In Dobra vs. Dobra, we all Win

For a tea drinker, Prague is a veritable heaven. It was most likely due to the Russian influence (Russians love tea) during the communist years that got the Czech Republic at large started on tea. Of course what they had then were probably “brands” like “Victory Black” or “Benign Autocracy Breakfast Tea” which were most likely the same damned thing and not so amazing.
Apparently a group started to meet in secret and worked to smuggle tea in to the Czech Republic where they would then drink it in secret, stealthy groups. This was daunting and exciting for these folks and after The Wall fell, things opened up a great deal. Suddenly, importing any myriad of teas was a much easier order to carry out and people started to truly enjoy tea as opposed to it just being something to have because there was no choice in breakfast beverages.
Out of all of this sprang, Dobrá Čajovna, which is a tea house that has grown to be a chain across the Czech Republic as well as other countries including the US. This was the original tea house in Prague from which all others copied the model of having a relaxed, “salon” setting in which is enjoy a massive selection of teas from all over the world. Several locations of theirs started up in Prague, but ultimately it’s the one at Václavské Náměstí 14 that has hung on to be their main and only location.
Another tea house started up as well in the same model as Dobrá Čajovna, but with a bit of a twist. They’re called Dobrá Trafika and they have two locations in Prague. The main thing that’s very cool about them is that they’ve chosen this speakeasy format for their cafes. A ‘trafika’ is a place where you buy tobacco, newspapers, metro passes, and the like. Thusly, the front of their establishments look just like a typical, slightly rundown trafika. But, when you make a turn past the counter and down a rather non-obvious hall, you come to the actual cafe in the back. If I hadn’t know that there was a cafe in the back of the first one of these I went to, I probably would have just left, which is great, because I’m sure a very many, non-curious tourists do this.
So, as to which one might be the better one? Really, they’re both great. The advantage of Dobrá Čajovna is that the tea selection is ungodly huge and detailed. You can order just about anything at their place. They have outdoor seating, but as we found out, they are often burning incense out there to cover up the pot fumes the staff are creating in the passageway to the place. The other downside is that it’s rather expensive at 3€ a pot or so.
Dobrá Trafika on the other hand is a bit cheaper, but has a much smaller selection. I think I might prefer their outdoor seating a tad more as it’s usually a bit more quiet and the speakeasy, in-the-know quality to the place is quite appealing. That and while you will get expats there, you’ll get virtually no tourists.
But, these aren’t the only two places in Prague for tea. There are countless more that have copied this tea house model and have a good selection. Some have got more grungy hippie funk than others and some are more trendy than others, but they’re all cool in some way. There are no uppity joints like Samovar in San Francisco, which is a welcome change.
In Dobra vs. Dobra, we all Win

One Reply to “In Dobra vs. Dobra, we all Win”

  1. Hi, actually

    “High tea culture” rise in is certainly not due to Russian influence. There was fascination with everything “oriental” for a few centuries – first tearoom, inspired by Japan, was open/exhibited at Prague well before communism.

    Tea drinking in general may have spread partially from Russia, but again, well before communism. More likely come from western direction (British/Dutch/German/Austrian) .

    Dobrá Čajovna was not an absolutely first tearoom after revolution, but can be credited with developing very successful style. But it can’t be said all others just copied. Various Czech tearooms (including Dobra cajovna) draw inspiration from sources as diverse as ancient Chinese tearooms, Japan Tea ceremony, tearooms of Turkey and Morocco, English teahouses, Czech cafés, Czech pubs, Buddhist temples… it’s diverse :-)

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