drink matcha
Japanese Tea House Teaism in Missoula

In a still, mellow lit room, the iron kettle sings.  However faded the aged tea-room, everything is 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 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. Sen-no-Rikyu created the first tea room. 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 bends 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.

Do we not need the tea room more than ever in a culture where respite seems harder than ever to find?

Soothe your soul and enjoy a traditional serving of Mammoth Matcha or Strawberry Matcha any day at Lake Missoula Tea Company.

Written by Christina Bovinette

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136 E Broadway St, Missoula
Judy Hogg
Best store in Montana possibly in all of the United States. I don't know. This is the first Gong Fu tea shop I've ever been to. I came in for a matcha whisk because I donated mine to a museum. Before I left a random customer who was introduced to me as a regular bought me tea. I hugged him which isn't something I normally do. But I was incredibly thankful. Then the man behind the counter gave me a free sample. I went in looking for a simple tool and left with tea and a happy spirit. I am looking forward to making it back as soon as possible! I loved it. I think it will always hold a special place in my blood pumping organ.
Sari Barnes
This atmosphere of this shop is so wonderfully cozy and pleasant. The menu has such a nice selection of to-go options and the loose teas to purchase for home brewing are phenomenal and in vast selection. The service was quick and friendly. I came here with my family and we bought many of the different teas to try, as well as some to-go teas. My sister and I really enjoyed their house Chai. It was the perfect amount of spice and tea, like a spicy hug for your soul. I will be recommending this shop to others in the future.
Brooke Blackler
I've been going to Lake Missoula Tea Company for years, and recently have had the privilege of putting some of their tea in my store. The quality of the tea is fantastic, and the blends are delightful. I have also attended one of their tasting / learning events and it was great. I highly recommend their downtown store for meeting with friends, family or even just for a nice place to go and have a cup of perfectly brewed tea.
Tim Specht
Amazing variety great prices and they'll brew top shelf teas you may be reluctant to buy before trying for a dollar more. Great selection for Missoula. Friendly knowledgeable staff and beautiful tea sets and accessories
Ashley Nelson
The atmosphere was so relaxing and pleasant I could stay there all day! The staff are super helpful and polite and helped me with all my questions (not to mention some helpful tips from patrons as well). The tea they have is top notch and all the selection you could ask for