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Jess McNally and Jolene Brewster posing together

The challenges of opening a tea shop in the busy tourist town of Banff

Mario Toneguzzi |

Jolene Brewster’s ties to the Rockies really start at her family’s roots in the area. They are among the pioneers of Banff’s hospitality industry hosting tours and hikes throughout the Rockies since the early 1900’s. The lifelong Banff resident seeks the harmony of nature, activity, & community on a daily basis. With an degree in Land Resource Management, the equestrian and former Stampede Queen (current ambassador for the Calgary Stampede) founded Natur’el Tea in 2005 which rebranded Jolene’s Tea House upon opening a retail spot on Bear Street this year. Jolene’s entrepreneurial spirit is dedicated to a deep rooted passion for people, health, and happiness.

Jess McNally was born and raised in Alberta, and grew up ski racing at Lake Louise. She is passionate about the environment and ecology, and received her undergraduate and master’s degrees in Earth Systems from Stanford University. After university she worked as a science journalist and a vegetable farmer before deciding to become a Buddhist monastic. She spent three years living at Zen Mountain Monastery in New York. She travelled to Asia where she was ordained in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. She lived in the Indian Himalayas for two years, with most of that time spent in solitary meditation retreat. Afterwards, she spent a year in Madison, Wisconsin, where she was a fellow at The Center for Healthy Minds, which is a global leader in studying mind, happiness and well-being.

About four years ago Jess decided to take off her monastic robes and move back to Canada. Her family had moved to Banff and she’d always loved these mountains, so it was an easy decision to live here.

Jess has always loved tea, and was delighted when Jolene approached her in 2020 to become a partner in the business.


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