The Lake Agnes Tea House in Alberta’s Banff National Park opened to hungry and thirsty hikers in 1905. This is no simple rest stop with only Lipton on hand. Instead, expect everything from 100 Monkeys white tea to Bora Bora mango rooibos. When it’s open during the warmer months of the year, the Lake Agnes Tea House offers 100 types of tea and a full snack menu, with everything prepared on propane. Up this high in the mountains, there’s no electricity, road, or running water. Staff have to hike supplies up from town, and trek trash back down.
But why is tea the drink of choice here, and not, say, coffee? Well, in the early 1900s, the Canadian Pacific Railway sought to make this neck of the woods a popular tourist stop. So they imported Swiss mountain guides to lead tourists up the slopes. The Swiss guides, in turn, brought along their tradition of mountain huts that served tea, which remains the customary hot drink in lodges and hotels in the area, as well as at Lake Agnes. While the tea is excellent, it’s all the better enjoyed amongst the glorious mountains and the shining water below.
Know Before You Go
The Lake Agnes Teahouse is generally open from June to October. Checking their website to make sure they're open in advance is wise. To reach the teahouse, start at Chateau Lake Louise and follow the signs indicating the way to the teahouse. Take care to follow the uphill trail through the woods, as the path around the lake will lead to a different, harder-to-reach teahouse.