Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Tea Tasting and More on Fourth Street Berkeley

Virginia came to visit for a week in April.

 On her first full day here, we headed to the Fourth Street shopping/restaurant district in Berkeley for a tea tasting at Téance and some wandering around. Harriet came in from San Francisco to join us in our explorations.

 For lunch, we debated between Zut!, Café Rouge, and Bette's Oceanview Diner...all good options. Bette's won!

Harriet had the French Toast with Yogurt and French Fruit.

Virginia and I had Tuna Melts.

...a tasty lunch in a vintage diner setting. 

 Bette's was one of the first restaurants in the neighborhood when it began to be gentrified several decades ago.  It still is very very popular. They serve breakfast and lunch daily. We put our name on a waiting list about an hour before we planned to have lunch. When we arrived at noon, we are seated almost immediately, rather than having to wait. 

 Tea tasting at Téance is always an interesting experience.

It's a shop that sells many varieties of tea, tea accessories, and books about tea. At the tea bar, people come an go, stopping in for simply a pot of tea and some conversation or to do a more formal tea tasting as we did. We each got to choose two different teas from their extensive list. Virginia had never tasted Matcha and chose that for her first taste. Matcha is a powdered Japanese tea which is first whisked with a small amount of hot water with a bamboo whisk in a small bowl.

Our server explained that you have to whisk the powder with a small amount of hot water until it does not stick to the sides of the bowl. Then he added more water and Virginia got to taste.

 Her second choice was a Pu-Erh, a black tea which is the only kind of tea that is fermented. It actually gets better with age, just like many wines. Her particular Pu-Erh was one that had been fermented for at least 5 years.

As for me, I started with a green Lu Shan Clouds and Mist and then went on to Yunnan Gold, a red tea.

With each brewed tea, our server did two infusions of the same leaves.

It is possible to resteep the leaves up to five times, but twice was sufficient for us to experience the taste changes with successive infusions.

 Some other people were sipping cups of tea while we were tasting.

When they ordered the fresh Mochi for a little something sweet to accompany their tea , we decided to follow suit.

Mochi is a Japanese sweet made with a glutonous rice outer shell and filled with a bean paste and nut filling. It can also be filled with ice cream (that version available at Trader Joe's).

We then found out that one of the people who had ordered the Mochi is the chef who makes them fresh for Téance and who had just delivered them before stopping for her cup of tea.  Her bean paste version is truly special.  If you go to Téance, be sure to ask if they have Mochi to go with your tea.

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