It was the Swiss alpine guides who brought tea culture from Europe to the Rockies in the early 20th Century as the Canadian Pacific railroad began ferrying tourists west. These guides were hired to take trekkers up mountain trails to the stunning summits of the Rocky Mountains and built little tea houses to host the hikers to enjoy a warm cuppa and a scone while taking in the scenery. Some of these century-old tea houses are still serving customers at high altitudes after a bracing hike up the mountain. Fortunately, the less ambitious visitors to Banff can still enjoy the tradition of tea in an historic building right there on Bear St.
Jolene’s Tea House (formerly Natur’el) is housed in the adorable Old Crag Cabin, which has been a bakery, a newspaper office, a butcher’s shop, a gas station and a metal working studio among other things since its construction in 1888. Now, it’s the home to a mecca for tea lovers at Jolene’s. With dozens of delicious loose-leaf blends created on onsite, plus tea bags, tea ware and collections there’s something intriguing for every palate here. Looking for a brilliant stocking stuffer? Pick up (or order) the Taste of Banff gift pack made with organic ingredients and featuring flavours like creamy Earl Grey, wild blueberry rooibos, alpine peppermint and others. Or, you could hold out for the Crag Cabin-shaped tea box they’re bringing out for Christmas. No photo is available at press time, but the boxes will be ready in November. Also enjoy Jolene’s blends at local restaurants like The Bison and Hello Sunshine who are serving up tea-infused cocktails at the bar.