“I want people to come here for healing and wellness. This town is filled with healers, and the community needs a public space that is family-friendly, alcohol-free and a place where people are able to have a true, open-hearted experience connecting through tea,” Andrew Snavely says.
The tea expert and owner of Dobra Tea began his journey of tea knowledge while in college in Vermont. In 2005, Andrew began annual trips to Asia to source tea from organic tea gardeners. He has traveled all over Asia to meet farmers and continue positive buying relationships and introduce new varieties.
Dobra Tea began as a Czech tea house in Burlington, Vermont, in 2003. Since then, Andrew has successfully established locations downtown on Lexington Avenue as well as on Haywood Road in West Asheville.
“We love to learn traditions and culture of tea and bring it back to the tea house,” Andrew says. “Our staff training is a two-week period of learning the world of teas in each category. Our team learns the teas by variety, preparation and service.”
The walls of Dobra Tea are filled with different sizes and shapes of teapots and varieties of teas for sale to take home. Supporting local artists is a passion of the Dobra Tea team, and much of the pottery for sale is created by artists such as Akira Satake and Covington Pottery. Dobra Tea also offers classes for the general public about tea preparation and history. The next class—Discover Green Teas from China, Korea and Japan—will be held Jan. 6 at Dobra Tea in Downtown Asheville from 9 to 11 a.m.
Andrew says his goal is to continue to educate and turn people into regular tea drinkers. They are selling more than just tea; they are selling an experience. Everything from the presentation to the perfect temperature of the tea allows for an almost magical gathering place for people of all cultures and backgrounds to come together and share a wonderful experience.
In their 15-year anniversary catalog, there is a beautiful quote that seems to capture the essence of what Dobra Tea brings to Asheville: “It is important to remind ourselves…that many kindred levels meet in the tea room. It is important to remember that there is a confluence of quite diverse influences, be they creative, cultural, social, religious or other. The teacup reflects traces of cultural traditions of the Chinese, Japanese or sub-continental India nations. The tea’s surface mirrors the richly colored carpet of customs from the Arabian world, old Europe and young America. Those who know how to listen can distinguish the song of the Indian gurus mixed with the sound of a Shakuhachi Japanese flute or the throat singing of the Tibetan lamas in the gurgling water. This intersection occurs in the tea room!”