This is a bit of a different interview for our readers, we interviewed Noah Bleich owner of TeaBook and some amazingly geeky named teas. If you’re into great puns and AMAZING tea… then definitely check out Noah and his products.
Q. We first discovered you at Long Beach Comic Expo… let’s start with how did you get to doing puns with teas? You also have the TeaBook, which is book that stores tea… how did that idea come about?
I hosted dinner parties for 15 to 20 people. After the meal I would ask “who would like some Tea?” The first question I always got was “what flavors do you have?” This was a hard one, I had over 30 flavors. I figured there has to be a better way. I thought, “What if there was a light-weight, easy-to-pass-around book that organized ones teas, making it easy to find the one you wanted?”
I told this idea to my mom but then I gave up on it. But, mothers never forget and mailed me a prototype 1 year before she died battling ovarian cancer, she never gave up fighting for her life. She made it from household products and sent it to me with a note that said “follow your dreams.” Today The TeaBook is a reality!! Made with love, it is making lives, pantries, parties and the environment a little better!!
Once, I had the book to store tea, I thought why not make fun tea and collect them. Our tea line was born. Books tell stories, ours holds tea, so each tea is designed to tell a story, educate you, and make you smile.
Q. Aside from the great names, what sets your tea apart from everyone else?
1.) The art: We have hired 4 artists so far. We are creating a packaging gallery for artists to display their talents. 2.) Most tea is not organic (I was surprised to find this out too) ours is. Given that you are seeping the flavors and chemicals out of the leaf, you would think organic would be an industry standard. 3.) We also try to have fun blends,that have unique tastes that match our characters. 4.) It is limited edition with set printing limits. We also do a first edition print and then all other prints are second edition. After a printing run is done, we will have new art done for the same flavor.
Q. Can we expect any Star Wars themed teas in the future? or anything similar?
We would love to do these, but there is a licencing issue for fictional characters. It can be hard to navigate and sometimes very costly for a small startup company. We have been reaching out to the BBC about making a DocTEAr Who series. Will keep you posted.
Q. What’s your creative process for naming your teas?
First and foremost a hot cup of tea to juice the creative wheels..:-). Then we think in series (LiTEArary, EqualiTEA, LGBQTea, PoliTEAcal) our next series will probably be ScienTEAists. Then we propose some ideas, then open the question to our tea community for other name ideas. Tea like ideas is best when shared. We then make sure there is one pun in the name or the flavor. Now the business side kicks in: Is the name trademarked? Can we use the likeness of the character (very complex legal issue). Lastly, are we happy with the final product, if not we start over.
Q. People can also purchase your prints and posters of your tea… do you dabble in non tea related art?
Yes, our tea and prints are available online at shop.theteabook.com. I am not an artist, i do the word play and nerding out, I then find an artist(s) that matches the series. We meet over a cup of tea and hash out the ideas. Since not an artist, we only sell tea themed art. Did you find all the hidden references in the art?
Q. Let’s talk about Teas and Tarps, what is it, is it still active, and how can people help?
I started the company with a partner, and we always believe in doing good. For Tea’s and Tarps we would go in the rain and give waterproof tarps (there tents aren’t waterproof) and a hot cup of tea to homeless people. The most profound moment was when we would give our TeaBook for them to choose the hot tea they wanted, and they would get so excited. I asked them why, and they said “they usually don’t get to choose what they get”. We complain about too much choice, take it away, and the choice of a bag of tea is like winning the lottery.
Q. Fred Tea Mercury: Bohemian Raspberry might be the greatest pun we’ve ever heard… how do you come up with these names?
Thanks for the compliment, it is definitely one of our favorites. There is a thin line between a “dad joke” and a great pun. I went to this great talk on humor. The premise of the presenter, was that “humor is a violation of rules, and then a remedy of the violation.” Puns he went on to say are for more intelligent people, because for it to make sense you must understand the language. If you understand language you are generally more intelligent.
We are missusing spelling, sound and structure to make the joke. So we take the subject and think, does the name have a t, d, or ea sound? Does it make sense to change it to tea there? Freddie, the Ddie sounds like TEA. Accents/phonetics come into play next. Bohemian was the the same as the song, however raspberry is not Rhaphsody. If you say raspberry like we use in day to day language you would say “razberry,”. But, if you read the word you would say “rasp berry” this sounds like rhapsody. Throw a bit of accent and emphsis on the “SP,” and you have made the perfect pun and cup of tea…:-)
For Marie Currie there was no imediate sound pun. So we went to the next tier. Context/definition puns. Her flavor is Radiant Hibiscus. The pun is in the context/definition because she studied radiation. This is based on a bright substance like a coloful flower hibiscus. We could have gone with RaTEAtion, but that would take it one level further from the context and would make it more confusing how it relates.
The Last step is human testing (sorry PETA). Tell people the pun, if they cringe, sigh or scoff, go back to the naming. If Laughter or smiles, you are ready to brew.
Q. The company behind The TeaBook is 713 Innovations, what else can we expect from 713 Innovations in the future?
We are transitioning from a career in the service industry to one in the product industry. It is a huge leap even Superman would have a problem with. I went from IT work to just Tea Work. We have a couple of ideas from gaming efficiency to ecological enhancements for the average person, but we are starting with one product at a time.
Q. Where can our readers find you next?
We will be at the Autry Odd Market (yes, we are proudly odd) on April 20th and May 18th https://theoddmarket.com/, or on April 21st and 22nd at the LA Times Book Festival http://events.latimes.com/festivalofbooks/
Hello, I am the Creative Content Director. I don’t like talking about myself.