Quantcast

Lake Missoula Tea Company creates international connections - KPAX.com | Continuous News | Missoula & Western Montana

Lake Missoula Tea Company creates international connections

Posted: Updated:
A Western Montana business is crossing continents to create cultural connections. (MTN News photo) A Western Montana business is crossing continents to create cultural connections. (MTN News photo)
(MTN News photo) (MTN News photo)
Lake Missoula Tea Company Botanical Lead Christina Bovinette. (MTN News photo) Lake Missoula Tea Company Botanical Lead Christina Bovinette. (MTN News photo)
MISSOULA -

A Western Montana business is crossing continents to create cultural connections.

In March, Lake Missoula Tea Company Botanical Lead Christina Bovinette returned from a nearly month-long trip to Colombia in search of quality tea in a place ruled by coffee.

Colombia's average annual coffee production of 11.5 million bags is the third total highest in the world, after Brazil and Vietnam. But a small, organic farm is pushing back on the coffee culture and that’s just part of what attracted the Lake Missoula Tea Company to visit the farm.

Lake Missoula Tea Company owners Jake and Heather Kreilick and Bovinette’s goal for the journey was to establish a relationship with the farmers there and ensure the quality of the tea. 

Bovinette said that in the past, the Kreilicks have traveled to Indonesia, Taiwan, China, and Kenya to ensure a quality and close relationship with the small farms they work with and to see, in person, the quality of the product they sell from their downtown Missoula shop. This time they sent Bovinette.

She explained that this small farm nestled on a nature reserve in South America is the country’s only tea farm, and one of just a handful on the entire continent. The farm focuses on more than just providing tea; their mission promotes sustainable farming, social responsibility and environmental stewardship.

“[The farm is] experimenting with tea and trying to build a tea market in Colombia and they are unique in that they are also trying to instill these environmental and social values in the region in a very poor region that is not interested in the least in environmental stewardship and sustainability. Those concepts are just not in the consciousness at all,” Bovinette said.

But this farm pays its employees a standard wage, providing greater security. The common practice on tea plantations is to pay pickers by the bushel. Bovinette says the employees live in the nearby town and many of their children attend the schools the tea company helps support. She verified all of that during her trip earlier this year.

Bovinette described what she saw in Colombia during her stay.

"I saw the farmers picking the tea and you are standing in this vast sea of leaves on these rolling hills and there are just these pickers out there picking tea leaves at an impressive speed. You see the big barrels they bring into the facility and they are ceiling high and then at the end of the process you realize that all of that work and all of that volume of tea produces just like a handful of dried tea leaves,” Bovinette said. "You see that and you really feel connected to the process and you really feel humbled and grateful."

She admits that sometimes, even for her, the human connection gets lost when picking and purchasing teas in America.

"I think I have to speak from a personal experience. I just never thought of the individuals that were behind the process. The humans that are there, the mothers who bring their kids to the tea fields to be there while they are bending over, sweat dripping off their noses, flies buzzing around, picking leaves all day long. They are bringing in their kilos to be weighed and paid. All of that is daily activity there, but here we just have no idea. So I guess it is the human element that I think is missing a lot of the time,” Bovinette said.

Beyond the humanitarian efforts the Lake Missoula Tea Company hopes to promote alongside the farm in Colombia, Bovinette said, simply put, these teas are great. When most people think of tea, oftentimes they think of the east, but Bovinette says the flavors in the Colombian teas are much different because the farm blends with fruits native to the region.

The Missoula Tea Company has three teas available to try in the shop now (the Andean Princess, Cloud Forest Colombian Green, and Colombia Black) with plans to add more in the future. Bovinette said they also hope to host an exchange with the tea farm, bringing them to Missoula and even providing a connection between the farm and the University of Montana.

Top Trending Videos

WEATHER
Powered by Frankly

© KPAX.com 2017, KPAX.com
A CORDILLERA COMMUNICATIONS Station
All rights reserved
Privacy Policy, | Terms of Service, and Ad Choices

Can't find something?