Celestial Seasonings Tour & The Emperor's Choice Blend

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beforewisdom
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Joined: Tue Jan 23, 2018 11:31 am

Sat Oct 06, 2018 11:49 am

A few weeks ago I was in Boulder Colorado visiting family.

I discovered that Celestial Seasonings was located about a quarter mile from my hotel. Of course, I ate in the company cafeteria ( free tea refills ), went on the company tour, and enjoyed their extensive gift shop.

Their building in Boulder is their sole building, being both their headquarters and their factory. All they do there is clean, blend, and package the ingredients they ship in from around the world ( 40 ingredients overall, 10 from the U.S. ). The factory is almost completely mechanized.

The most interesting part of the tour for me was their little history wall. I saw a picture of the founder from the 60s, looking like a member of the band The Doobie Brothers. He started the company by climbing up in the Rockies to pick herbs and selling them in big muslin bags. I so wanted to visit THAT Celestial Seasonings circa 1960s Boulder. The tour guide told us that Celestial Seasonings is responsible for the misnomer term "herbal tea". The early company discovered that they could just not sell "herbal infusion" mixes, so they relabeled their products as "herbal tea" to good financial results.

I saw a giant room where all of the real tea was kept, to prevent it from absorbing the odors from their other ingredients, stored in giant bins in their main room. Likewise all of their mint leaves had their own room too for the opposite reason. The fumes from the mint leaves were so strong a number of people couldn't tolerate standing in that mint room. Now I understand why mice are repelled by mint.

Once in the gift shop after the tour I was told by a clerk that Celestial Seasonings had discontinued their Emperor's Choice blend, but had brought back blends before as a result of popular demand. I ( and a disappointed crowd ) were told to use the contact form at celestialseasonings.com to do this.

The clerk also told us that the few remaining boxes could be ordered from here
http://www.celestialseasonings.com/prod ... herbal-tea

When I got home I ordered a box out of nostalgia. When I was 14 I made a lot of changes in my life that have lasted until today. One of things I started experimenting with was herbal tea and Emperor's Choice from the supermarket was one of the first non SAD(Standard American Diet) foods I tried.

Interestingly, their "Emperor's Choice" was listed under "new products" on the site, so maybe it has already been brought back.

However I remembered it being in a blue box and the new box was yellow.

Sleuthing around I found a few comments stating that Celestial Seasonings had altered the blend.

Sleuthing further I don't think it was changed by that much. I did a Google image search and followed an image for a blue box version of the blend back to a shopping site ( http://www.shopwell.com/celestial-seaso ... 7073400017) that listed the ingredients as
Cinnamon, Blackberry Leaves, Eleuthero Ginsesng Root, Roasted Chicory Root, Orange Peel, Rosehips, Ginger Root, Lovage Root, Natural Flavors, Licorice Root, and Panax Ginseng.
However the modern yellow boxed blend has these ingredients:
Cinnamon, Blackberry Leaves, Eleuthero, Orange Peel, Roasted Chicory, Rosehips, Ginger, Licorice Root, and Ginseng
The difference is that the new blend has been improved by removing the "Natural Flavors" ( some blends use only real ingredients, other blends use artificial ingredients. Caveat Emptor ). Also 1 of 3 types of ginseng and lovage root were removed from the reincarnated blend.


I'm not a super taster ( my career as a tea industry professional will have to wait for my next life ) so all I could taste in the new blend was the cinnamon.

I think most people who aren't super tasters who could not get Emperor's Blend would be almost as happy just getting one of the many cinnamon teas or cinnamon infusions out there.

Anyway, that was my unexpected visit to Celestial Seasonings in Boulder Colorado and my reacquaintance with a nostalgic drink from my teen years.
Ethan Kurland
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Sat Oct 06, 2018 6:30 pm

Thank you for this. It helps me to understand why I see so many boxes of Celestial Seasonings blends in people's home, but see them drinking other hot beverages almost all of the time. They buy it for the emotions connected to stocking their first apartment etc. I find how open the company is, quite refreshing.

I am from Phillipsburg, New Jersey, 12 miles from Washington, N.J. where M'Ms & other candies are made. Employees at that factory were not allowed to say anything at all about the company and its products. The company would not even answer a simple question, "Why were there no red-colored M&Ms for a while?"

Harpers Magazine wrote an article about this secrecy etc. It seems that red was associated with communism & the company which liked to boss & control its workers to the extreme, certainly hated the idea of a Workers State.
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beforewisdom
Posts: 8
Joined: Tue Jan 23, 2018 11:31 am

Sun Oct 07, 2018 1:59 pm

Ethan Kurland wrote:
Sat Oct 06, 2018 6:30 pm
Thank you for this. It helps me to understand why I see so many boxes of Celestial Seasonings blends in people's home, but see them drinking other hot beverages almost all of the time. They buy it for the emotions connected to stocking their first apartment etc. I find how open the company is, quite refreshing.
They also had a tasting room for people to try out and give feedback on new blends. Their web sites lists other things to do in Boulder and has a Spotify play list. Taking pictures on the factory floor was forbidden, but that is completely understandable IMHO. Overall very few people worked there and the ones I met seemed very, very friendly.
I am from Phillipsburg, New Jersey, 12 miles from Washington, N.J. where M'Ms & other candies are made. Employees at that factory were not allowed to say anything at all about the company and its products. The company would not even answer a simple question, "Why were there no red-colored M&Ms for a while?"

Harpers Magazine wrote an article about this secrecy etc. It seems that red was associated with communism & the company which liked to boss & control its workers to the extreme, certainly hated the idea of a Workers State.
That kind of pin headedness needs to die out.
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debunix
Posts: 317
Joined: Sat Oct 21, 2017 1:27 am

Tue Oct 09, 2018 10:13 am

Before I left home for college I probably drank tea a handful of times in Chinese restaurants--none of it fine stuff. When I got to the co-op, I found a serious Peets Coffee cult (not for me), and a huge variety of Celestial Seasonings blends. I started drinking the easy fruity ones, almost like a not-so-sweet fruit punch, tried flavored c. sinensis with Emperor's choice, and fueled study sessions with Morning Thunder tea+yerba mate. From there, it was a short step to enjoying SeaDyke Ti Kuan Yin with Dad, who'd been introduced to that as a reliably tasty tea by a calligraphy buddy back before it was easy to get good tea from China. And following his instructions, I bought SeaDyke, and really only SeaDyke, for years after, along with a variety of Celestial Seasonings.

It was a shortage of SeaDyke in my local shops that finally led me to start exploring other teas, exclusively Chinese at first, and I had both good and bad experiences, and was so confusesd and frustrated I started to read everything I could, books about tea, online sites and forums (egullet.org has a sleepy but useful tea forum; TeaChat as it was then was a great introduction), and that led me to where I am today, a fan of many teas, mostly drinking C sinensis.

The Celestial Seasonings boxes are gone from my cupboard, but before they disappeared, I'd been studying their tea boxes, and now I've got an herbal tea cupboard stocked with rose hips, hibiscus, chamomile, dried citrus peel, licorice root, linden leaf, lemon grass, raspberry leaf, Korean hydrangea leaf, ginger and galangal roots, holy basil, and I've probably missed a few things, which I mix and match, sometimes with various things from the spice shelves (cinnamon, cloves, mints, even saffron), or fresh herbs from the garden, when I want something different from my usual teas.

I feel a debt to that Emperor's Choice.
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beforewisdom
Posts: 8
Joined: Tue Jan 23, 2018 11:31 am

Fri Oct 12, 2018 11:33 am

Boulder businesses were very loyal to their locally produced brands. I saw celestial seasonings and a brand of chocolate bar everywhere. I didn't get a chance to go there but there was a celestial seasonings themed cafe at the university.

I too had a co-op where I went away to college such a blessing. The town also had an independently owned herb shop. The two were great for getting introduced to many new things.

Emperor's Choice is listed under "new products" at their site, so I guess it has been brought back. I haven't seen it in stores yet. Maybe I'll talk to a few customer service reps.

Thanks for your comment. I know zero about Chinese tea and what you said about "Sea Dyke" ( bad name for 2018 America :) ) was fascinating.

I'm really enthused about celestial seasonings after the nice tour and vacation. I just wish that they didn't use artificial ingredients in some of their blends.

I wrote to the company to tell them it is a turn off, and possibly bad for business in 2018 where you cane easily get ( or make ) many similar blends by logging onto a web site and having it dropped at your door.
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