Our first day in Assam at the Elephant Friendly Tea farm. We stayed in the tree house for the night, in the middle of the tea farm, at the edge of the jungle, surrounded by tea. We could hear the elephants, peacocks, and zili (like crickets). This is where our Bodo Black and Green and Dom Dom tea come from.
Thank you tea lovers for a fabulous year in tea for 2017! We are sincerely grateful for your love of tea and using us as your tea source. Lake Missoula Tea Company is excited for what the new year will bring with tea. We are enthusiastic about new teas and blends we plan to bring to the menu. Cheers to you, LMTC, fabulous tea and the New Year 2018!
White tea has a subtle, sweet flavor profile with many health benefits. It is the least produced of all teas, basically it’s picked and whithered until it dries. Stories say white tea was reserved for emperors and high ranking officials because of its short harvest time and it often (not always) consisits purely of buds. Infuse white tea in small volumes to bring out its subtlety. It also counteracts excessive heat and menopause and provides a high level of antioxidants.
Yin Zen (Silver Needles) is one type of white tea and is made from the buds of the tea plant. The silver white “hairs” on the leaf give this tea its name. The buds of the tea plant are sweeter and have more caffeine than the rest of the plant.
Yin Zhen became famous during the Song Dynasty around 1000 years ago. A number of legends arose around it, including that it was only harvested on nights of a full moon, or only by naked young girls or virgins, or only harvested with scissors of gold.
If you’ve had Jasmine, you know it’s subtly sweet and highly fragrant. Not only is pleasing to the nose and tongue, but it is said to have several health benefits:
heart health – helps unclog arteries while lowering bad cholesterol and fatty acids
rich with antioxidants and polyphenol (EGCG)
considered (not proven) that Jasmine tea has anticancer properties (specifically esophageal cancer)
common known benefits of this flower are the anti anxiety properties
help with weight loss
Jasmine tea cultivation generally starts in June and only last a few months. The more traditional method is placing the flowers in basket trays layered over the tea leaves (typically green and white) and left for four hours in what they call “scenting houses”. This absorbs the fragrance and flavor of the jasmine flowers. As you might imagine, this is an intricate and delicate process. Higher grades of jasmine tea can repeat this process up to seven times to get the most flavor.
The flower is speculated to originate in Persia (now Iran) and in the Himalayan mountains in China. Jasmine is very popular in many countries. It is valued for symbols of marriage, religious ceremonies, and festivals in many nations and religions.
Journey to the Source of Andean Tea in Colombia – In February I left Missoula bound for eastern Colombia to visit the home of our South American tea varieties with my parter, Ben. On the road for about a week, we’d seen just two signs of tea: my sister’s house en route to Bogotá (I reminded her our Mammoth Matcha needs refrigeration), and at a supermarket in Cali, Colombia (nearly all are herbal save for one “Chinese Green”). (But do not fear fellow tea enthusiasts, I packed my favorite Kenyan black and to-go steeper from Lake Missoula Tea 😉
Still, our immersion into tea country couldn’t have come soon enough. At 7am our taxi dropped us at the farm’s Administrative Offices in one of those nondescript commercial complexes at the outskirts of town. We wondered if in our limited Spanish we had mistakenly told our driver to drop us in a random back alley. But relief washed over us as a glowing sign of tea leaves appeared.
Employees trickled into the lobby. Obviously surprised by the waiting gringos, they still greeted us with a warm smile and ‘Hola’ or ‘Buenas.’ The woman who mopped around our feet and backpacks even brought us tea with milk! Soon Santiago, our friend, guide, and the International Sales Representative at the farm arrived and we piled into his car. We climbed higher and higher for an hour – no surprise as tea requires high elevation – and Santiago translated between us and his colleague, Maria, all the way. His patience became invaluable to us during our stay as no one else at the farm spoke English.
When we finally reached the property we met Paulo, the manager of the farm. While the health of about 130 acres rests on his shoulders, he found time to guide us and playfully warn us about the snakes we were sure to find on the farm. After several hours of touring the plantation, we chowed on a family-style lunch of tamales with the staff and even the CEO who inquired about our business and the city of Missoula. We shared that we use their Andean Summit Colombian Black as the base for our House Chai, which is sold at different venues throughout Missoula and Montana. Both Santiago and the CEO smiled and nodded with satisfaction.
At the end of our first day, we were ushered to a beautiful guest house on the property where we watched futbol with Sanitago. All of our meals there were prepared by a local woman who fended off our best attempts to help with the dishes. Given a gracious and sincere reception at the farm, no one worked to impress us or put on a show. The staff simply welcomed us into their daily activities and seemed to want us there as much as we wanted to be there.
I will never drink our Colombian teas without thinking about the people we met, from the woman mopping in the lobby to the CEO who shared his table. Now I know that tea is more than a leaf or a drink. For me it has become a symbol of the culture, community, and relationships with individuals at the farms we visit.
Japanese Tea House Teaism in Missoula, by Christina
In a still, mellow lit room, the iron kettle sings. However faded the aged tea-room, everything is absolutely clean and orderly. You hear nothing but the roll of boiling water and your own breath. There are no distractions from this experience. You begin to relax and appreciate this moment. To a Westerner, the tea room, or tea house, may appear to be a dilapidated house for an antiquated tradition. To properly appreciate its important lessons, a little background is needed.
The Japanese term for the tea room is “Sukiya” and the original ideographs (数奇屋) have different meanings. “place of pleasure,” “place of emptiness,” “place of tastefulness,” are a few. The first tea room was created by Sen-no-Rikyu. He perfected the tea ceremony (the Chanoyu) in the 16th century. The tea house is about ten feet square and consists of the tea-room proper. It accommodates no more than five people. There is an anteroom where utensils are washed and arranged, a portico in which guests wait to be summoned, and a garden path. The tea room is constructed with simple materials but its details are worked out with great care. Like the Zen monastery, its modest design aims to inspire feelings of serenity and purity and to uplift visitors above ordinary thoughts.
Inside the tea room, symmetry and repetition are avoided. This is an expression of the Zen view that true beauty is found in the incomplete. No color or design is found twice. If you have a living flower in the room, no painted flower is permitted. If you are using a round tea kettle, the water pitcher should be angular. The placement of vases or incense burners should not be symmetrical.
To initiate the tea ceremony, guests silently approach the tea room. One by one noiselessly bend low into the room through a door not more than three feet tall – an action intended to inculcate humility. Each will take their seat after paying their respect to a picture or flower arrangement (the Tokonoma). The host will not enter the room until all guests are seated. Only the boiling water in the kettle can be heard. The light is subdued. Nothing in the room is new except for the bamboo dipper and the linen napkin. Both are immaculately white. Matcha, the powdered form of green tea, is eventually prepared and shared with guests. It is believed that in this empty, simple, temporary surrounding guests can concentrate on their present experience, undisturbed.
In a culture where respite seems harder than ever to find, do we not need the tea room more than ever?
Black Currant Black Tea-History of the Forbidden Fruit – had a rough start in the U.S. Black currants, native to Europe and Asia, were once popular in the U.S. However, farming the shrub was banned in the early 1900’s due to white pine blister rust. White pine blister rust is a fungus that jumps form white pine to black currant plants and back to white pine. Blister rust can eventually kill the tree. The infamous plants were banned in the United States with the hopes of eliminating the fungus. However, black currants are not the only plants that host blister rust. Banning black currant plants hasn’t elimintated blister rust. Gooseberry and other plants in the Ribes genus are also a hosts.
The federal ban was lifted from some states starting in the 1960s. The fruit remains largely unknown in the U.S. and has yet to become popular like it is in many other parts of the world.
This fruit is high in vitamin C and E and antioxidants. The flavor is tart yet sweet, just like our Black Currant Black Tea.
Thank you for your love of Tea, cheers to 2017! All of us at Lake Missoula Tea Company thank you for your business. We truly appreciate your trust in us to meet your tea needs. Lake Missoula exists because of your love and appreciation of fabulous tea. We look forward to bringing you the best in tea in 2017. Happy holidays to you and cheers to 2017!
Visit Lake Missoula Tea Company in Missoula, Montana the next time you are downtown. Stop in the tea shop. Try a new kind of tea, mingle with others, read a book. We can serve any tea we carry and we offer carry locally made scones and jam. We sell the best tea in bulk sizes to fit your needs.