**Guest blog post by the tea experts at Asha Tea House
Joining the ranks of specialty coffee and tea establishments in Union Square like Mazarine Coffee and Nespresso, East Bay favorite Asha Tea House quietly opened its doors in Union Square earlier this month.
The first and only one of if its kind in the San Francisco Bay Area, Asha Tea House offers a modern take on traditional tea service—a tasteful blend of old and new that is reflected in both its globally-inspired drink menu and its beautifully-designed tea houses. Customers can choose from a carefully curated collection of directly-sourced whole leaf teas, served in either traditional tea ware or locally-made ceramic cups, or from made-to-order, hand-crafted tea beverages inspired by tea favorites from around the world, such as the Hong Kong Milk Tea and Matcha Latte. Asha also sells its whole leaf teas in bulk and carries a selection of glass, ceramic and stone tea ware so that one can brew our darn good tea for any occasion.
Asha Tea House’s famous Hong Kong Milk Tea (featured on the cover of the East Bay Express in October 2012) and hand-whisked Matcha Latte.
Just around the corner from some of fashion’s most famous design brands—Christian Louboutin and Tory Burch, to name a few—Asha occupies a modest space at the busy intersection of Kearny and Geary. Asha’s unassuming warm grey exterior is broadcast only by a minimalist wooden blade sign—but those passing by can’t help but be drawn in by the cozy interior.
At the front of the tea house, beautiful white oak trim, Heath tiles and clean stainless steel surfaces frame the open kitchen, where all ingredients are made in-house and all drinks made to order. The back wall, however, is clearly the center of focus. White oak slats with nestled boxes housing exquisite tea ware surround a wall of gleaming stainless steel tea tins, each hosting a unique artisan tea that is directly-sourced from small family farms that practice organic and sustainable growing techniques. Colorful monikers like Red Jade, Dragonwell, and Oriental Beauty hint at each tea’s own story, and Asha’s staff is always more than happy to elaborate about the origins of their whole leaf teas. The photobooks documenting their overseas sourcing trips are also a must-see—both visually stunning and intellectually inviting, they provide a glimpse into the tea world that are a mystery to many in this coffee-driven society.
Asha’s focus on honesty and quality has attracted individuals from all walks of life to its Berkeley location since 2012, and although still in its soft opening phase, Asha has already shown itself to be a welcome addition to Union Square. So when you find yourself needing a break from the hustle and bustle of the dining and shopping scene, or from work, stop by Asha Tea House for a darn good cup of tea. Sit back, relax, and enjoy as the aroma of freshly-brewed tea (or house-made chai or condensed milk, if you’re lucky) wafts through the air.