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From the Farmer

Q&A Runningbyrd Tea

Published on Sourcing + storytelling

We interviewed Ben Byrd of Runningbyrd Tea, a Washington, DC based bottled tea company. Look for their mason jar hand-crafted seasonal teas in our marketplace.

Q&A Runningbyrd Tea

We know your last name is Byrd, but where did you come up with the name Runningbyrd? 

My last name is Byrd and I used to run a lot. It's always been a sort of nickname, so that felt right. The great blue heron is a family favorite, so that was another easy decision.

Tell us a little bit about the inception of Runningbyrd Tea.
I started brewing tea in college, and by the end was brewing a gallon a day for roommates and friends. I kept up the practice for another decade before starting Runningbyrd Tea company, improving the product as life introduced new obstacles and flavors.

How do you come up with the names and stories for each of the teas?
Our tea names are either a description (lemongrass white peach, apple cider tea), a memory (spiced thaisummer rain), or a memorial to people who were instrumental to my journey into this ridiculous business (
montgomery mint, george's peach.) I add the stories to replicate my iced tea experience, sitting on a porch drinking tea and listening to the stories told by family members and friends. So whether the reader is entertained while sipping tea alone, or inspired to share a story of their own with a drinking partner, I hope the stories add flavor to their life. Fortunately no one reads the stories :) , which gives me the freedom to make them more personal than brand experts would advise.

Who is your favorite kitchen hero and why?
My kitchen hero would have to be my grandfather Marion Montgomery. I say that because iced tea has always been important to me, and he kept the back porch fridge stocked at all times. I remember him diligently brewing tea behind the scenes. His house was the epicenter for visits from family and friends.

If you could start over, what would you do differently?
I don't think there is anything I would or could have done differently with the company. I tend to take the long view that this is a journey, so if I made mistakes, they only add flavor. Certainly I could have started the company a decade earlier, but the tea would have suffered.

Describe a typical week as a tea business owner?
Our tea kettle is usually boiling 80-100 hours a week, and we spend another 10-20 delivering product around the DMV. Any extra time is spent dealing with random headaches that arise, but I've tried to streamline the process so that we can concentrate on our strengths, blending and brewing tea.

What are your hopes for the future of Runningbyrd Tea?
My hopes for the future are the same as my goal from the beginning, to share our flavors with as many people as possible. To do that, we've paired with companies that can reach people in places I'd never be able to reach, like From the Farmer. I hope to keep going as long as people enjoy our tea.