Thursday, March 15, 2012


BOULDER, COLORADO -  Founded in 1969, Celestial Seasonings has grown to be one of the largest specialty tea manufacturers in North America.  Originally picked in the Rocky Mountains, its all-natural ingredients are now harvested from 35 different countries around the world, ensuring that that the most authentic ingredients are used in their teas for a healthy, flavorful experience in each cup.  Last week, I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to visit their facility in Colorado for a tour and tea tasting.

Upon arrival, we immediately signed up for the Tea Tour.  Since that wouldn't be for another 45 minutes or so, we were afforded just enough time to enjoy the tea-inspired art-covered walls and display cases throughout the cafe and waiting area.  There were paintings of various animals pouring themselves steaming cups of tea, outrageously creative teapots galore, and the most clever of teacups subtly woven into the chairs and tables throughout the room.  The most fantastic work of art, however, was "The Tea Dress" complete with a matching hat, purse, and shoes covered entirely by tea bags!

After spending the appropriate time to appreciate artwork by fellow tea lovers, the time had finally come to enjoy the delicious samplings of tea that were offered.  Ranging from Herbal to Chai, Black to White, and Green to Rooibos their "free tea" list was quite extensive.  They also offered samples of their Holiday, Wellness, Cool Brew, and Sweet Zinger teas, so we had quite the selection to choose from.  Naturally, I went straight for the fruity greens, looking for a bit of caffeine and sweetness.

  • Dragon Fruit Melon (Antioxidant Max Green Tea) - I think perhaps I let it steep too long because the flavor was a bit sharp and overwhelming.  It sure smelled good, though!  Perhaps it was the "potent green tea extract" advertised on the box that I was tasting?  This was the first tea that I tried and am disappointed that I didn't give it a second shot.  Next time, my friends... next time.
  • Honey Vanilla White Chai - This is the tea that I ended up taking home.  It's warm spiced, full-bodied scent and color is inviting and cozy.  It has a light, but full taste with a subtle vanilla flavor that is most pleasant to the taste buds and the chai is not overwhelming or overpowering.  If you see a box of this at your local grocery store, pick it up and give it a fair shot.  It's excellent as is, no honey, milk, or agave necessary.
  • Cinnamon Apple Spice (Herbal Tea) - This tea really was not what I was expecting.  With the sweet smell of cherries, this tea had the potential to be the Shirley Temple of teas and tasted just like juice with a hint of cinnamon aftertaste.  I am not sure how this translated to cherries since they were going for a "juicy apple" taste with the recipe.  Really wild and a delightful trick for the taste buds, but I could never drink more than cup of it if that.  Definitely worth trying out, though, if you can get your hands on it.
  • Peach Blossom (Green Tea) - Beautiful peach aroma with a subtle peach taste that is very pleasant and calming.  Mixed with white tea "for a smooth taste."

The announcement was made as we sipped the last of our cups of tea that our tour would begin shortly.  We cleaned up our area, and followed our guide into the "Theater" to watch a video on the history of Celestial Seasonings.  The presentation ended with safety instructions telling us NOT to slide on the herb debris that may be on the floor and instructing everyone to wear a hairnet.  Scott's impressive facial decor was also enhanced by a beard net which was fairly amusing although sadly he did not save it to take pictures after.

Unfortunately we were not allowed to take photos along the way on the tour, so you'll have to head up there for a visit yourself if you want to see the inside workings of the Celestial Seasonings compound, but I can tell you that being in the presence of sack after sack within crate after crate of tea leaves and herbs is thrilling!  We had a couple of crazy older ladies on our tour who had obviously made a tradition of going together because there was much talk and anticipation on their part of the "Peppermint Room."

Complete with a candycane striped door and matching sign just above denoting that we had reached said "Peppermint Room" we were warned that we may not be able to spend much time inside.  This was so because the smell of who knows how many pounds of peppermint was so strong that you only had to pop your head in to be completely showered in the scent!  Scott and I stepped inside with the ladies for brief time to enjoy having our sinus cavities cleared out by the aroma.  Using the phrase "It was like Christmas!" is entirely too accurate on so many levels.  Just outside the door is where I noticed cases of boxed tea labeled "TJ's" when I realized that they are the providers for Trader Joe's.  It was the polar bear artwork on the cover of one of the boxes that confirmed my suspicions.

Aside from that, we saw how the tea was sorted, where it was picked from, and how it is packaged.  One room was so packed with Green and Black tea that you could almost get a caffeine contact high from standing in it.  No complaints here.  When the tour let out, we found ourselves in the Tea Shop, surrounded by the teas we had just discussed and tasted prior to the tour and other assorted goodies.

A lovely little room with every square inch of space filled with all sorts of teapots, tea cups, and assorted teatime items.  The Tea Shop is also home to the vast collection of teas that Celestial Seasonings produces, many of which are sold at the low low rate of $2.50/box.  Although there were probably over a hundred different styles of teapot ranging from ultra modern to garden themed and traditional, my personal favorite teapot was a bit squiggly and reminded me of someone dancing to "Walk Like an Egyptian."  After purchasing a bit of tea and deciding that upon my return I would pick up the teapot chalkboard hanging over the check out counter, we headed back to the cafe for one last tea tasting before hitting the road to yoga in downtown Boulder.

I hope you enjoyed my recap of the tour and tea.  If you have any comments or questions please feel free (as always) to leave them in the comment box below.  I'll be happy to answer them and discuss any of the teas listed above.  Also, if you have a suggestion for any other teas to try or have a story about your own visit to Celestial Seasonings, I'd love to hear about it!  Thanks for reading!  CHEERS!


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