Thursday, February 3, 2011


Last week, Melia and I headed to Teance in Berkeley, in the busy Fourth Street shopping district, for a "formal" tea tasting.

Teance's business is primarily a wholesale and online tea and tea accessory business, based in Emeryville, California.

This Fourth Street location is its only retail outlet.

In addition to its lovely store, with tea pots and other accessories attractively displayed and a central water "shower" garden in the center, Teance has a tea bar at the back of the shop. The circular tea bar is a work of art in and of itself; it is 10 feet of circular concrete, cast in a single pour and embedded with semi-precious gemstones and fossils.

It is at the bar where we did our tasting. This formal tasting, priced at $18 per person, consists of tasting three teas of your selection from a large tea menu. (there is an added cost to taste some special rare teas, but most of the tea menu selection is not the rare tea).

Before and while tasting, our server guided us through our selections and talked with us about the teas that we sipped. We evaluated the taste, observed the color of the brewed tea, and generally immersed ourselves in the tea experience. Each tea was resteeped several times. It was a delightful way for Melia and me to visit.

On weekends, Teance offers some tea snacks on its menu. But, during the week, it is just tea. Wanting that little something to eat with our tea, I dashed next door to the Pasta Shop Markethall to buy several fancy chocolate bars, some of which were infused with tea, just to keep in theme.

While Teance was not overly busy during the more than two hours that we spent there, there was a steady stream of customers. Some come in just to buy loose tea or a tea accessory. Others joined us at the bar to enjoy a pot of tea. A single tea tasting costs $7 (rare tea tasting is $15 per tea). We were the only ones doing the tasting of three teas.

My favorite tea was the Lichee Red Premium which I had to purchase to take home to continue enjoying. That's what I'm sipping as I write this blog post.

Teance is a beautiful and calming place to enjoy tea, conversation, and an escape from this bustling shopping district.

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