Hi, kids. Hope your week was good. It’s time to plan spring and summer trips and things to do.
If you ever find yourself in Boulder, CO, consider a tour of the Celestial Seasonings factory. Yes, the tea company.
It’s as simple as walking in asking for the tour. It’s free, and you can’t ask for more than that to kill an hour. Your ticket for the tour will be a Celestial Seasonings tea packet (mine was Lemon Zinger). There, in the tour center, you’ll find various displays, such as a dress made of CS tea packets, a collection of artistic teapots—some whimsical, some reverent of the tea leaf—and artwork. Here is where the CS Cafe is as well. You can purchase any of their specialty drinks and prepared foods, but you can also sample several varieties of tea absolutely free. The day I was there, I sampled warm Sleepytime Green Lemon Jasmine Decaf (yum), Safari Spice Rooibos Tea (spicy), Goji Berry Pomegranate (fruity and sweet), and their new Sleepytime Vanilla (light with just a hint of vanilla flavor). Over on the chilled side were Raspberry Sweet Zinger and Acai Mango Sweet Zinger, both refreshing and quite tasty.
While you’re sipping away, you can read a little of the history of the company on one of the walls. Right below that is the actual sewing machine used to sew muslin tea bags (for loose bulk tea) in 1969.
Speaking of history, here’s a condensed timeline for Celestial Seasonings:
1968—CS is founded by Mo and Peggy Siegel, Wyck Hay, and Lucinda Ziesing, who picked their own herbs in the Rocky Mountains.
1970—The first CS production factory opens in Boulder, CO.
1982—CS is included in the top 100 companies to work for in America.
2000—CS merges with Hain Food Group and is now called Hain Celestial Group. This group includes numerous natural/organic food and personal care product lines, such as Arrowhead Mills, DeBoles pasta, Earth’s Best, Spectrum, Garden of Eatin’, Avalon Organics, Alba Botanica, and others.
2005—CS welcomes its one millionth visitor to its tour center.
The actual tour starts with a 15-minute video that explains (briefly) the history of tea and Celestial Seasonings, and the manufacturing process of CS. Next, you’re taken into the factory (after donning very sexy hair nets and, if needed, beard nets) to view how it all happens. The tour guide takes you through the tea and botanicals storage area and explains what tea is how they make their blends. And you’ll learn a few things about tea in general. For example—
* Black tea has the most caffeine, while green tea has the least (white tea is somewhere in between).
*Rooibos is not technically a tea because it isn’t related to the tea family.
*Herbal teas are not really teas, either. Any “real” tea will have caffeine in it.
*”Pekoe” means “tea leaf” and “orange pekoe” is just another term for black tea (according to my tour guide, it’s the English classification of black tea).
What you will notice is that as you move from area to area, just feet from each other, you are met with different aromas, setting off different olfactory experiences. The most dramatic of these will occur in the mint room. A door is raised and the second you step in, you are hit with the unmistakable aroma of peppermint and wintergreen. It’s quite fascinating because of the immediate ocular and nasal reactions—your eyes water and your nose starts to clear with that familiar cool sensation that comes from mint. It was much like inhaling a menthol stick (you know, the kind your mother used to make you inhale when you were sick). But it’s not at all unpleasant. In fact, there’s a soothing, relaxing quality to it (but if you’re allergic to mint or having breathing problems, you might want to stay out of that room).
It always fascinates me to watch products being assemble, packaged, and pushed down a series of machines and this time was no exception.They package 350 boxes of tea per minute on each line and make 10 million tea bags per day. I find that amazing. I’m provincial that way.
Best of all, CS produces its products with sustainable, earth-friendly, and farmer-friendly practices. They commission original artwork for each of their boxes and use low-impact packaging. Actually, the best part is all the yummy flavors they produce. You can purchase all their varieties (and other products) in their tea shop at the end of the tour at lower cost than elsewhere. (If you have trouble sleeping, you might want to try Sleepytime Extra, which contains valerian root. I tried it and it seemed to help with my insomnia.)
Interesting Tidbit: According the Guiness World Records, the largest tea bag was made by Celestial Seasonings. It weighed 48 kg (106 lbs) and was displayed at the Celestial Seasonings Tea Party in Toronto on December 15, 2007. They have the certificate on the wall to prove it.
The Celestial Seasonings factory and tour center is at 4600 Sleepytime Drive (cute, right?), Boulder, CO 80301. Tours depart hourly every day, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mon-Sat and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sun. For safety reasons, children under the age of 5 are not permitted in the factory. And you can have breakfast or lunch Mon-Fri. Visit www.celestialseasonings.com. For information and reservations (for groups of 8 or more), call 303-581-1202.
Okay, gang. That’s it for this week. Hope you all have a great week ahead. And if things get stressy, brew a pot of Tension Tamer. Relax and enjoy.