The Celestial Seasonings factory near Boulder, CO, is a fairly ordinary business sight but the smells are sensational. We passed pallets of ingredients and saw machinery with names like Robotic Palletizers while being told that this production facility creates half a million boxes of tea each day.
This tour is a very popular tourist activity. There were 86 people on it with Ruth & me during that weekend afternoon, and most of them bought tea and trinkets in the gift shop where it ended. This tea factory had already welcomed its millionth visitor by 2005. Many on the tour bought Celestial Seasonings 2 new flavors, Peppermint Peak and Cinnamon Express. Ruth, however, passed on Peppermint because she wanted to try Black Cherry Berry.
Moe Siegel, Celestial Seasonings founder, discovered wild herbs growing around Boulder and began packaging them in muslim bags to sell in a health food store. He conceived the company name because he knew a girl whom he decided was Celestial. By 1977 Celestial Seasonings had gone international. Today 1.6 billion cups of its tea are drunk around the world each day. Its best selling tea is called Sleepytime, and its corporate headquarters has moved from a barn to more traditional offices at 4600 Sleepytime Drive. Its #2 best seller is chamomile and #3 is peppermint. The scent in the peppermint room was so close to overpowering that some of the 86 skipped it. Ruth’s best is Bengal Spice.
A lot of the pallets I saw on this tour were stacked high with packages from all over the world because 150 ingredients are used. Celestial Seasonings uses blackberry flavoring from China to make some tea, the most popular beverage in the world. More than 50 countries export tea including Burundi and Guatemala. Our astute and entertaining host whose name was not Celestial told us that their teas have a relatively short shelf life. After 2 years in your pantry, throw them out she suggested.
Visitors get to sample Celestial Seasonings teas before the tour. They wander around with small cups in their hands taking photos, reading the clever quotes about the advantages of drinking tea and living right, and looking at the company’s art work, which has a decidedly high sugar content. The 30 minute walking tour that followed had rules–no toy guns, no cell phones–as our host soberly explained the entire tea making process accompanied by those distracting smells.
ps The Buffalo painting in the reception area and above is very Colorado and is called “Morning Thunder”.