In December, PranaLens got to spend a month in the Roaring Fork Valley (Aspen and beyond) to create some video content for Two Leaves and a Bud; a world-renowned, organic tea company based in a little mountain town with tons of character! Basalt is just outside of Aspen, right on the river in its own humble little pocket away from the tourism and the Gucci; vibrant people, abundant art, athleticism, and a spirit of the outdoors. Basalt is also home to an Iranian bodyworker named Jashmid who gave me the gnarliest bodywork session of my life. I'm still not sure what happened there.
The folks in the valley consider a 2-hour hike/skin up a mountain to be an average afternoon workout. Mountain biking 40 miles along the mountain range is just another day. Powder days shut down the whole town. Needless to say, they're passionate about winter, which is why Two Leaves donates a portion of their proceeds to Protect Our Winters.
There's more of a hardcore athleticism to this valley than any other mountain town I've been to in Colorado. Everyone is in shape. Literally. Everyone. Except tourists. You can find them next to me at the hot springs.
Avalanche Hot Springs was a gem tucked in the peaks, between Carbondale and Redstone. I've lived in some epic landscapes in my life, but as I drove that windy road I kept asking myself, is this real?!
Anyways, back to the tea! Put simply: it's the best damn cup of tea you'll ever taste. I'm not the best judge of teas by any means, but I learned about the different ways tea is distributed -- how it's grown, harvested, shipped, displayed, steeped, shared, smelled, seen -- and I'm blown away by how much it varies from one company to another. As with everything, we pay for what we get - and without getting into it let's just say, I'll never skimp again.
The tea itself wasn't what brought me out there, though. Founder of Two Leaves, Richard Rosenfeld, struck me as a down-to-earth, people-focused, relational business owner with an avid passion for the outdoors and the environment. He's a Colorado spirit first, and a tea-enthusiast second. I felt right at home! Most of the employees at Two Leaves didn't come in with experience in their role, but Richard wanted to give them a place to grow into that role. It has created a sense of loyalty and family on the team, and obvious success for the company as well. People first - cheers to that!
Can't book-end this without a little love for specifically for Carbondale. Carbondale was the town that I called home while I was there. Gorgeous views, delicious restaurants/cafés, inviting, warm, and vibrant people. I befriended local artists and photographers (ie., Carl Zoch and Sarah Uhl who work for REI and Outside Magazine), and their way of approaching their work shifted the way I looked forward into 2017.
Mount Sopris is Carbondale's mascot and guiding light. I loved the way the sun kissed its peak before it set every evening on my drive home.
A large part of my time with Two Leaves was spent creating recipe how-to videos using their Matcha and their Strong Brew Chai concentrate. Personally, I fell in love with the matcha. Their source is pure and the quality is very close to ceremony grade. Check out a few of the videos for tasty inspiration - and if you're in the Roaring Fork Valley, stop by Bonfire Café in Carbondale to order any of these drinks!