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Asha: the An-Tea Starbucks

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Asha Tea House

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Two steps between a bank and a pizza joint, Asha Tea House keeps itself quiet from the hustle of University Avenue. Cleanly modeled with metal and wood there is not a lot of flair to to Asha's modern design besides their illustrated and categorized tea menu. Neatly listed are bubble, milk, green, fruit and oolong.

A 'Loyalty Program' is on front and center display for people who would like to join the piling members of the Asha Tea Club and take on the pleasant and probably pricey challenge of trying the many teas they have to offer.

A metallic board on the counter shares Polaroids of the employees who work there smiling with handwritten names below them; an inventive replacement for name tags. Tea inquiries for newcomers are kindly answered up front with instructions hanging nearby on specifying, size, ice and for here or to-go. Drinks delivered at the back by the barista always to Asha's measurements, meaning drinks with no ice will be smaller. This issue is a non-negotiable as Asha stands by its standards of how the teas are blended, brewed and made to be served on ice (if cold). Cookies and light baked treats are available upfront and made so locally that some are not even sealed in their bags. The 'Blueberry Green' and 'Pineapple Honey' are served ice-cold with the natural sweet taste of the blended fruit. The 'Milk Teas' are tasty and popular but are not available with bobas first thing in the morning because they are made in-house, creating a great excuse to try something different.

Glass mugs and tea sets are also sold and on display a la Starbucks, which is not very surprising as that was the point of inspiration for it. However, unlike the Starbucks nearby, there is also a convenient restroom available to customers. For some tea drinkers, Asha's standards may seem limited, but thought and care is evident in the teas blended and served here. A tea blog is kept on their site promoting new flavors receiving consideration. Asha is Taiwanese for 'one who enjoys life' and anyone who has a cup of the tea here, will definitely, in the moment, be doing just that.

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