces on display include paintings, tea paraphernalia, rare ceramics and prints.  Focus is not only on the items and their beauty, but much upon the politics and history surrounding tea. This comes as little surprise, as Steeped in History: The Art of Tea is guest curated by Beatrice Hohenegger, author of Liquid Jade: The Story of Tea from East to West Continue reading “Love Tea, Art and History? Live in LA? Visit the Fowler Museum!”

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