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.