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Colorado Livin' / Humor

Not Your Typical Tea Party

Last week, Amber and I were invited to head up north to Celestial Seasonings’ 40th Anniversary Event. We were going to partake in the celebration and meet the Blend Master, Charlie Baden!

And, I was going to try my hardest to refrain from asking if the event was sponsored by the Letter T.

When we arrived at Celestial Seasonings, we were greeted with quite an elaborate spread of foods, beverages, and a full evening of entertainment. We realized that this wasn’t just a 40th Anniversary Celebration, this was a reunion. There were employees from all eras and areas attending. Some had flown in for this event. Everyone had name-tags with their names, former (or current) titles, and the years of their service.

You could tell that they weren’t just coworkers; they were family.

That’s what struck me the most about Celestial Seasonings. Yes, it’s a successful Colorado company. Yes, it’s a company that started out in small-town Boulder and grew to a market of 60 countries. Yes, the event was a Zero Waste Event, meaning every single piece of trash from the party was either composted or recycled. But, what struck me the most was the passion for not only their product, but their people.

The stories we heard from former employees and other members of “the family” were very reminiscent of a family reunion. One of the ladies in attendance had known the owners since the early 1970s because she “was a Boulder girl, and everyone knew everyone back then.” We heard about the woman who used to paint the artwork on wooden panels for the different teas. She lived in small mountain town and would bring her artwork down and then head back up to her mountain studio to work on another one. We heard about work days broken up by an impromptu volleyball game on the lawn to ease tensions.

Celestial Seasonings Wall QuoteAll around us, people were visiting and catching up with longtime friends. They were admiring the mural on the wall, depicting the beautiful artwork and quotes used in the packaging and candid shots of the workers over the last 40 years. They would point and laugh at their outfits or long hair and then share stories of a time that seems so long ago, yet only the blink of an eye away.

My favorite quote on the wall was, “Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished,” by Lao Tzu. This is a refreshing quote, but something tells me Nature doesn’t have a Twitter Account, Facebook Account or a blog to keep updated. On the other hand, maybe Nature is on to something?  Of course, as one of my friends reminded me, her spiders do update their “web” sites every day.  But, I digress…

JoAnn interviewing Charlie BadenIn the midst of all this excitement, we were given the opportunity to talk to Charlie Baden, Blend Master. He has been with Celestial Seasonings for almost 35 years. When we asked him how he came to be the Blend Master, he said it all started because of Rock and Roll. When he was 11-years old, he learned to play the drums and fell in love with the music. Years later, when he’d completed a half-year of college, the opportunity to go on tour with a band presented itself, and he took it. Although he was following his dream, life on the road wasn’t what he expected, and he hated it. Ready to start something new, he visited a friend in Estes Park, Colorado. The minute he saw the mountains, he realized he could never go back to the East Coast where he was raised. He’d found his new home.

He needed a job, and that’s when he met the founder of Celestial Seasonings. He started working there in 1975 as an “essential processor,” sorting stones out of the usable product. He held that job for 10 years before he moved into the Blend Master position. As Blend Master, he is responsible for making sure Celestial Seasonings’ 200+ ingredients meet the rigorous standards.

A lot has changed over the last 40 years, yet a lot has remained the same. Back when Charlie started at the company, the tea wasn’t sold in individual bags. They focused on single flavors, and the medicinal aspect of the teas was highly touted. They were creating a soothing tea for a world that was in turmoil. This tea was packaged with beautiful artwork and inspiring quotes. Some of that is still the tradition with Celestial Seasonings’ teas, and they’ve incorporated today’s trends and interest in super-fruits and antioxidants into their product, which now includes more than 100 teas.

Celestial Seasonings is located in Boulder.  I’ve always wanted to take a tour of the facility and factory, but I’ve never had the chance. After seeing how cool the facility is, the Factory Tour would be a fun outing to do with my girlfriends one of these days. (Children under the age of 5 are not allowed on the Factory Tour, so I’ll have to wait to bring my family on a visit.)

As the Celestial Seasonings’ “Family” continued to celebrate into the evening, Amber and I made our quiet exit. We’d been given a chance to witness a wonderful reunion, and it was nice to see such a personable side to a company.

Congratulations to Celestial Seasonings on their 40th Anniversary! Here’s to many more tea parties in the years to come!

What about you? Have you ever worked for a company that seemed like family to you?

JoAnn
Author: JoAnn

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5 Comments

  1. Mile High Mamas! We’re family. 🙂

    Fun recap of a great event. I really want to do a Factory Tour after seeing what a great setup they have there.

    Here’s to the Blend Master!

  2. We are like family; aren’t we!? I love the Mile High Mamas! I have worked in companies that seemed like family. One of my former employers still sends out a monthly newsletter to everyone, keeping us all updated. I love feeling connected after all these years!

    And, with the weather the way it’s been, I think I may break out the Celestial Seasonings: Sweet Coconut Thai Chai. 🙂

  3. I toured CS many years ago and LOVED inhaling there.

    Thanks for the awesome inside story. What a great interview!

    Love, your MHM sister.

  4. Girls, you are so right – I love the community we have here on MHM!

    JoAnn, I thought for sure you were going to ask everyone to share their favorite Celestial Seasonings tea! I can’t help myself – Sleepytime. My neighbors use the blueberry tea to make iced tea which is pretty awesome too.

    Now I just need to go take the tour. 🙂

  5. Awww, thanks, Lori!

    Jenna, that question would be too obvious, right? 😉 You’re in good company, because Sleepytime is their Number One selling tea!

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