Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Jane Austen Tea for Michigan JASNA

Jane Austen and tea - a pairing as perfect as Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy - and Barb's TEA Shop had the opportunity to celebrate the well-suited match this past weekend with the Michigan chapter of the Jane Austen Society North America (JASNA). Last Sunday, BTS presented an "Austentacious Tea" to Austen enthusiasts at the Earhart Manor House on the campus of Concordia University in Ann Arbor.
An Austentacious Tea at the Earhart Manor House

Built in the 1930's and filled with period furnishings, the manor house was the ideal venue to get us started on our journey to the past. Drinking Twinings tea, just like Jane did, we traveled back to the Regency period. After discussing tea sources, fashions and Marie Antoinette's fine china (yes, there is an Austen connection!), we finished our presentation with a raffle of two packages of Jane Austen tea (a delicious green tea flavored with garden rose petals and chamomile available at Barb's TEA Shop's on-line store).

Twinings tea, a favorite of Jane Austen, was served.

We concluded the event in the dining room with more pots of Twinings finest and delicious afternoon tea fare, including savories, sweets and scones. Although much has changed since Jane Austen penned her novels,  one constant is the great time to be had when friends gather for tea.
Michigan JASNA members in the dining room for tea

For more information on an Austentacious Tea and other Barb's TEA Shop seminars, contact us at or 248-840-4356.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Celestial Seasonings: Tea Tour, Tastings and Tea Shop in Boulder

In February, my husband and I had the good fortune to combine business with pleasure with a quick trip to Boulder, Colorado. While there, we met up with family and I got to check a few more tea spots off my tea visit wish list. We had afternoon tea at The Brown Palace in nearby Denver (see blog entry from February, 2012) and scheduled the other must-see visit back in Boulder at Celestial Seasonings.
Entry to Celestial Seasonings Tea and Gift Shop

With a scenic mountain backdrop, the Celestial Seasonings headquarters is a bright, cheery series of buildings located on Sleepytime Drive, a nod to the company's best selling tea, Sleepytime. We came for the tea tour, but there's a cafeteria and tea shop, both of which we took advantage during our visit.

The tour takes approximately 45 minutes and it's a good idea to get there a little bit ahead of the time you'd like to start, since they tend to fill up fast. The tour begins in a small theater where a short film is played that tells the incredible story of a small cottage industry that grew into a large corporation that now serves customers all over the world.
My husband Chris, and my sister-in-law Cara shopping for tea.

Once inside the production facility, we were asked to turn off cameras and follow our energetic guide. We were shown the immense storage bins for the ingredients that are part of the special blends of many of Celestial Seasonings unique teas. Because tea easily soaks in flavors of what's nearby, the mix of herbs and seasonings are kept stored tight and separate from the tea.
Standing in front of the Tour Center.

The most fascinating place on the tour, for me, anyway, was The Peppermint Room. Locked in a storage room with a garage-style door, our guide lead us in and shut said door behind us. Immediately, the peppermint oil hits you hard, as our guide explained, it attacks the soft tissues. Our eyes welled up and breathing became refreshingly intense. While there, we learned some new uses for peppermint tea (like placing the tea bags in your shower when you are suffering from a cold and stuffy nose) and then we were released back into the production facility to conclude our trip at the packaging area. Watching the conveyor belts move the tea packages along to their final destination was like standing in the middle of a "How It's Made" episode.Amazing!

After the tour, we sampled tea from large silver urns before heading to the tea shop to stock up on Celestial Seasonings famous tea and charming branded merchandise. I came back with a few gift baskets to share and an adorable teapot for myself.

For more information on what's in store for you at Celestial Seasonings, see The Detroit Tea Examiner's recent article, Celestial Seasonings Tea: experience 40 years of tea making in Boulder or visit Celestial Seasonings website.