There’s nothing better than curling up with a blanket and warm drink when the weather is cold. One of these preferred warm drinks is tea, so it should come as no surprise that January is National Hot Tea Month. While residents of the city could get their most basic tea needs met at the grocer, specialty-blended and higher quality tea warranted a trip to the Ceylon Tea Company.
R. S. Coolbaugh opened the Ceylon Tea Company in April 1900 at 714 ½ Main Street. An ad in the Cañon City Record promoted “fresh roast coffee, fine flavored teas, and choice extracts” sold at the store. Spices and baking powder were also sold there. The teas were imported directly, the coffee fresh roasted daily, and Coolbaugh mixed the tea blends himself.
In 1901, the store moved into the Record Block at 521 Main Street. The store was said to be elegantly decorated and china, bamboo work, and other novelties were sold. In January 1906, Charles Duncan and Ed Willis purchased the tea store. Duncan had been chief clerk for Coolbaugh before his purchase of the business. The pair were in business together for five years until Duncan bought out Willis. In 1918, the store was moved to 517 Main Street.
In 1922, Duncan’s son, Donald, joined his father in the business. Fred Halstead drove a horse and cart for some time with the business, taking orders and delivering to local residents. Duncan sold the store to Mrs. E. R. James in 1945. The store was still located at 517 Main Street in 1951 but it closed within the next few years.
Happy National Hot Tea Month!
The information presented in this article is compiled using research conducted by the Royal Gorge Regional Museum and History Center.