Celebrate Lake Missoula Tea Company's 5th anniversary with a sip


What you're drinking: The Sweet Colombian at Lake Missoula is a black tea with almost no bitterness. Have it without any milk or sugar and the natural sweetness comes through. "There's nothing added, it's just a straight black tea with a sweet tone to it," says tea barista/leaftender Lauren Donat. It's the smoothest black tea I've tasted, with just a little astringency at the end.

Why you're drinking it: Times are stressful, times are hard, the news never stops coming. It's getting cold outside. Don't you want to sit in a nice, warm, aromatic shop and relax? Without getting too jacked up on coffee? A nice, pleasant cup of tea hits the spot. Donat presents me with a lovely cup and saucer and a small glass pot on the side containing the extra. I take a deep breath and feel safe and calm.

Where it comes from: Colombia. As in the home of fictional coffee mascot Juan Valdez. Turns out they grow tea there, too, on just one farm in the Andean Mountains. Lake Missoula has partnered with that farm's sustainable division, Bitaco, to distribute their tea in the western U.S. Now they use Colombian Black to make their house chai and Andean Princess for some of their fruity iced tea blends. Owner Jake Kreilick says he's excited to serve the Cacao Kisses blend, which has cacao husks and nibs blended in for a dark chocolately bite.

When you're drinking it: Anytime at Lake Missoula (136 E. Broadway St.), or Thursday, Oct. 5, from 7 to 9 p.m., when Lake Missoula is throwing itself a fifth anniversary party at the Public House (130 E. Broadway). Several of their Colombian partners—Santiago, Andres and Juan—will be there to give a talk and slideshow about Bitaco's sustainability practices and present a tasting of five Colombian teas.

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