Kombucha slider: 4 small glasses of 4 different Kombucha flavors on tap.
I wrote this story because I find Libby and her story to be inspiring to what we can achieve if we follow out passion. I enjoy tea immensely and really enjoy meeting new people. I met Libby Spehar and her coworkers at The Snooty Fox, which Libby owns. Libby’s journey is really unique so far. So here we are!
This is the story of Libby Spehar and the Snooty Fox:
Libby Spehar’s passion for tea, teaching, and her community lead her to open a tea shop of her own. In October of 2015, Libby opened The Snooty Fox Tea Shop. Soon after making the decision to pursue her dream, Libby learned of a place being built in Chester Park on East 8th Street.
“The idea came and then the location presented itself within a couple days,’ said Libby.
The building is a multipurpose unit containing both businesses and apartments. The ecofriendly space, upcoming availability, and location in Chester Park were what she was looking for. Soon after, Libby worked with an architect to design the layout.
“The location was a selling point,” she added. “The opportunity to create something from scratch was really exciting.”
Libby really took time to explore her interests to find a unique shop name. Libby studied in London and was intrigued by the pub names. She researched pub names there to “get her creative juices flowing”.
“I was looking for inspiration. I wanted something fun and whimsical. Memorable and maybe unusual,” she said of her research.
Libby also spent time volunteering. During this time, Libby helped to rehabilitate orphaned and injured animals. Foxes were a favorite of hers to look after. There was one fox who refused to eat. This left an impression on Libby; it was an experience she will never forget. With her love of the interesting pub names and nature, The Snooty Fox Tea Shop was born.
“Tea, originally, was regarded as a medicine. There is a lot to learn about tea. It’s all connected. It’s a healing thing,” said Libby. “Sharing tea or making someone tea or having someone else make you tea – it’s all very comforting. It’s like an act of kindness.”
She enjoys bringing knowledge of her customers to help them find a flavor they will adore. Libby’s love of sharing information inspires even young people. She has had children create art for her in the form of pictures and clay sculptures of foxes.
“The simplest way to put it is just these are things that I love and I want to share with people,” Libby said of her passions. “I like sharing cool stuff. That’s my nature. I get really excited about stuff and I need to tell people. I kind of have a teaching bug in me. I come from a long line of teachers. I like sharing information. It’s something I’m really passionate about, too.”
There are three styles of tea to drink while enjoying the atmosphere of the shop – loose leaf, bubble and kombucha.
Loose leaf is the most commonly known variety of tea. It is offered both brewed in the shop and in bulk for brewing at one’s leisure. The loose-leaf tea offers different blends to try. There are 120 flavors of bulk tea alone that customers can try. Libby picked each tea and has drank each one.
Bubble tea is served chilled – a hit in the summer. There are both seasonal and year-round flavors. Bobas are what give bubble tea its name.
The kombucha tea is s fermented tea that contains probiotics. Their kombucha is brewed within house by two brewers – Libby’s brother and sister-in-law. They use a seven tea blend and filter the water.
They use repurposed oak barrels. One is a 30-gallon barrel that was used to make rye whiskey and bourbon. Their primary barrel is a 60-gallon barrel that held French chardonnay. Libby and her team are brainstorming options for expanding the kombucha selection.
“We’re the first place in town to have it on tap like we do and we’re kind of cutting edge,” Libby said of their kombucha, “We’re adopting stuff that so far only the coasts and bigger cities have.”
At Libby’s shop there are many teas to taste. Libby and her staff love to help customers find something delightful. In helping their customers, the staff of The Snooty Fox build relationships with the people in the community – from two-year olds who adore kombucha to first time tea drinkers.
“We can get non-tea drinkers something they’ll like. There is something for everybody. (There is a type of tea for) every time of day, every mood, every feeling. I could pick out your favorite tea for a certain kind of music you want to listen to,” says Libby of hesitancy to trying tea. “We’re going to find something really good for you, to make you smile.”
The customers of The Snooty Fox form a diverse crowd of people from the community. There are both social justice and kombucha groups. Many professors stop in. Students writing their thesis papers are also among those who stop by.
“We try to foster really solid relationships of every kind,” she said. “College kids, graduate students, families, neighbors who walk here. I feel like we have been embraced by the locals and the college kids and I am proud of that.”
Challenges happen for every business. Having the support of customers and the community can make or break the future of the business. It is because of this support that The Snooty Fox has been and will continue to be a success.
“Our relationships have sustained us in the hard times. If we didn’t have such a connection with our customers, I think it would be a lot harder to keep going when it is tough,” Libby said of their customers. She added, “I feel super supported by our community of customers and enthusiasts.”
In the future, Libby and her crew are looking to try new things and share it with their fans and newcomers alike. In fact, Snooty Fox kombucha tea will be served at some of your favorite local shops.
“We just try to be respectful and kind to everybody,” Libby said. “All are welcome here.”