Ever since The Republic of Tea launched its first Website in January 1999, the teas merchant’s customers have offered countless ideas, comments, and suggestions. That input became the foundation for a site redesign showcasing The Republic of Tea’s new online tea experience.
“We wanted to create a place for all tea drinkers, from tea aficionados to casual enthusiasts (and for those yet to join the specialty tea revolution), to share in the history, tradition and creativity of tea,” says Marideth N. Post, whose title at the company is “minister of enlightenment.” (In the world of the Novato, CA-based cataloger, “ministers” are employees and “citizens” are customers.)
“We started discussing concepts for the new Website in January 2009,” she says. Work began on the new site in early September, and the official launch date was April 19. The Republic of Tea Website is a “visual embodiment of The Republic of Tea brand–emblematic of The Republic of Tea lifestyle,” Post explains.
The heart of The Republic of Tea’s new Website is The Citizen’s Tea Library, built as an entirely separate system and powered by WordPress, Post says. The digital reference center offers fresh, objective and practical tea information from authoritative sources.
The Citizens’ Tea Library is a place citizens can learn tea origins, how to steep tea and unique, creative ways to enjoy tea. Visitors can find recipes, history and more; they can also query the minister of information with any questions.
The site redesign also includes simplified product pages that provide detailed information about each tea and tea-inspired product, including ingredients, steeping instructions and more, Post says. “Every word of the Website was rewritten–well researched, well thought out and purposeful.”
The Tea Blog is another facet of the new site that allows daily interaction between ministers and citizens. Subscriptions to The Tea Blog are available and Citizens can follow The Republic of Tea on Twitter (@republicoftea) and enjoy daily Tea-Chings, be the first to hear company news and connect with the ministers of The Republic of Tea.
The new site highlights educational initiatives including a schedule of regular tea classes and tastings held at “embassies” (retailers) throughout the U.S., a series of informative videos on tea and tea preparation and first-person reports from The Republic of Tea’s annual tea experiential trips to tea-growing regions in South Africa, China, Taiwan, Japan and India.
As the $20 million Republic of Tea grows, it needs a Website that is scalable, Post says. “Like many organizations, we had homegrown technology. We needed to rebuild from the very foundation of the Website with technology that can grow with the brand–take it the next level and beyond.”
Post believes the educational aspect of the new site will continue to evolve, “giving citizens more ways to learn about tea, by integrating more tea education into the user experience.” The Website will not only connect Republic of Tea ministers with citizens, “it will also connect the community of tea drinkers,” she says. “We will continue to build on this aspect.”