Nestled at the foot of the lofty Rocky Mountains, the friendly college town of Boulder, Colorado is a hub of fitness, health food, and entrepreneurship that has garnered many accolades, including America’s Most Active, Happiest, and Healthiest city. Blending in with Boulder’s lively pedestrian shopping district and flavorful food scene are several “teattractions” worth savoring while you’re in town.
Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse
Nearly 35 years ago, a small group of Boulderites decided to defrost the icy relations between the U.S. and the Soviet Union by lobbying Soviet officials to establish a sister city. They eventually selected Dushanbe (the current capital of Tajikistan) and doggedly pursued officials there. The group’s persistence paid off in 1987, when the mayor of Dushanbe visited Boulder to cement the relationship and announce a fabulous gift—a handcrafted traditional teahouse—as a lasting gesture of goodwill and friendship.
Erected in 1998, the Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse is a stunning display of Tajik culture and art. The only Persian-style teahouse in the Western Hemisphere, the handcrafted building features traditional Persian designs, including a central hammered-copper sculpture that highlight gardens and water. Along the sides, intricately carved white plaster panels form elaborate frames for the mirrored walls.
Visitors and locals all enjoy gathering at Boulder’s teahouse to sip a pot of premium tea and gaze at the intricately painted ceiling, which is supported by hand-embossed cedar pillars carved by master craftsmen. The teahouse is also a full-service restaurant with a full bar and a rotating menu of savory international fare.
During the summer of 1969, a small group of young entrepreneurs from Boulder began to pick and dry Rocky Mountain herbs and mix them to create their own brand of tea. Originally housed in a barn, the operation quickly blossomed into North America’s largest specialty tea manufacturing operation, which now produces more than 1.6 billion tea bags a year.
Still based in Boulder, Celestial Seasonings offers free 45-minute tours of one of the industry’s most technologically advanced facilities. The tours begin in the cheerful visitor center, where you can sample any of the dozens of teas the Hains Celestial Group currently makes, and then explore the factory, where you can see boxes of your favorite flavor whizzing through the space age-looking production line.
The tour follows the entire tea bag-making process, from sourcing exotic ingredients like hibiscus and acai, to cleaning, cutting, and blending the herbs, to packing them in biodegradable bags. The highlight, however, is visiting the famous Mint Room, where the normally invigorating aroma is so strong that it can make eyes water.
Following the tour, you can visit the tea shop, which offers discount products and specialty tea items, and enjoy a housemade breakfast or lunch in the vibrant Celestial Café.
No visit to Boulder is complete without stopping by one or more of the dozens of local coffee shops to enjoy a steaming hot (or iced) chai: a mixture of tea, spices, and milk that traditionally hails from India. Boulder-area brewers have put their own spin on this refreshing beverage by “microbrewing” small batches under strictly controlled conditions to maximize its characteristic flavor.
Bhakti Chai is a brew of Fair Trade tea, pepper, fennel, cardamom, and clove mixed with cane juice and lots of fragrant ginger. Sanctuary Chai’s traditional blend features green or black tea mixed with tangy cayenne, and Third Street Chai has several delicious flavors made with freshly ground spices, including Mystic Masala Spice and the evocatively named Dragon Tongue Ginger. While in town, enjoy sampling one—or all—of them!