Hidden in Downtown Berkeley, Asha Tea House is one of this city’s greatest little gems. Its second location was opened a few months ago in San Francisco. In Taiwanese, “Asha” means “someone that enjoys life,” and one of Asha’s biggest hopes is that drinking its tea will remind of you of all that you enjoy about life.
The drinks are a little pricier than those of competitors, but what you pay for is quality. Asha believes in serving only the finest teas made from the finest ingredients. The fruit tea menu changes by season because it uses the freshest produce in making its fruit purees.
Get here close to opening if you want a table with a power outlet. They’re usually gone pretty quickly (as in within 5-10 minutes of opening). Also, sign up for the mobile stamp card program. Ten purchases will get you a free reward. In addition to selling pre-made drinks, you can purchase loose leaf tea, matcha powder, ceramics, glassware, teaware and reusable containers. You can also adjust the sweetness level in any sweetened drink, change milk types, ask for no or less ice and even make your drink extra hot. Adding boba or grass jelly to your drink costs $0.50, almond milk costs $0.50 and soy milk costs $0.25.
Here at Eating Berkeley, we love Asha. It’s one of our all-time favorite study spots and tea bars. We love the drinks, the tea cookies and financiers, the music playlist, the ambiance and even the way the menu is written simply yet beautifully on the hanging chalkboards. We decided to share a few of our favorites drinks and treats with our readers.
This is one of their most popular drinks. The matcha is hand-whisked. Substitute the whole milk with soy, almond or nonfat milk for an additional cost. We’ve tried it both cold and hot, and you definitely can’t go wrong with either choice. We like ordering it unsweetened, as it accentuates the taste of the matcha.
This is a hand-whisked shot of pure matcha. For an additional $0.50, you can get an extra teaspoon of matcha. If you’re trying to stay away from coffee, this is a good substitute, as it’ll give you the extra boost of energy you need without the jitters.
Black milk tea
A classic favorite everywhere — you definitely can’t go wrong. Substitute in your favorite kind of milk, change the sweetness level, add boba or grass jelly. Any combination is sure to be enjoyable.
Jasmine milk tea
Asha uses a floral and robust mix of jasmine green tea to create rich flavors that taste like springtime in a cup. We decided to try it with almond milk (they use Califia Farms brand), which paired very nicely with the tea. It’s sure to leave you feeling calm and refreshed.
Blood orange oolong tea
This is another one of Asha’s most popular drinks. It’s only available as long as the California Moro blood orange season lasts. This drink is a blend of oolong tea with house-made blood orange puree, and it is absolutely delicious–it tastes just like summer. We rushed over as soon as we found out it was back in season. We tried it unsweetened and added grass jelly, and it was absolutely delicious. It definitely lived up to the hype.
Strawberry black tea
This drink currently isn’t in season, but when it is, be sure to try it. Strawberry puree is paired with black tea to create a drink that’s oh-so-tasty and sure to make you feel as if you’re frolicking about a strawberry field on warm summer day.
Fuji apple black tea
This tea is back in season. For a lighter tea taste, Asha recommends pairing this with house blend bancha green tea. Imagine this: you’re at an apple orchard, basket in hand, picking the juiciest, shiniest apples off the trees. You bite into one and instantly taste heaven. Well, you don’t have to imagine because you can stop by Asha and order this drink, and it’ll leave you feeling the same way.
Jasmine iced tea
This tea is Asha’s blend of floral and robust jasmine tea — nothing more, nothing less. It’s so good that you won’t need anything more. We loved it so much that we bought a bag of it loose leaf to take home with us.
Asha sells jasmine and matcha financiers, which are tea cakes made using almond flour, all-purpose flour, egg whites, brown butter, and tea right from Asha. They are handmade in Oakland by Marykate McGoldrick. Grab one to nibble on while sipping your tea. We’ve tried both the jasmine and the matcha and can say that these chewy little cakes are capable of bringing a tremendous amount of joy to your mouth in just one bite.
If you’re ever looking for a way to quench your thirst or need a quiet place to study, head to Asha. It’s sure to be everything you’re looking for and more.
Contact Kithumini Jayasiri at [email protected].