Zoe Elle recently had the chance to chat with The Republic of Tea’s Minister of Enlightenment and Commerce, Kristina Richens Tucker. Kristina gave us some insight into how the company operates differently from other brands, and how the brand’s success is giving back to various communities.
The Minister of Enlightenment and Commerce is a fun way of referring the position title Kristina holds as one of the company’s employees. Kristina explained to me that employees are ministers and customers are citizens; retailers are the embassy and sales reps are ambassadors. This unique labeling shows that The Republic of Tea is more than a brand, it’s a lifestyle, and Kristina says, “this language helps reinforce the culture and keep things whimsical.”
The Republic of Tea has been around 28 years and with just over 100 employees the company aims to “enrich people’s lives with delicious premium teas and herbs,” says Kristina.
The Republic of Tea has a group called the “sip tank” and this group is always coming up with innovative new ideas and formulas for yummy tea flavors. There is also a registered dietitian (Jennifer McDaniels) who helps consult with formulations for some of their signature health and wellness teas.
The most popular and iconic flavor is ginger peach, which was one of the first 21 original flavors in the company! It comes in a variety of mixes such as black, ice, and green tea leaving customers with a multitude of ways to enjoy it!
The company’s origin story is just as interesting as it’s tea. It was founded on May 1st in 1992 by husband and wife Mel and Patrica Zeigler, former owners and founders of Banana Republic. After selling to the Gap in 1983 the couple set out to launch this endeavor along with their long time business partner William Rosenzweig.
What I love is how much they give back to the community, on both an international and national scale! One of their most successful programs is Women of Tea in Sri Lanka, which has helped nearly 27,000 community members. This program set up 6 community gardens and addresses topics such as nutrition, hygiene, and a deeper understanding of finance. The overall goal of this program aims towards helping create a higher quality of living for families.
The creation of the program was developed through the Ethical Tea Partnership which is an organization and group of over 50 tea companies who have come together to “talk about ethics of the global tea supply.” They also discuss sustainable practices along with who would be a good organization to partner with, such as the women of tea project in Sri Lanka.
Women of Tea is not the only program that The Republic of Tea partners with; There are other national and local programs that the company takes part in, and every minister (employee) has two days off called “make a day” where they can volunteer with the various organizations.
Kristina tells us that around “160 million cups of tea are consumed in the US every day”. That is a LOT of tea and waste accumulated through tea bags and tins. The Republic of Tea is actively taking steps in creating a more sustainable future by instilling more mindful and sustainable practices in their company’s products. They have an impact on tea team to help ensure all stages of production are sustainable. When a tin of tea is purchased from this brand, consumers are buying a recycled container filled with unbleached tea bags that have no strings or staples attached. Having an unbleached tea bag with no strings or staples is important; with fewer microplastics from the tea bags, and you are using a tin that is ultimately less harmful to our planet and your health.
One of The Republic of Teas mottos for a sustainable lifestyle is to “live sip by sip rather than gulp by gulp.” This is absolutely a phrase to live by! If you’re looking for a great tea to sip on, go check out their website for current and upcoming teas!