According to research, Berkeley ranks among the top 10 cities for tea lovers in the US. The study indicates that Berkeley ranks 4th in the U.S. for the number of tea spots per square mile and 14th for average tea place review ratings, suggesting a high concentration of quality tea places.
In this article, we will explore the top 6 tea spots in the city. We’re not limiting ourselves to traditional tea houses; we’ll also highlight cafes where you can savor an exceptional cup of tea.
Far Leaves Tea is an oasis of tea culture and tradition. Established in 1998, it emphasizes the enriching human experience of brewing and savoring tea. Beyond just serving a cup, the tea house believes in fostering connections as patrons patiently wait for their brews and enjoy the gentle art of conversation.
This sanctuary offers an extensive collection of single estate, hand-processed teas spanning greens, oolongs, blacks, and rare aged puers. The owner, Donna Lo, frequently visits Asia to handpick the finest teas, ensuring that Far Leaves Tea presents the very essence of regions like China, Taiwan, Japan, and India. Alongside the teas, the establishment offers a selection of handmade tea accessories that aid in the Pacific Rim style of tea preparation inspired by the Chinese Gongfu method. This approach is harmoniously blended with influences from Japanese, Russian, American, and other tea traditions.
Inside, the cafe embodies tranquility, presenting a fusion of East Asian aesthetics. From the standard seating to the more traditional tatami mat area, patrons can find a comfortable spot to relax. The venue also complements its tea offerings with a line of tea cookies, providing a rounded tea experience for those who visit.
- Extensive tea selection catering to various palates.
- Ambient and serene atmosphere reminiscent of East Asian tea houses.
- Varied seating options, including a tatami mat area.
- Reasonable prices for the tea experience offered.
- Knowledgeable, passionate, and friendly staff.
- Offers a space suitable for studying, working, catching up with friends, or solo relaxation.
- Provides Wi-Fi and ample seating.
- Customers can experience high-end teas without purchasing in bulk.
- Sells tea and tea-related accessories.
- Offers quality teas, including both traditional and unique blends.
- Provides an electric kettle for continuous hot tea.
- High quality of loose-leaf tea.
- The exterior appearance is rundown and may be off-putting to some visitors at first glance.
Location: 2626 San Pablo Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94702
Nestled in Northwest Berkeley, Blue Willow Tea is an emblem of tea appreciation, offering patrons a chance to experience a vast array of global teas. Established in 2016, this tea spot emphasizes a direct relationship with tea farmers, prioritizing sustainably sourced teas. Their curated selection extends from the fields of distant regions to the handcrafted blends developed in-house.
The ambiance of Blue Willow is both calming and educational, making it an apt location for those seeking solitude or deep conversations. Guests can navigate a tea menu encompassing various types – black, white, green, and red. Special mention must be made of their innovative tea flights, like the ‘Pour some sugar on me’ flight, which offers a trio of teas: Jasmine Pearls, Wuliang Beauty, and Black Rose.
For those who prefer to enhance their tea-drinking experience, Blue Willow serves pastries sourced from local bakeries, such as the remarkable okonomiyaki danish from Bake Sum. The teahouse’s design incorporates both traditional and contemporary elements, featuring everything from a ceremonial tea setup to private seating areas. Whether you’re an aficionado or a newcomer to the world of teas, Blue Willow Tea promises a tranquil, enriching experience, underscored by its commitment to quality and sustainability.
- Perfect atmosphere and vibe for studying and relaxing.
- Variety of seating options available.
- Offers a unique tea flight experience that allows tasting multiple teas.
- Extensive variety of teas.
- Tea refill stations provided.
- Clean bathrooms.
- Free filtered water with self-serve cups.
- Great places to work or hang out.
- The ambiance is zen-like, charming, and relaxing.
- High-quality teas with unique and flavorful options.
- Has associated pastries from local bakeries.
- Tea served hot, maintaining temperature well.
- Attractive decorations and interior setup, including a traditional tea room.
- Located in a convenient area, near other popular spots.
- Service/wait times can be long and inconsistent.
- Parking is limited.
Location: 1200 Tenth St, Berkeley, CA 94710
Teance Fine Teas, established in 2002 by a group of tea enthusiasts, is a sanctuary for authentic, farm-direct, whole-leaf teas sourced from high elevations in mountains of origin. Located in a tranquil enclave, Teance offers an immersive tea experience that emphasizes quality and tradition. The cafe is renowned for its selection of seasonal, single-garden teas that range from vibrant greens to rich oolongs, and from the delightful red lichee to aged pu-erh.
Upon entering, visitors are often captivated by the unique design that harmoniously combines concrete, bamboo, and Japanese plaster elements. A striking, curved tea bar sits at the center, where tea masters provide insights into each brew’s rich histories, origins, and flavor profiles. Guests can savor tea in tasting flights, allowing them to journey through different tea varieties.
In addition to the regular offerings, Teance conducts regular group tea-tasting events, providing a communal space for both novices and aficionados to deepen their appreciation for the ancient art of tea brewing. While primarily focused on the tea experience, Teance also offers a selection of treats, like the Orange Sugar Cake, that pair delightfully with their teas. A visit here is not just about tasting tea, but understanding its rich tapestry of history, culture, and flavor.
- Wide variety of teas, including rare and unique ones.
- Knowledgeable, friendly, and enthusiastic staff.
- Offers a variety of events and tastings.
- Personalized and immersive tea experience.
- Clean and aesthetically pleasing environment.
- Traditional and authentic tea service.
- Many customers recommend specific teas.
- Indoor and outdoor seating available.
- Provides information and classes about tea.
- Unique interior design and ambiance.
- Some tea lovers may find the tea overpriced.
- Limited parking space.
- Seating can be limited during events.
- Lack of visible pricing on some products.
- Some customers may want more options for sweeteners and cream.
Location: 1036 Grayson Street, Berkeley, CA 94710
Asha Tea House, established in 2012, offers a curated experience for tea aficionados. The ethos of Asha lies in its dedication to high-quality, whole-leaf teas and its hand-crafted beverages made from pure, fresh ingredients. The establishment has taken meticulous steps to source teas directly from growers, ensuring authenticity in every cup. While they have a focused selection of teas and beverages, it’s wide-ranging enough to represent a comprehensive taste of the tea world.
Beyond the beverages, Asha prides itself on its ambiance. The tea house’s design emphasizes comfort and aesthetics, allowing customers to fully savor their tea experience. It’s not just a place to drink tea but an environment created to enhance the ritual of tea drinking.
Their menu is diverse, catering to both traditional tea enthusiasts and those seeking inventive flavors. From classic milk teas to fruit-infused varieties, each drink promises a distinctive taste profile. Boba lovers, in particular, will appreciate the freshness and impeccable chewiness of Asha’s tapioca pearls. For those seeking a serene space to enjoy a cup of tea, Asha Tea House in Berkeley strikes a harmonious balance between modernity and tradition.
- Exceptional boba drinks and high-quality ingredients.
- Freshness and impeccable balance in tapioca pearl chewiness.
- Extensive and inventive range of boba drink options.
- Commitment to using premium and organic teas and ingredients.
- Friendly and efficient service.
- Clean, inviting, and aesthetically pleasing ambiance.
- Knowledgeable staff who can provide drink recommendations.
- Variety of matcha drink options that appeal to matcha enthusiasts.
- Use of biodegradable straws and environmentally friendly practices.
- Offers complimentary tea beverages with certain purchases.
- Some may feel that certain drinks lacked flavor or were too lightly sweetened.
- No free Wi-Fi available for customers.
- Limited seating and can be crowded.
- Challenging street parking.
Location: 2086 University Ave, Berkeley, CA 94704
5. One Plus
One Plus is a café with a dedication to quality, nestled in downtown Berkeley. Steeped in tea culture, it offers an impressive selection of high-end teas, focusing on authentic Asian tea experiences. Knowledgeable tea-tenders at One Plus understand the intricacies of brewing, ensuring each variety of tea is made at the right temperature and steeped for the perfect duration. Freshness is paramount here: the café stands out by freshly brewing its teas daily using loose leaves. Moreover, they take pride in creating organic fruit purees in-house.
While milk and fruit teas have gained immense popularity worldwide, One Plus ensures that theirs stand apart. They have consciously moved away from using artificial powders or flavor enhancers. The café’s modern and sleek ambiance provides a cozy setting that invites visitors to linger, savoring their beverages. Besides teas, One Plus also offers a selection of coffees and crepes, further enhancing its diverse menu. Situated conveniently near UC Berkeley, it’s an ideal spot for tea connoisseurs and those seeking a serene space in the city’s heart.
- Offers a variety of sweetening options, accommodating health preferences.
- High-quality teas.
- Environmentally friendly/compostable materials used.
- Quiet and modern ambiance, conducive for studying.
- Offers Wi-Fi for customers.
- Has authentic Chinese food options, like Jian Bing.
- Friendly staff and service.
- Clean, aesthetic, and well-decorated interior.
- Unique tea-making processes, like hand-shaking tea in a cocktail shaker.
- Some teas have real fruit bits, making them fresher.
- Offers alternatives like oat milk.
- Emphasizes high-quality ingredients and tea.
- Lacking of charging outlets, causing inconvenience for those studying.
- Music can sometimes be loud, disturbing those who come to study.
Location: 2161 Allston Way, Ste C, Berkeley, CA 94704
The Hidden Cafe in West Berkeley is a quiet retreat for those who appreciate the subtleties of tea. Located behind a brick building on a side street, it stands adjacent to Strawberry Creek Park, offering a natural backdrop for visitors.
Tea enthusiasts will find a range of choices here. The menu includes several types of chai, like spicy, chocolate, and house blends. For those looking for something a bit different, there’s the hojicha, kokuto latte, and grape sencha. The cafe also prepares refreshing tea sparklers for warmer days. The quality of their home-brewed chai has drawn some comparisons to other notable chai outlets in the area.
Apart from teas, The Hidden Cafe provides a selection of food items, including a sausage egg mich-sandwich made with chorizo, egg, cheese, and a distinctive sauce. A variety of pastries, including vegan options, complements the drink offerings.
While the cafe’s interior is modestly decorated with dried flowers and simple lighting, many find the outdoor setting appealing. The park view, coupled with bistro tables and a communal vibe, gives the place a relaxed feel. Whether you’re dropping by for a tea break, looking for a tranquil workspace, or just seeking a peaceful spot in the city, The Hidden Cafe is a place worth discovering.
- Variety of chai tea options.
- Unique location: hidden behind a brick building with a large park area.
- Offers both tea and coffee options.
- Cozy interior and friendly staff.
- The outdoor area has a positive ambiance, perfect for picnics and relaxing.
- Variety of baked goods and unique drinks on the menu.
- Vegan pastries available.
- Good spot for both working and leisure.
- Historic and picturesque setting with a community feel.
- Limited indoor seating.
- Parking might be challenging in the area.
Location: 1250 Addison Street, Ste 111, Berkeley, CA 94702