Courtesy Local Table Tours
One tour requires a hairnet and an appreciation for steeped herbs. The other demands an appetite for adventure.
In 1969, a couple of University of Colorado students collected herbs in a hillside meadow below Boulder’s Flatiron Mountains. They blended the herbs into teas and marketed them to health food stores. Thus, Celestial Seasonings, Boulder’s first big entrepreneurial success story, was born.
“This wasn’t the brainchild of a megacorporation,” said Steve Spencer, guest relations ambassador. “It is a real rags-to-riches entrepreneurial success story.”
Now owned by a natural-food-products corporation, the herbal tea company remains the leader in specialty teas. Loyal fans troop a few miles north of Boulder to Celestial Seasonings headquarters and visitors center for a tasting and tour.
With the required hairnets atop their heads, they walk through the plant, passing shelves stacked with herbs procured from 35 countries. A favorite stop is an olfactory sensation called the mint room, where — you guessed it — pungent mint is stored.
Back in the visitors center, the visitors sip tea and admire original art work created for Celestial Seasonings boxes.
When Spencer was planning the visitors center expansion a few years ago, he discovered the original art for box designs, and he had it framed. Those colorful pieces, along with teapots that were winners in a contest sponsored by the company for several years, have turned the center into a tea-themed art gallery.
Local Table Tours
Cocktails? Cheese? Dessert and coffee? Whatever your taste, Megan Bucholz has a tour.
Her Local Table Tours showcases local foods by taking small groups to several eateries. Visitors can hop on a regularly scheduled tour or have one tailored for their group.
On a Tuesday afternoon in August, a custom tour took in two Pearl Street restaurants and one of the city’s best coffee shops.
“Everything has to be locally owned to be on our tours,” she said.
At Salt, a stacked salad of watermelon, tomato, basil and grilled haloumi cheese, and an old-fashioned with bourbon, Grand Marnier, sweet vermouth, an orange slice and a brandied cherry were hits. A couple of doors down at Tahona, those on the tour learned to distinguish among young and aged tequilas as they snacked on pork and mushroom tacos.
The tour ended on a sweet note a few blocks down on Pearl at the Cup, where fair-trade, organic coffee from Nicaragua is paired with carrot cake, biscotti and other homemade goods baked by owner Wendy Ball.