We chat with Stephanie Synclair, founder and CEO of luxury loose leaf tea company La Rue 1680, to find out more about her healthy and sophisticated beverage of choice.
It was a little twinkle in my eye back in 2012 but I was busy with my consulting business at the time. I built up this business until it was able to function on its own – and finance La Rue. This became possible in October 2020.
My son and I traveled a lot in 2012 and 2013, and when we came back to the US, I realized that loose leaf tea simply wasn’t available here. I started making my own teas (or infusions) at home for personal consumption – ginger and turmeric, for example. During the pandemic, the idea popped back into my mind, and La Rue 1680 was officially launched.
I think it boils down to loose leaf tea being of higher quality. When tea is ground, many of the nutrients are taken out of the leaf, a little like when cooking food. Loose leaf tea uses the whole leaf, and the nutrients are only released when hot water is added. In comparison to ground tea in a bag, loose leaf tea can also be up to four or five times the price – sometimes more.
What I’ve found, particularly in the US, is that people don’t actually know about loose leaf tea. They drink tea for the flavor without realizing it’s also very healthy for you. When people discover loose leaf tea, they rarely go back to the bagged variety.
They’re all organic and sustainably harvested. We have a manufacturing company in Canada but we harvest our teas from all over the world: Thailand, China, India, Morocco. All of our hibiscus comes from Thailand.
Tea heals the mind, body, and soul, so it’s really important to us that our products are as healthy as possible. We avoid pesticides at all costs – organic, fairtrade, and sustainable produce are top priorities for us
Our everyday offerings include the India Street Vanilla Chai, Casablanca Street (with apple, elderberry, rosehip, strawberry, and more), Italian Cream Earl Grey, and Moroccan Mint. These are all named after locations because the idea was for the tea to transport our customers away from the “mundane” of the everyday.
I love to cook, and I believe that some people have a natural knack for flavor profiles. I can do the same with tea, so I often come up with my own blends. I test them at home first, and then I send them to our manufacturer who will blend them and send me samples. It's a six-to-eight-week process.
I actually like coffee! It’s similar in the sense that you can smell and taste the difference between loose leaf tea and tea that has been ground, just as you can smell and taste the difference between fresh coffee beans and instant coffee.
It’s interesting to know that many teas contain more caffeine than coffee – like maté, for example. If I’m looking for a caffeine fix, I’d definitely take the tea option as the effects last much longer. It’s also important to note that when we refer to “infusions,” the tea leaf is often absent and therefore the beverage is caffeine-free.
I really believe there is a belief and energy behind tea that encompasses relaxation and leisure. Coffee is more of a “hustle and bustle” drink which you might grab before going to work. Tea is sipped, a book is read, feet are placed on the ottoman… there is more of a meditative, luxurious approach to this beverage.