On the weekends there is handmade mochi available at the tea bar. The walnut bits mixed into the red mochi center were very nice. White mochi enrobed the center and a pretty green leaf made out of matcha decorated the top. These are made for the shop by a lady called Yuri and can be special ordered. Teance will give you her number for anyone interested.
I haven't been to Teance in way over a year. Until Chocoletier Blue moved to 4th St, it wasn't an area I frequented except for rare visits to Betty's, Cafe Rouge's meat counter, or the Pasta Shop.
The tasting bar has changed significantly. The tea is still top-notch and the knowledge and service are exceptional.
However, the prices have sky-rocketed. To taste one tea now costs $7 ... $15 for those marked as special teas. There is a tea flight of three teas available for $15. The fee for tasting is no longer waived if you purchase the tea.
This makes me sad. When the shop was in Albany, the reasonable tasting prices along with the waiver allowed me to gain some in-depth knowledge of fine teas. As a result, I spent a few hundred dollars over that time buying the teas that I liked along with lots of teaware and such.
At $7 - $15 a pop that never would have happened.
It wasn't unusual for me to try all the pu-erhs and select one or two I liked to take home. There are currently six pu-erhs on the menu. So just to taste them all would cost a minimum of $42. If even one was marked as 'special' that would add an additional $8 giving me a $50 tab just for tasting. The least expensive pu-erh is $23. 50 for 2 ounces ... so a minimum of $73.50 to make up my mind to buy 2 ounces of tea. Ain't going to happen.
I didn't like the tea I tried. There was another one I really would have liked to try, but at another $7 ... nope. A lost potential sale.
To their credit, I was looking for a specific tea. The tea I tried wasn't it and when I paid I was given a card for a future tasting. So I guess I'll try the tea that interested me next time I'm there. Hopefully it will be the one I'm looking for.
Also,a woman came in after me. She was unfamiliar with the teas ... and I had a feeling she was unfamiliar with fine tea in general. When she heard about the $7 tasting fee for one tea, she just left. That is a shame. That could have been a potential future customer.
To tell you the truth, I really, really wanted this tea I'm searching for, otherwise I probably would have walked out too without doing any tasting.
The bar was totally occupied for the time I was in the shop, so I guess others don't have problems with the tasting fee.
One aside, it turns out Auberge de Soleil in Napa carries all the Teance teas and from what I was told, they serve them properly.
Teance Fine Teas
1780 4th St, Berkeley, CA 94710