A people's community publication based in Asheville, North Carolina and Athens, Georgia.
Sunday, August 24, 2014
Life, Community, Relations—one cup of tea at a time
A few typo errors and missing quote marks slipped our eyes in the
print version of this article. We will cite those errors in an
“Erratum” notice in the next/Sept issue of The Indie. Our
story of Dobra Tea strikes a chord.
ago, in the northern mountains of the Philippines, tribes and
lowlanders, Communist rebels and government troops, were mired in
both cultural and political polar extremes that it seemed dialogue
was a quixotic proposition. Peace was gasping like a flower caught in
a hale of monsoon rain and typhoon wind. And then, a ceasefire was
declared and “tapuy” (home-crafted rice wine) was served on the
negotiating table. Then peace starts to emerge like rainbow after a
may be simplifying (or idealizing) it but a good brew at the center
of any discourse keeps the compromises alive and resolutions open.
story of Dobrá Tea, as its website narrates, begins in Prague during
the last few years of Communism, where a group of young tea lovers
began meeting to sample rare Indian, Chinese and Japanese teas
smuggled into Czechoslovakia.
of a shortage of foreign currency, high quality teas were then
available exclusively to the Party, State and Military elite. Then
came the `Velvet Revolution' and the Fall of Communism in 1989. In
1992, `The Society of Tea Devotees' was formed and the following
year, Dobra Tea's first Bohemian-style tearoom, Dobrá Čajovna,
opened in Prague... The Čajovna (tearoom) became a shelter, a place
for safety, where like minded individuals could gather and taste the
world of tea. Much success blossomed with Dobrá's idea and the
company began to spread its tea concept to many small towns
throughout Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland."
2003 Dobrá Tea opened its first US tearoom in Burlington, VT then
one followed in Portland, Maine and then in 2001, a Moroccan-motif
incarnation opened in Asheville. In August last year, a Japanese
style Tearoom was up in Black Mountain.
story of Dobra Tea, and the entrepreneurial saga of Snavely and his
partner/co-owner Lindsay Thomas, certainly play like a microcosm of a
Merchant-Ivory epic... Yet Snavely's demeanor doesn't seem to exude
such magnificent cross-continental journey in search for tea. Or the
meaning of life in a teabag.
is a very universal beverage. It is a beverage and a plant that is
cultivated throughout the world, in every single continent, and it
brings forth community and togetherness,” Snavely, slight and
bearded, told The Indie with a feline soft-spokenness like an ascetic
meandering over words of wisdom than a Brooks Brothers-garbed
business dude spewing market economics with synthetic confidence.
Then he declares, “I like to say that the social importance of
meetings, and togetherness and relationships are formed and founded
is a man who believes in his tea like no other that I've ever known.
“I have been traveling the world for about ten years now to meet
with tea farmers and then discover new varieties,” he enthuses. As
a testimony of his beautiful tea madness, even Dobra Tea's menu comes
out more like a textbook than a look-see breakdown of choices—85
pages of literature. Says he, “Each tea has its own story that is
based on our travels.”
are a few samplings from the menu cum journal.
] Chinese Green Tea: Dian Lu Eshan. Remembering the Tea King. A
remarkable, fresh green China tea produced in the famous tea province
of Yunnan. No other tea is comparable to this sparkling, pale green
infusion which offers unique and inimitable delights of taste and
aroma. It is cultivated at high altitude, with long, silver,
downy-tipped leaves firmly rolled lengthwise. This tea promotes
health, and has a mild, euphoric effect.
] Japanese Tea: Bancha Kyoto. A common type of green Japanese tea,
intended for everyday drinking. A small, flat, light green leaf with
yellow tints, it is smooth and easy to drink, with the characteristic
freshness of Japanese greens. [ ] Vietnamese Tea. Che Xanh. A
remarkable Vietnamese green tea, whose leaves are picked with
extraordinary care. A vegetal infusion with hints of both Chinese and
Japanese greens due to processing. This tea is gently steamed, then
pan-fried to stop oxidation. It will awaken a drifting mind, and is
excellent hot or chilled.
] Korean Tea. Nok Cha. A seasonal variety of green tea from the
Jirishan mountain range on the southern Korean coast. This light
infusion conceals an unseen taste "on the boundary" between
Chinese and Japanese teas. The leaves are gently steamed and then
pan-fried to complete the drying process, offering a savory, oceanic
ranges from $3.50 to $5.50, which aren't bad at all.
aside, a most fascinating facet of Snavely and Thomas' brainchild is
its deep affinity with local-ness. While they bring culture to the
table via their tea, they also interface their menu with what the
community could offer, like a light fare of sweet snacks, all 100
percent gluten-free. Some of their collaborators are Asheville bakers
Silvermoon Chocolates, Herban Baker, French Broad Chocolate Lounge,
and Blue Door Bakery.
like to bring the community side of this business through
collaboration, which is very important in Asheville,” Snavely adds.
There is no way to end this story but pause it and go check out the
thick journal of tea choices—before Andrew Snavely and Lindsay
Thomas add more to what's already available. “A new shipment of
Japanese Green Tea just came in, and later this week...”
Dobra Tea, life is alive and community is continually in flowing
engagement. Indeed, that's how relations and relationships are built,
nurtured and nourished—one cup of tea at a time.
TEA Asheville is located at 78
N Lexington Ave, Asheville, NC 28801 (828 575-2424). Open: Mon—Wed,
9am – 10pm; Thu—Sat, 9am – 11pm; Sunday, 11am – 7pm. DOBRA
TEA Black Muntain is at 120 Broadway Street (828.357.8530). Open:
Mon—Sat, 9am – 7pm; Sunday, 11am – 7pm. More info: