Our Founding Story
Twenty-seven years ago today—on May 1st, 1992—Mel Ziegler, Patricia Ziegler and Bill Rosenzweig officially founded The Republic of Tea in Mill Valley, California. The Zieglers had previously founded Banana Republic, which they sold to Gap in 1983.
During its first year, The Republic of Tea released 21 premium teas that had never before been available to American consumers. The launch of these exotic, highly innovative teas sparked a tea-drinking revolution across the United States.
The founders published a book titled The Republic of Tea: Letters to a Young Entrepreneur. Inspired by this book, fellow entrepreneur Ron Rubin purchased the company in 1994, just eighteen months after its founding.
Under Rubin’s leadership, The Republic of Tea grew into a nationally recognized brand and the leading purveyor of more than 300 premium teas and herbs. One of Rubin’s primary objectives as the leader of the company was to emphasize a “Sip by Sip Rather Than Gulp by Gulp” lifestyle.
On May 1st, 2015—the company’s 23rd anniversary—Ron Rubin welcomed his son Todd as the new Minister of Evolution (President) of The Republic of Tea. Ron now serves as Executive Chairman and Minister of Tea. In 2016, he was inducted into the Speciality Food Association Hall of Fame for his many industry achievements.
- Identity as an Independent Republic: The Republic of Tea refers to its customers as “Citizens,” employees as “Ministers,” retail outlets as “Embassies,” and sales representatives as “Ambassadors.”
- Guiding Philosophies: The Republic of Tea embraces the ancient Chinese philosophy of Ta Shun, or Harmony for the Whole. Additionally, all offices and facilities at The Republic of Tea were designed by a Feng Shui expert and incorporate soothing colors and architectural details inspired by nature.
- Innovation: The Republic of Tea was the first tea company to receive USDA Certified Organic Certification, as well as the first to bring 100% white tea, rooibos and yerba maté to the American marketplace.
- Sustainability: The Republic of Tea revolutionized the tea industry with its 100% recyclable round tins and unbleached round tea bags, free of unnecessary tags and staples. All of the teas and herbs from The Republic of Tea are fairly traded. The teas are procured from the earth’s purest organic gardens whenever possible.
- Social Responsibility: The Republic of Tea is mindful of how its actions impact the greater community, and actively supports worthy organizations such as The Ethical Tea Partnership, Whole Planet Foundation, Community Link in Illinois, Big Brothers Big Sisters of the North Bay, and Homeward Bound of Marin.
The Republic of Tea has enjoyed a long and fruitful journey since its founding in 1992. Each year on May 1st, it is an honor and a privilege to look back and remember how far the organization has come —join us in celebrating 27 years of The Republic of Tea today!
Watch our video for more surprising things you may not know about The Republic of Tea’s rich and storied history.