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The Most Important Question in Your Life

Teresa Making a Difference at Samovar
Teresa Making a Difference at Samovar

Did I Make a Difference?

When it’s all said and done, will you consider whether your presence on this planet made one iota of difference? We believe everyone wants to know their lives made a difference. Why?

Because nothing else really matters. So what if you made a lot of money, traveled the world, or bought a lot of stuff. Did you make a difference? Let’s live our lives every single second of every single day knowing without hesitation that our lives made a difference for the better. And let’s live with an easygoing elegance that is contagious to everyone we touch. Below are six really simple ways you can make a huge difference.

1. Use compact fluorescent light bulbs.
If every household in America used just one bulb, this would equate to taking 1.3 million automobiles off the roads.

2. Shop at a farmer’s market once a month (or more) to eat healthy, seasonal, organic food produced by local farmers. It’s good for your taste buds, your health, local business, and the environment.

3. Help everyone get health care. We live in a great country, and it would be even greater if everyone had health care. Support initiative
H.R. 676 that supports universal health care.

4. Make peace by drinking tea. No, this is not blatant self promotion for Samovar. It’s just blatant truth. Tea is about connecting to the moment, whether alone or with others. If everyone were to have tea with a friend at least once a week, a lot of our problems would just go away.

5. Shorten your shower by just 10 seconds and conserve water and energy.

6. Reduce your environmental Toothprint.
By the time you die, most will have gone through at least 1,000 toothbrushes. That’s 100 million pounds of plastic toothbrushes in landfills in this country alone. Buy a toothbrush with a disposable head and you’ll have made a big difference.

For more information, check out these movies and resources:
Feature films: An Inconvenient Truth , by Al Gore and, Sicko by Michael Moore
http://www.climatecrisis.net/takeaction/whatyoucando/
http://www.michaelmoore.com/sicko/what-can-i-do/petitions/pnum649.php
http://www.eco-dent.com/
http://www.michaelpollan.com/

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Mirin Mirin on the Wall, Who’s the Fairest of them All?

This lil'Japanese Tetsubin Knows All About Good Mirin
This lil'Japanese Tetsubin Knows All About Good Mirin

What is mirin, why should you care, and what do we do about it?

Used in Japanese cooking since the 1600s, mirin (sweet cooking wine) imparts a sweetly rich and buttery profile that is deep and complex, providing incredible complexity to sauces, marinades, and glazes. It is the perfect vehicle for marrying the flavors of tamari, sesame oil, and ginger.

Because longevity and quality and true deliciousness matter to us more than price, we scoured the States and Japan to finally settle on the mirin we use– sourced from a small family operation in Japan that makes it nice and slow, the old-fashioned way. The mirin we use develops its complex by taste by ageing glutinous sweet rice for up to one year to create the natural, rich taste we love. Not only does this taste much better, it’s better for you than the mass produced, ready-made stuff available in your local supermarket (“flash” aged, and loaded with salt, refined sugar, MSG, and preservatives). So the next time you have Japanese food, ask what kind of mirin they use! And in the meantime, enjoy our Tofu!

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Slow Down 2008

A Slow Evening at Samovar Mission-Castro
A Slow Evening at Samovar Mission-Castro

Living in 2008, we sometimes get caught up in all our obligations and to-do lists., forgetting about the little things in life. At Samovar, we intentionally try to slow you down. Sometimes that can be painful, so please be patient. Through your pot of tea, and the experience of brewing, it, serving it, and sipping it, you will come to actually enjoy beauty of slowness.

As you wait for your pot of tea at Samovar, smell the fresh baked cherry-oat scones coming out of the oven. Or the cardamom and cinnamon and cloves simmering in a pot of chai on our stove. Watch those around you witnessing the same, savoring their time to sit still and absorbing the colors, people, and activity around them.

In slowness we are forced to experience the fluctuations and vacillations of our mind, our thinking, our patterns and habits, and our surroundings. Through slowness we witness the blowing of the wind, the honk of a horn, the smile of a passerby, the aroma of a cup of tea, the good morning kiss of a partner, the abilities of our body, the beauty inside our home.

How slow is slow enough? We are addicted to the speed, and the faster we go, the faster we want to go. But if you can slow down you will experience magic. There is no other way.

Slow things have more value, they take more time, and they deliver more. Slow food tastes better than fast food. Slow breathing makes you more relaxed than hyperventilating. Slow loving feels better. Friendships take time. A good meal takes time. Wild salmon takes time to grow up big and strong. Delicious produce takes time to go from seed to sprout to full grown and edible. Deep, meaningful, lasting companies take time to evolve, develop and prosper.

How do you live slower? Sip some tea and you’ll find out…

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Tomorrow’s Tamari Takes Time

Cooked Kale Tossed in a Tamari Seseme Dressing Isn't the Only Delicious Thing in the Japanese Tea Service
Cooked Kale Tossed in a Tamari Seseme Dressing Isn't the Only Delicious Thing in the Japanese Tea Service

Since the Buddhist monk Kakushin brought back the original soy sauce from China in 1254, soy sauce has become virtually ubiquitous world wide. So what is the difference between Soy Sauce, Shoyu and Tamari? Generally speaking, when people refer to soy sauce, they are referring to the light, fruity, salty taste of shoyu. Shoyu is made from a mash of soybeans and wheat.

At Samovar we decided to use traditional tamari instead, because it imparts a deeper, richer, darker, and more complex taste for our sauces, dips and marinades. Additionally, tamari in its traditional form, is wheat free. As an actual by-product from making soybean-miso-paste, our tamari is hand-made, and aged in cedar kegs for nearly two years by a family who has been doing it for nearly 400 years on the pristine island of Shodo. Because these kegs are no longer produced, our supplier is the only one in Japan making it this slow-aged way.

Sure it’s more costly when you compare it to the supermarket-soy sauce out there full of colorings, preservatives, sugar, salt, and additives. But, because we value health and taste above price, we believed strongly that nothing else compares to the rich, thick, velvety, and deeply flavorful profile of this tamari. Savor it and travel back to an era 400 years ago of hand-tied tatami mats, shoji screens, and bushido etiquette from feudal Japan.

Also, as our tamari is naturally fermented over many months, not only does it taste richer, it is also packed with healthy digestive enzymes and antioxidants.

As the world gets faster and faster and more industrialized, and as 99% of the soy sauce in the market is made in a matter of weeks, we feel really proud to offer you a soy sauce aged over two years ago by a family that takes their time to drink tea, and make our tamari the ancient, sloooooow way. Enjoy!

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The Four Agreements (Samovar-Style)

Tie Kwan Yin Agrees
Tie Kwan Yin Agrees

Tara, one of our esteemed leaders from the Yerba Buena location recently inspiredus with her book recommendation The Four Agreements, by Don Miguel Ruiz:

2. Nothing’s Personal. We aren’t at the center of the center of our own little Universe. Instead, our customers are. That said, we value your opinions and watch our actions, all without being too attached to outcomes. That way, we never take things hard, and always take it easy.

3. Assume Not. We live the questions and work our way toward answers on a daily basis. Communication is key, so our customers aren’t ever afraid to express what it is they want. With all eyes on our assumptions, misunderstandings, sadness and drama simply disappear.

4. Our Best, Always. Our best always looks the same, but we always give it. While circumstances change from moment to moment, our commitment to excellence never wavers. We’re simply too busy being the best that we can be, all day every day, to find room or time for judgments. Or, better yet, regrets.

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Samovar Tea Lounge Mission in a Teacup

Making Peace, One Cup of Tea at a Time
Making Peace, One Cup of Tea at a Time

For those of you who may not have had the chance to visit us in person, to experience what life is like in the tea lounge, you might not really understand our mission. So, we decided to put it down on paper, or screen in this case. It’s a starting point, and likely to change as time goes on. But, it will give you an idea of who we are, and what we do and why we do it, so enjoy!

Let’s face it People: Oneness is where it’s at. That’s why Samovar Tea Lounge upholds the Mission, the raison d’etre, the work that the almighty Universe has put before us all, as a charge to change Planet Earth, one happier, more fulfilled resident at a time. Uplifting our patrons with the human touch of love and light fosters a tribal sense of community, a healthy sense of vitality, and a Buddha-like sense of equanimity, which…in time…helps transform our world from the inside out. Imagine all that… with a few leaves, some water, and the sweet, sweet passing of time. Believe in Life.