Do you need a gimmick to stand out in the great wide world of tea selling? There are many successful merchants whose continued existence disproves that notion. But a great gimmick probably doesn’t hurt, especially if it’s combined with a good product.
Take the case of the Republic of Tea, for instance. While they offer plenty of great tea, their gimmick has been to structure themselves as an actual republic of tea (well, sort of) in which the employees serve as ministers, sales representatives are ambassadors, customers are citizens and retailers who sell their tea are known as embassies.
Things got underway for Republic of Tea on May 1, 1992, in Novato, California, where the company still makes its headquarters and where they concocted their first tea, Ginger Peach Black. Among the company’s co-founders were Mel and Patricia Ziegler, who were previously co-founders of the popular clothing company, Banana Republic. Though they later sold their interest in the company they recounted their story in a 1994 book called The Republic of Tea: The Story of the Creation of a Business, as Told Through the Personal Letters of Its Founders.
As they note in their charter, which was adopted in 1994, one of the company’s purposes “is to enrich people’s lives through the experience of fine tea and the Sip by Sip rather than Gulp by Gulp lifestyle” and “to become the leading purveyor of full-leaf teas and herbs in the world.” Whether or not the company has achieved those goals is anybody’s guess, but as they mark their 20th anniversary in the tea business the company claims that their products are now available in more than “20,000 gourmet retailers and restaurants throughout the United States.”
Over the course of their two decades in business, Republic of Tea also claims to have come up with a number of tea-related firsts, including the first line of unsweetened bottle iced teas, the first tea inspired by the Grateful Dead’s Jerry Garcia, and many more. See a selection of these at the company’s Product Launch Timeline page.
Most recent among the company’s many offerings, two teas specifically put together to commemorate their 20th anniversary. They are a 20th Anniversary Celebration Tea, “a delicious blend of premium high-grown, Ceylon black tea leaves from the Tommagong Estate in Sri Lanka, full tea blossoms lending a light herbal note, sweet white wine grapes from the Orange River Vineyard in South Africa, and infused with the essence of champagne,” and Twenty Herbs, a tisane which blends — you guessed it — twenty herbs and spices.
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