There are tea cultures in many parts of the world and the English are known to have a staunch one. With the premiere of the Regency era drama Bridgerton, many people revived their love for sipping teas in fancy cups at the comfort of their homes. LaRue 1680, a Black-owned tea brand afforded many Americans that luxury with the company seeing a spike in sales since the show hit the screens.
Stephanie Synclair, the founder of LaRue 1680 and a business coach, did not always set out to curate exotic tea blends. She was a young woman who always wanted to see the world and experience different cultures. Getting pregnant did not even stop her from jet-setting around the world, contrary to what everyone around her thought.
In 2012, Synclair, whose son Caden is now 14 years old, began exploring Asia and Europe when he was just 7. “I knew when I had him, we were gonna experience it together. I decided I was never gonna look at my child like a hindrance, but the fuel for me to do this,” Synclair told TODAY Food.
This was when the Alabama native first connected with the tea drinking culture in Indonesia. She and her son were swooned by the intricate tea drinking ceremonies in Bali as well as the art of making them.
Caden loved the experience so much so that for his 8th birthday, he requested a Balinese sipping class that encompassed the whole tea-making ritual where they would grind and mix their herbs, fruits, and spices to create unique mixtures.
After a year of enjoying the great outdoors in Bali and learning to curate lovely and sensual tea mixtures, Synclair and her son returned to the states, but Bali and their tea-loving culture never left them.
She continued to make the teas at home and for her family and friends. As she saw herself evolve making these teas for people around her, Synclair decided to take it up as a business and the e-commerce brand, LaRue 1680, was born. It, however, did not go public till several years later.
The single mother, determined to put out the best product for consumers, spent 2019 mostly in France conducting extensive research on teas and planned to launch in January 2020, but 2020 had a mind of its own.
The world was hit with a pandemic that to date, many lives have been lost and many businesses have collapsed. She decided to see the silver lining in having to delay the launch of her loose-leaf teas and used that time to properly structure her business module and her wares.
Finally, in October 2020, Synclair put her handcrafted teas online available for nationwide delivery and the feedback was amazing, especially because many were still at home quarantining and a little to get them by was now within reach.
“Generally, the way you see tea marketed is flat, not sexy. When it’s done right: it’s so sexy. This is not your grandmother’s tea,” said Synclair. “Listen: Grab a beautiful cup and let’s put our pinkies up.”
With Bridgerton’s premiere on Christmas Day, Synclair, as a business coach, saw the opportunity to market her teas seeing as the characters oozed the English tea culture scene after scene.
The public’s response to Bridgerton and everything in it worked in Synclair’s favor. As fashion houses were making Regency era pieces in the collections, people fell in love with LaRue 1680’s timely loose-leaf tea brand and the whole relaxed ‘stay at home and let us enjoy the series with the tea vibe.’
She posted her teas on Instagram while playing around with the principal characters alluding to which of the blends the characters could be sipping on or which ones match the personality of the characters, and it worked.
LaRue 1680 saw a growth rate of around 500% comparing their revenue in October after the launch through to December when the series premiered.
The teas go for $10 to $19 per 3-ounce bag (about 40 to 50 cups) and many want her to get a tea shop they can come and relive all their own romantic era story but Synclair wants to give it time.
The tea-entrepreneur intends on celebrating the anniversary of her launch with lavish pop-ups and tailored garden experiences for her consumers to enjoy their teas.