A newly opened tea shop in Greenville offers an alternative to coffee with a range of diverse teas that each have their own history.
The first Dobrá Tea was opened in Prague in the Czech Republic to spread knowledge about tea in different cultures. During the final years of communism in Czechoslovakia, a group of tea lovers began meeting to sample smuggled rare tea from India, China and Japan that otherwise would have only been available to Party, State and Military elite. After the fall of Communism, the group found the original shop in 1993 in Prague, Czech Republic, as a shelter where individuals could enjoy and appreciate tea in an open fashion. The name Dobrá Tea is Croatian for “good tea” and is reflective of its motives to serve the public with “good tea.”
The Greenville Dobrá Tea franchise opened in the winter of 2019 but had to close due to COVID-19 restrictions. The shop reopened recently and can once again share their love of tea with Greenville.
Joe Passalaqua, owner of Dobrá Tea, said he encourages BJU students to visit the Dobrá Tea shop because it offers a warm atmosphere for studying. Passalaqua recalled living in Nashville, Tennessee, and visiting the Dobrá Tea shop there. “I used to go there for every purpose possible,” said Passalaqua. “I went to work, met with friends and sometimes went on dates.”
Located at 1278 Pendleton St., Dobrá Tea presents a warm setting for a quick meal or a place to study after a long day at school. Decorated to fit the aesthetic of the original shop in Prague, the tea shop has a Bohemian look that includes pillows on the floor to sit on to match Asian tradition and various intricate dishes.
Upon arrival, the waitress hands you a large menu book filled with various teas to choose from. Each one depicted in the book comes with a brief history that explains the origin of the tea. Most of the teas are from China, Taiwan, Japan, India and Sri Lanka.
The shop offers a tasting option for $10 for those who do not know much about tea or who are indecisive about what to order. Other prices of tea vary between $5 and $10. With over 100 various options from green to black tea, each tea is completely different in its own way. The tea is served in a traditional Chinese setup that includes a kettle, leaves and a teacup in the effort to educating customers about Chinese Tea Culture.
The tea shop encourages patrons to pour and make the tea themselves. Passalaqua said, “We try to strive to be as authentic as possible to give the patron the authentic experience of how it is to drink tea.”
The menu consists of various soups, pastries and desserts catered towards vegetarians and vegans. Each meal is prepared with fresh produce as the shop strives for healthier options. Pastries and desserts range from $5 to $8 and soups range from $8 to $12.
One of the cultural aspects of the shop is the various seating arrangements to choose from. There is a choice of sitting in a booth or a regular table and, sticking to tradition, customers can also choose to take off their shoes and sit on a pillow on the floor to enjoy their tea. Everything has a story to it at Dobrá Tea, including the furnishings, which were all built by carpenters from the Czech Republic.
With another Dobrá Tea located in Asheville and owned by his business partner, Passalaqua hopes to open several more in Greenville. The shop is open Wednesday to Sunday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. An online selection of various teas is also available for purchase. For more information on Dobrá Tea, visit www.dobrateasc.com.