Beer scene inspires Asheville Tea Company, leads to latest tea-infused beer

We all know that beer has been Asheville's hot commodity in recent years, but an entrepreneur thinks local farms are an untapped resource for something that's been hot for thousands of years.

Is it Asheville Tea Company's time?

Recently, News 13 caught up with Tim Weber of Twin Leaf Brewery as he prepared his latest brew.

"I have a really fun job!" Weber said.

Maybe his physical labor of love is why he has no beer gut.

"I thought it would be cooler and more romantic to stir it like the old-time brewers did," Weber said.

Jessie Dean of Asheville Tea Company says Twin Leaf reflects the community.

"This is an area that really supports a craft beverage industry," she explained.

That vibe inspired her to tap into the market.

"Out at the farm, looking out at the farmland, it's kind of a perfect setting," she said, looking out the window at Pick and Preserve Food Hub in Barnardsville.

That's where Jessie's in pursuit of the perfect brew.

"The whole kitchen smells amazing," Dean told News 13. "So fresh and so delicious."

But instead of barley, her brand's packed with things that don't scream beer.

From North Carolina-grown lemongrass leaf to lemon balm.

"This one is form Pangea farms in Lake Lure," she explained.

She also has Yaupon grown in Savannah.

"The only North American caffeinated plant," she said. "I'm trying to take an approach where it's a really bold flavor."

Jessie thinks her vision to percolate interest in Beer City makes perfect sense.

"Tea time!" she declared, pouring a cup for Pick and Preserve Food Hub owner Andrew Kromis.

"Especially in the UK, which is one of my inspirations for starting this company," Jessie said. "People have tea all the time. Tea for breakfast, tea in the afternoon, tea when visitors come, tea to celebrate."

It's not the craft beverage the area's known for, but Kromis said the market's perfect for businesses like Asheville Tea.

"The desire for local businesses to stay local," Kromis pointed out. "They're not really looking to distribute to large grocery stores."

Jessie's content to sell her tea at tailgate markets and local shops. It's available at places like The Rhu on S. Lexington and Ivory Road Cafe in Arden. She labels every tin herself.

"You know, it is exciting to slap a label on this," she said while labeling a batch, "because then you have a finished product."

That finished product led to lightbulb moment that makes perfect sense in Asheville.

"I do find a lot of inspiration from our community," Jessie said.

Which brings us back to Twin Leaf Brewery, where head brewer and owner Tim's turned to Jessie's local tea.

"It's kind of an English bitter style beer," Tim said of his latest concoction. "We're making it very biscuity, and we're adding Asheville Tea Company's Earl Grey Blend into it."

Eventually, he'll mix in lemon zest to go with the tea's floral notes.

"I've been so excited about this beer with tea," Jessie said. "I feel like it's the coolest synergy between two different craft beverages in the Asheville food and drink scene."

"The beer's name is gonna be called Elevenses," Weber said. "So, the idea is a morning snack that includes tea and biscuits."

It's the latest example of mountain businesses finding inspiration in each other, and that's the kind of entrepreneurial spirit that's been steeping for years.

"So, it's taking that classic British tea and putting in an Asheville twist," Dean said.