Whenever someone comes up to visit me in Asheville, I take them for tea. When I meet up with local friends, we go and get tea. When I’m alone, cold, and lamenting summer’s death, can you guess what I do? I get tea. As much as I like coffee—no, depend on it for my very survival—there is no question in my mind that I’d rather visit a tearoom than a café.
And why? Well, simply put, it is the more Ashevellian thing to do. There is a delight and a ceremony to it. What follows is a list of the five best places for tea in Asheville, so that you too may savor this staple local experience.
To that point, a tea at The Inn on Biltmore Estate is a most special occasion, the kind of thing you dress up for. With adult reservations priced at fifty dollars per person, I’m sure you can see why. But that hefty price grants access to one of the best-decorated tea rooms in the southeast.
If you should be so fortunate as to be seated near a window, your crumpets and clotted cream will be joined by rolling views of the estate’s grounds, reminding you that you lie in the glory of Appalachia. In short, a Biltmore tea in Asheville is a memory waiting to be made.
My Tea Selection: Ironically, I’m not too choosy with Biltmore’s teas. I do prefer something black and highly concentrated—I always do. I find it pairs well with just about everything, from scones to cucumber sandwiches.
In contrast to Biltmore’s classic Continental approach, High Climate brings you back to the heart of tea, personally sourcing their leaves directly from China. Likewise, the tea here is served in the traditional fashion. Without going into details, I can say this means getting personal with your beverage. In my case it also means hot water everywhere, but so long as you have more coordination than a half-blind panda bear, you’ll have nothing to fear.
Seated on South Lexington Avenue, High Climate puts you close to all manner of downtown attractions, making this spot for tea in Asheville a worthy addition to any visit.
My Tea Selection: I suggest High Climate’s greens. Although I’m not savvy enough to sort out which kind I like in particular, I find their green tea is especially robust and invigorating.
Yes, I spelled their name right. This relative newcomer to the downtown tea scene is part of a chain seldom found on this side of the Pacific, preparing their drinks in the fashion chic in east Asia. This means generous helping of cream, bubbles, sugar, and fruit.
Their menu is expansive and despite the all-encompassing sweetness of each selection, I find that there is a subtle and enticing difference between one drink and the other. Its enough to keep me coming back, for sure.
My Tea Selection: Cheese Earl Grey. Yes, that’s what it called. The “cheese” is cream cheese. As strange as that may sound, I find it accentuates the tea’s creaminess far and beyond what you’ll find in non-cheese-based beverages.
Tucked into a former residence built in the 1930s, Ivory Road—although out of the way—hosts some of the finest ambiance and fare in South Asheville. They offer drive-through coffee, paninis, top-notch donuts, and afternoon teas every Saturday, via reservation.
To quote their menu, you can expect scones, shortbread, seasonal jam, clotted cream, honey butter, finger sandwiches, and finally, petits fors. In essence, its served in the high-tea style you could expect of Biltmore Estate. But at only twenty dollars per person, it is a far homier and more affordable option for tea in Asheville.
My Tea Selection: The Asheville Grey. Not only is it described as “high caffeine,” but my Ashevillian pride demands it.
Longtime followers of this blog will know just what I think of Dobra. For those of you new here, let me refrain: it holds a dear place in my heart. At this very moment, there’s little I’d prefer to finding a low-set table in their veiled back-half, removing my boots, and lounging on the floor, teacup in hand.
With a selection of teas hefty enough to be mistaken for a phonebook and some dynamite desserts, there’s no question in my mind that I’d take any visitor here for tea in Asheville at least once.
And with a twin location in West Asheville, Dobra is twice as easy to work into your vacation.
My Tea Selection: In the cold months, I prefer the Sweet Smell of Jerusalem. Aromatic, dark, warm. When it’s hot, I spring for a staroborshov, with its fruity undertones and foamy head. In either case, I’d be remiss not to pair my drink with some matcha cheesecake, or buttery teacake.
The Inn on the Biltmore Estate
1 Antler Hill Rd, Asheville, NC 28803
High Climate Tea Company
12 S Lexington Ave Suite #1, Asheville, NC 28801
5 Biltmore Ave, Asheville, NC 28801
Ivory Road Café
1854 Brevard Rd, Arden, NC 28704
Dobra Tea (Downtown)
78 N Lexington Ave, Asheville, NC 28801