Apple Zinger Tea-Tails

Fall spiced apple cider tea infused cocktail - alcohol & mocktail options!

Apple Zinger Tea-tails / @loveandlemons

Last week I had the opportunity to go on a super fun trip to Boulder Colorado to visit the headquarters of Celestial Seasonings. I’ve been drinking their tea for years so it was fun to learn more about the process of making tea and meet the wonderful people behind the brand. The trip started with the warmest welcome (the employees greeted us outside, cheering and holding signs with each of our blog names on them!).

Celestial Tea Tour Celestial Tea Tour

I drank about a million cups of tea (Sweet Harvest Pumpkin is totally my new favorite). After that, my highlights of the visit were: listening to Kay Wright (the Director of Botanicals Purchasing) talk about her travels sourcing all of the various herbs, touring the facility (in stylish Tyvek suits & blue hairnets), and tasting (more tea) with Charlie Baden, the Senior Blendmaster.

I found Charlie’s job so fascinating. Even though Celestial is a fairly large company, blending the tea isn’t an exact science. Depending on seasons, regions, and other growing variables, individual ingredients taste different every time (cherries can be more tart, hibiscus can be more or less bitter, etc…)” so he personally tastes and adjusts each blend in order to make sure every box of tea tastes consistent. “The zingers have to zing,” he says.

Celestial Tea Tour

These are some of my favorite tea facts:

– Black tea, green tea, and white tea are all made from the same plant: Camellia Sinensis. It’s a white-flowered evergreen bush native to China and India.

– The difference? Black tea leaves are allowed to oxidize which causes the leaves to darken and bring out a full-bodied flavor. Green tea leaves are steamed immediately after they’re picked so the leaves don’t oxidize (which is why green tea is more mild in flavor). White tea comes from only the first few tender leaves and new buds and it has the most delicate (slightly sweet) flavor. Herbal teas (unless they’re blended with tea leaves), are not actual tea.

– Celestial Seasonings was the first to bring green tea to the mainstream US market in 1995. They began mixing it with white tea in order to make a smoother tasting green tea.

– Independent artists & illustrators are commissioned to create all of the artwork for the tea boxes. (I actually used to save mine and store my art supplies in them)

– The ingredients in Celestial Seasonings Teas come from all over the world, but the teas are blended in Boulder. Many ingredient suppliers have been part of the Celestial family for more than 30 years.

– Celestial Tea bags don’t have strings, tags or individual wrappers which saves 3.5 million pounds of waste from entering landfills each year.

– The Celestial Tea Tour is open to the public and is Boulder’s #1 tourist attraction!

Tea Tips:

– Use filtered or distilled water. (the water you use affects your tea’s taste).

– Don’t over-boil your water for green tea. Bring it just barely to a boil, and remove the tea bag after 3-5 minutes or your green tea will become bitter.

– Watch the clock, not the color. 3-5 minutes for green & black teas, 4-6 minutes for herb teas, 6 minutes for wellness teas.

– It’s ok to squeeze the bag to get the most flavor from your tea.

Celestial Tea Tour, Boulder Colorado

After the tour, I had just a few minutes to stroll around Boulder before we headed to The Kitchen, for a tea-inspired meal. Some of my favorite dishes were: a beet & hazelnut salad with orange tangerine tea dressing, chai roasted squash with wheat berries, and for dessert: rooibos tea sorbet.

I can’t wait to recreate some of the dishes myself. But for now – a tea-tail recipe! Before we left Celestial, they served these cocktails (and some others) for happy hour. This recipe is by Conor McDermott, from Salt who recently won Boulder’s Best Mixologist. At the event, this was served as a non-alcohol drink… of course when I made it later at home I added some bourbon.

Apple Zinger Tea-tails / @loveandlemons

Apple Zinger Tea-Tails

Serves: makes 4 cocktails
  • 16 oz. apple cider
  • 5 bags Celestial Seasonings Cranberry Apple Zinger Tea
  • orange peels from 1 orange
  • small squeeze of orange juice
  • small squeeze of lemon juice
  • 1-2 cinnamon sticks
  • a few cloves
  • tea-infused simple syrup
  • optional: make it alcoholic, add bourbon to taste
tea-infused simple syrup
  • 4 tea bags
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  1. In a medium saucepan, combine the apple cider, tea, orange peel, orange juice, lemon juice, cinnamon and cloves. Simmer for 5 minutes. Rest for 20 minutes, then pour the mixture through a strainer.
  2. Meanwhile, make the simple syrup by combining the tea, sugar and water in a small saucepan. Simmer until the sugar is dissolved. Set aside to cool.
  3. Mix spiced tea mixture with bourbon and simple syrup, to taste. Pour over ice.

This post is sponsored by Celestial Seasonings. All images, words and thoughts are my own. Thank you for supporting the sponsors that support L&L.

Photos of my cocktail were kindly snapped by Kristen of Dine & Dish.


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Rate this recipe (after making it):  

  1. Cass

    What a coincidence! I am new to your blog, which I discovered for reasons entirely unrelated to this post, yet I was in Boulder last week, too (and I’m from Maryland). I dined at Salt after walking around Pearl Street Mall, which you have pictured. Such a cute part of town, isn’t it? Fort Collins was wonderful, as well.

    I will definitely be trying this cocktail, and definitely with bourbon! Love your website. 🙂

  2. Karen

    I didn’t think distilled water was drinkable. Is using it for brewing tea safe?

  3. That sounds like an amazing trip! There are so many headquarters and factories around the U.S. (like the Jelly Belly headquarters!!!!) that I’d love to visit. As a total tea lover, especially of Celestial, I’d love to tour.

  4. Meghan from

    Celestial Seasonings has pulled me through every morning, every day, for a few years now. I’m not ashamed to admit that I drank their Pumpkin Harvest tea all through summer. I love how this recipe is a combination of seasons, with a bit of chill and warmth. Perfect for right now!

  5. sherrie from

    did you make it to the mint room, my favorite part of the tour!! and i am obsessed with tea cocktails!! i have an earl grey whiskey cider one and i can never get enough. totally adding this to my tea-tail repertoire.

    xo sherrie

    • jeanine

      Hi Sherrie – yep, sure did, it was probably my favorite part too (just didn’t have a good photo of it :).

  6. Morgan

    I live in Boulder – hope you enjoyed the visit!

  7. This is one of my favorite tours of all time! Did you survive the Mint Room? 🙂 Love the recipes, very creative.

    • jeanine

      ha, yes, I really loved the mint room 🙂

  8. Eris from

    you have the best recipes!!! Love how they are so seasonal. Can’t wait to try this!

    • jeanine

      oh thank you! you’re so sweet to say 🙂

  9. Kristen

    It was so great to meet you, finally!

  10. I love tea, and Celestial Seasonings actually makes some of the best big box brand-name tea I’ve ever tried, so I whole-heartedly support this post 🙂 The cold tea/apple cider combo is definitely intriguing!

    • jeanine

      thank you Ksenia, I like it too 🙂

  11. I bet this leaves your house smelling deliciously spicy! Definitely trying this drink.

  12. Giulia from

    This is so fun. Back in the late nineties, I had an internship with Celestial Seasoning Marketing in Paris. My job was to work with the European marketing person to promote the tea to stores/shops in the Paris area. I’d also go from store to store with samples to give to potential carriers. Ever since a cup of Sleepy time while watching TV is part of the routine 😉

  13. My mom is obsessed with tea, so for her birthday my sister and I made her a tea book. It had fun facts, tea recipes, history of tea, etc. I’m sure she would’ve LOVED the Celestial Seasonings tour!!

  14. Tina

    Sounds like a fantastic time! In my experience, 3-5 minutes is way too long for green tea. I steep for no longer than 2 minutes or it’s unpalatably bitter.

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Photograph of Jeanine Donofrio and Jack Mathews in their kitchen

Hello, we're Jeanine and Jack.

We love to eat, travel, cook, and eat some more! We create & photograph vegetarian recipes from our home in Chicago, while our shiba pups eat the kale stems that fall on the kitchen floor.