UC Berkeley students are lucky to have Asha Tea House in their backyard. When I attended Vanderbilt University, there was no such place in Nashville, not even close. Asha owners David and Diana Lau, engineers and tea lovers, debuted their caffeinated outpost in July 2012 featuring whole-leaf tea and Intelligentsia Coffee. Asha means “someone that enjoys life” in Taiwanese, and I can see how the company’s contributing to that feeling.
On Asha’s website, the Laus express how they were inspired for different reasons by companies like Starbucks, Blue Bottle Coffee and Intelligentsia Coffee. Their Berkeley flagship may have drawn from those popular companies, but Asha has a fairly distinct aesthetic. The space features high concrete ceilings with long, cylindrical paper lanterns, wood tables, metal tea urns on shelves, and blackboard menus by the entrance.
Asha features a sizable tea selection that’s organized by Black, Green, White, Pu’er and Oolong (light and dark). You’ll also find fresh fruit teas, milk teas and matcha, all available with bouncy boba (tapioca balls) on ice. Asha’s Matcha Latte ($4.50) features stratified layers of black boba, white whole milk and bright green matcha. The green tea powder is stone-ground, high in antioxidants, and strong on caffeine. At the highest levels, matcha involves ceremony, but for college students, grab-and-go boba drinks with matcha more than suffice.