Local tea maker offers free tours, free tea and free fun
Less than 15 minutes from CU is one of Boulder’s best-kept secrets, the Celestial Seasonings tour.
You’ve seen the tea boxes at the store, the Celestial Seasonings bars on campus, but now find out where the tea comes from.
Celestial Seasonings is the largest tea manufacturer in the U.S. and is located at 4600 Sleepytime Drive toward Gunbarrel, just north of campus.
Celestial Seasonings offers free tours seven days a week. If you’re looking for a place to take out-of-town guests or a date, this is an inexpensive and easy option.
The tours start every hour on the hour, between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday. Each tour takes 45 minutes.
The visit starts in the recently remodeled tour center where the tea boxes’ original artwork is displayed along with some unusual and artistic teapots. During this time you can taste any of the 100 different teas.
“It’s a very multi-sensory tour,” said Steve Spencer, guest services manager and self-proclaimed tour center ambassador. “You see the original paintings and the machines, you smell the cloves, the peppermint, the cinnamon, the lemongrass, you hear the machines, and you get to taste over 100 kinds of tea.”
Over 100,000 people come for the tour each year – totaling over 1,100,000 visitors since 1993.
Spencer said the tour attracts many students in different areas of study.
Engineering students come to see the factory, marketing students come to see a classic marketing success story, and business students come to see a business grown from the ground up.
Celestial Seasonings started in Boulder in 1970 with just two brothers and a few dedicated friends who helped pick nearby herbs and hand-sewed them into muslin bags.
You learn this and more about the company’s history in the informational video at the start of the tour. At this time, you’re also introduced to your tour guide. My tour guide, James Lucas, was very animated and added a bit of humor to the dry parts of the tour.
Everyone has to wear a hairnet and in some cases beard-nets while in the factory. Be warned; taking a date on the tour is a great and creative idea, but it’s hard to look good in a hairnet.
We entered the factory and passed around the herb milled that day, lemongrass. The blendmaster checks every batch of ground herbs to make sure each batch is exactly the same.
“The blendmaster is the same as at a brewery,” said Lucas. “Except without the risk of a DUI when he leaves work.”
Our next visit was to the tea rooms. The first room holds white, black, and green tea. The smell is strong, but not overbearing. These teas are separated from the rest of the factory because they are extremely absorbent.
The next room was the peppermint room – this is the room you either love or hate. The minute you walk in, your eyes start watering as you inhale the pungent menthol. Some people said they wanted to stay in the room forever, and some pushed their way to the exit.
Christina Bertsch, a first year masters student in the School of Journalism, has been on the tour once before and decided to take her boyfriend visiting from out of town. She was sick recently and wanted to go to the peppermint room. The menthol is so strong that it’s like taking a dip in a tub of Vic’s Vapor Rub. Many people swear by it as a remedy to clear up sinuses. Bertsch said the peppermint room did the trick.
After the tour of the factory ended, we were given free samples, tossed the hairnets, which you can keep if you’re so inclined, and explored the gift shop. Celestial Seasonings also has a cafe open for breakfast and lunch everyday.
Before you head down to Celestial Seasonings, there are a few things to note.
The tours run seven days a week, but the factory only manufactures teas Monday through Friday. So if you want to see how the tea is made, make sure to come on a weekday.
Call ahead of time if you have a big group – parties of eight or more need a reservation.
With graduation coming up, the Celestial Seasonings is great way to entertain family.
Contact Campus Press Staff Writer Jenny Bergen at email@example.com.