Thursday, January 24, 2008

I have a lot of opinions about tea


On Saturday we went on a tour of the Celestial Seasonings factory. They're based in Boulder. The factory was cool (although it would be a lot cooler on a weekday with all the machines running), but here's the thing: Celestial Seasonings? They are the number one specialty tea company, but they don't make very good tea. I tried the five flavors of hot tea and two iced that they had out at the tasting bar, and I would be able to swallow one of them again, if it was offered to me.

You can also get a cup of any tea that they make, so I tried something from their new fancy line, Saphara. A bunch of smaller tea companies have started making whole-leaf teas in recent years - they have big teabags made of fancy materials, with space for the leaves to expand. They use whole leaves instead of the cut-up stuff in regular teabags, which means you end up with something that tastes like it was made from loose tea.

So Celestial Seasonings has now gotten on the bandwagon with Saphara. The genmaicha is tasty, although I have yet to meet a genmaicha I didn't love. (The blackberry something-or-other Saphara tea I tried was...less tasty.)

The coolest thing on the tour was the peppermint room. Most of the herbs and spices are in a big room, but the tea leaves (most of their "teas" are herbal and don't have any tea in them) have their own room because they're like sponges and will soak up any smells nearby, and the peppermint has its own room because, uh, I walked into the peppermint room and walked out again in five seconds with my eyes burning. That stuff is FIERCE. It's not even processed there - it's processed somewhere in Washington State, where it's grown.

To summarize: The Celestial Seasonings tour is cool, if you're ever in Boulder, but you should still buy Republic of Tea. Or Mighty Leaf. Or Stash. Or something else non-bad.

8 comments:

miss shirley said...

What makes it so different? The blend of teas? How it is processed? To me, tea is tea. Throw in a dash of milk and a teeny bit of honey and I am happy. Or replace it with coffee and I am even happier.

towwas said...

It just tastes gross. I think I probably also don't like herbal and fruit teas very much, but it's true of their tea teas, too. Good tea is really, really good, and what they are selling is not good tea. You know that tea story I wrote? I recommended four teas, and I tasted a *lot* of Celestial Seasonings and wouldn't recommend any of it. (But this is all tea tea - I think some of their herbals are ok. But most aren't.)

Coloradan said...

Miss Shirley, I recommend a trip to Ching Ching Cha if you're interested in becoming a tea aficionado/snob. But perhaps you don't want to be the kind of person who would pay $5 for a cup of tea, which is fine, too.

J.Bro said...

Is there tea that tastes good? I suffer through green tea because I know it's good for me, but I do it unhappily.

towwas said...

Yes, there is tea that tastes good. Step one for green tea to make you happy: don't make it with boiling water. In fact, put a little cold water on the tea before you add the hot water.

Sara said...

I like their hibiscus based herbal teas okay. They are a little similar, but taste fine to me. However, I've been scared away by some vanilla/honeyish flavor that is in a lot of the herbal teas and in the flavored green teas. Does anyone know what that ingredient is? It tastes very bad to me.

David J said...

I have to put in a good word for Tao of Tea, because they are based here in Portland and their retail tea shop is located like 3 blocks from my house.

towwas said...

Ooh yeah, Sara, I know that vanilla/honey flavor you're talking about, and it's vile.

Thanks for the tip, Dahvay. Next time I'm in Portland...which is to say...uh...ok, dunno when that'll be.