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Coffee & Tea

Tea at two - Celadon and Miette

Stanley Stephan | Feb 10, 200302:36 AM

I thought I’d quickly mention that Celadon carries pastries and cakes from Miette, the organic bakers that sell at the SF Ferry Plaza Market. So if you like their baked goods, here is a place to enjoy them.

However, being on a diet, I just tried the tea. There are also tea snacks and Asian pastries. Again, ignored them. Just reading about them off the menu.

I needed to meet a friend in Berkeley and he suggested Celadon. I’ve been meaning to try Celadon since it was mentioned briefly in the Chronicle a year ago.

I found out later that tea tasting at Celadon would be a totally different experience from Imperial Tea.

To do tasting, you sit at the tea bar. You can order as few as one or as many as you would like. Each tasting is $2. If you buy the tea later, the fee is waived. There is a complementary tasting for the tea of the day.

You have a staff member with you for the entire tasting. I don’t know tea ware terminology, so please bear with me.

The server asks for your preferences and then guides you through the list. It was in the evening and my friend was interested in low or no caffeine teas.

We started with White Down, which is made from the tip of a mature tea bush. It is low caffeine.

A tiny white porcelain cup no bigger around than a half dollar was placed on a small tray. The server placed the tea in a larger cup and let us smell the tea. She then added a tiny amount of water, swirled the tea and drained the water out. She said this is done to open the tea leaves and to remove small pieces that might have broken up in the processing.

The beautiful counter is designed so that is slopes inward so that the discarded water can run out to some place under the counter, I assume. Nice design, I’m not describing it adequately.

We then smelled the tea again. Celadon was more scrupulous about water temperature than Imperial Tea. Some teas required hotter water than others.

The server timed the brewing and then strained it through a gourd into a small ceramic pitcher. The server said that metal strainers could taint the taste of the tea which is why the gourd was used.

There’s about 4 tiny cups of tea in the pitcher. About a 3 sips in each cup. If you like, they will add more water to the tea for additional cups.

This post would be five times as long if I mentioned all I learned about tea at Celadon. I learned the best way to store tea and keep it fresh, how many times it could be infused, infusing temperatures. They were really eager to answer questions and extremely knowledgeable.

I mentioned that when I was in Taiwan about six years ago, I brought back some tea that was ten years old. I asked if it might still be drinkable. The server said to bring it in. They would try to identify it and see if my now 16 year old tea had aged with grace. I thought that was really going the extra mile.

We also tried
- White Peony Longevity which is tea buds of green tea.
- White Dragon Pearls which was described as highest grade rolled Jasmine green. Lovely, subtle flavor. There was some story about Dragon’s teeth being as white as pearls, therefore the name.
- 25 year old Pu-erh. The server said because of the long aging there was no caffeine in the tea. This almost tasted like rich black loam smells. Very earthy. I really liked it and bought some to take home.

The white teas were nice but too delicate for my taste.

The shop is one of the best designed I have ever seen with the same attention to detail that is paid to the tea.

Celadon is named for the green glaze of Chinese pottery and for the color of fresh green tea leaves. I bought some tea and a tea tin and it was in a Celadon green bag with a green sheet of brewing instructions.

There is a long colored concrete counter with embedded fossils that has a narrow stream of water running through it that falls in a cascade on smooth river rocks.

Co-owner Fu-Tung Cheng, an award-winning Berkeley kitchen designer, indeed created the lovely peaceful oasis that was the dream for Celadon.

If you don’t know the area, it is on the border of Berkeley. A short drive on Solano from the Cheeseboard or a few blocks up on San Pablo from Acme Bread. If you are in that Berkeley area, I highly recommend trying Celadon.



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