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Teaching Tea


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Photo by Jennifer Sauer

If your idea of brewing tea involves a tea bag and a microwave, you’re a good candidate for enlightenment at the Friday night classes at Teance, a shop on Berkeley’s Fourth Street that imports premium teas from Asia.

The classes, which take place at Teance’s circular stone bar, quickly dispense with any commonly held but erroneous notions you might have about tea, such as the idea that there is nothing wrong with tea bags. Each class focuses on one major variety of tea—white, green, oolong, red, or black—and how to brew it.

At a recent class on oolong teas, students used tiny handcrafted clay pots called Yixing (pronounced YEE-shing). The baby pots sit atop “tea boats,” which collect water used in the brewing process. The students learned how to douse the outside of the pots with hot water and wait, meditatively, until the water evaporated from the pot’s surface before dousing again. The brewing time was measured in dousings.

“There’s really something wonderful about tea in our high-speed world,” says teacher Darius Moghaddam. “People say it takes a lot of time, but tea is that two minutes a day you spend appreciating the moment.”

Classes cost $12. Teance, 1780 Fourth St., Berkeley, (510) 524-2832, www.teance.com

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