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How to Buy Tea

Learn how to buy TeaChoosing teas from the seemingly never-ending selection can sometimes be daunting. Let Samovar Tea Lounge guide you through the maze of different teas and help you learn about what makes a good tea.

Before buying tea, it’s always optimal to taste it, just like wine. In general, you should buy small quantities – unless it’s a particular favorite – because this will allow you to consume the tea while it’s still fresh.

Continue reading How to Buy Tea

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How Tea is Made

Picking. Sorting. Steaming. Firing. Twisting. Oxidizing.
All of these techniques and more are used to produce the best tasting tea. Learn more about how the perfect leaf becomes the perfect sip.

All tea is made from the same plant.
Yes, you read right, all tea, whether it’s black, oolong, green, white, or pu-erh, comes from the Camellia sinensis plant in the same way that all wine comes from the grape, albeit different varietals.

Like wine, different tea leaf varietals have developed in different geographic locations. Each tea varietal’s unique characteristics are the result of the human selection, soil composition, and local weather patterns.

Processing makes all the difference.

Processing the tea in different ways creates different kinds of teas. (Just for the record, we need to differentiate between tea and herbal infusions. The former is what we’re describing here, the latter is a beverage made from herbs and plants such as lavender, chamomile, rooibos, lemongrass, and osmanthus.)

Continue reading How Tea is Made

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Learn About White Tea

learnwhiteteaWhite Teas are the least processed of teas. Harvested only once a year, during a few weeks in early spring, White Teas undergo a unique withering process that results in their fuzzy leaf appearance and full, creamy mouth-feel.

White Teas are minimally oxidized and not rolled, steamed, or fired like other teas.
The tradition and techniques for making White Tea originated in Fujian Province, China. The name “White Tea” comes from the tea’s appearance (the leaves and sprouts are covered with silvery-white hairs)– a characteristic unique to the original Fujian tea varietals that were selected to make this tea.

White Teas are made from the young, tender, new-growth spring leaves, they are low in caffeine and high in the amino acid, L-theanine, which contributes to the calming effect white tea has on the system.

Please see the Samovar White Teas

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Traveling Teacup: Samovar Tea Lounge, San Francisco

press02070a9by Cynthia Fazekas
While at the recent Winter Fancy Food show in San Francisco, I was to meet a tea friend for a lunch meeting during one of the show days. My friend Elisabeth, proprietor of the recently expanded Teacup in Seattle, brought her smiling self into our booth where we exchanged hugs and how-are-you’s and walked out of the Moscone Center in search of lunch. Our original intention was to go to the museum but as we crossed the walkway to Yerba Buena Gardens we noticed a much better option for two tea aficionados: Samovar Tea Lounge.

We looked at each other with a happy gleam and immediately decide this was our place. As it was my first time in San Francisco, I hadn’t realized Samovar was so close!

Inside boasts a warm contemporary feel with lots of wood and earth tones. We took a table by the window from which I could see the esplanade and a greenery covered walkway. Our server brought menus affixed to lovely bamboo boards. Nice touch! Elisabeth chose the English style tea service and I asked our server for his recommendation for a dairy-free choice. He suggested the Chinese tea service, which I happily accepted.

Our teas came out first, and we welcomed them with appreciation. Elisabeth’s selection came in a small modern style ceramic teapot. She kindly shared it with me and we discerned smooth but rich malty notes and later learned it was their Samovar Breakfast Blend. The three-tiered English tea service it perfectly accompanied a mushroom quiche, green salad, fruit and scone with jam and clotted cream. Elisabeth declared all to be delicious! I secretly coveted her scone.

My Chinese tea service began with a tea tray beset with a cast iron kettle, tiny black Yixing filled with dark fragrant leaves and a handle-less earthenware cup. Our soft-spoken server suggested a 45 second steep and expertly poured the first infusion for me. Sipping the brew revealed an earthy-fruity pu erh with a hint of ginger – Samovar’s lovely Blood Orange Pu Erh. I relished each sip and subsequent infusions. It paired well with my meal, which was a Chinese duck and veggie stir-fry with squash dumplings. The dumplings, by the way, were tender with a sweet and savory appeal that really hit the spot for me.

Most delightful – and filling! Once satiated and tea-filled, we were slightly sad to leave the peaceful ambiance of Samovar Tea Lounge and return to the noise and hustle of the trade show floor. A tea-oasis in a beautiful setting, this is just one of the three Samovar Tea Lounge locations. The newest is 297 Page Street at Laguna in the San Francisco Hayes Valley neighborhood.

Media Contact:
Jesse Cutler, Samovar: (415) 655-3431 / [email protected]

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Jesse

Ambassador Jesse
Ambassador Jesse

Photography, surfing, a bit of tai chi, yoga, some conversational Danish, leadership books, being a dada, clearing his inbox, and checking off tasks from his lists are among Jesse’s interests. And of course tea. Jesse always has a lot going on, but somehow manages to fit it all in no matter what. And, always with a cup of his favorite…

“Hika Sencha is a definite. I like to start my day, and continue my day with this tea. I’m pretty sensitive to caffeine so I like this tea because it has just enough to help keep me focused. This tea has a very mellow grassiness, and a beautiful, sweet creaminess–and yet it is really light. An amazing tea, and, I love it because it comes in such limited quantities.”

“After a long day, I really like to unwind with the Ocean of Wisdom herbal infusion while listening to Parov Stellar. It’s as beautiful to look at as it is to drink. It has no caffeine because it’s an herbal, and yet it has a bright, spicy, taste.”

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Joanna

When she isn’t busy being Marcus’s momma, creating cartoons, going to yoga, studying the i-ching , or working, Joanna finds herself hiking the San Francisco Bay Area . But what are her favorite teas?

“Orange Ginger is really good. It’s citrus-y and slightly sweet. It has a lot of vitamin C in it and is very warming.”

“My favorite pu-erh is the Maiden’s Ecstasy. I actually love going to dim sum with friends, and sneaking in my own tea–and I always bring the Maiden’s Ecstasy when I go! It handles the rich foods of dim sum. All those savory dumplings are even more delicious when I pair this tea with the meal. It’s smooth, not musty like a lot of the aged teas out there. Kind of malty, kind of earthy, and a little bit coffee-like even.”

“After yoga, or a long hike, my favorite hydrating tea is the white tea, Bai Mu Dan. It has a savory quality that is like a meal in itself.”
Ambassador Joanna
Ambassador Joanna
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Jodet

When Jodet isn’t busy helping lead the Samovar team, or living in the downstairs basement of Samovar (OK, maybe that’s an exaggeration), she’s having herself a cup of Lychee Black. “The Lychee Black is an essence of who I am,” she says. “I love that tea like I love my mom. It’s my favorite tea of all time.”

“I drink it in my office every morning, and at times on my roof top overlooking the water at home while listening to the Idan Raichel Project. Pair it with a jook or an egg bowl, and you have yourself a perfect, warming meal! When Jodet isn’t sipping her Lychee, she’s practicing vinyasa yoga, obsessing about design and architecture, tending to her cat Madison, or flipping through Architectural Digest magazine.”

She has a love for print journalism, fashion photography, Chinese herbs and acupuncture, white wine and fine dining, and of course, the tea culture and its many meticulous details.

Jodet speaks Farsi , Armenian, English (of course), and is currently studying Spanish with the intent to become fluent. She’s attending school for her MBA.

“I grew up drinking tea from really beautiful, authentic, gold-plated, traditional Samovars in Iran. Tea has been an important part of my life since childhood.”

Ambassador Jodet
Ambassador Jodet
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Jonathan

This man has many talents…he teaches yoga and meditation every week throughout the United States and abroad, he’s the founder of the Learning To Listen Yoga & Meditation Center (a non-profit committed to offering tools for conscious living), he has written two books, and recorded two audio cds.

Jonathan believes that if done mindfully, all things can lead one to a greater appreciation of this life. He feels tea’s production process, its historic culture, and the community it attracts, all display and evoke a mindful life. For Jonathan, it seems the subtlety of tea’s drinking experience ultimately steeps the sipper in awareness itself. Jonathan’s favorites include the Herbal Tea Sampler: mellowness all around. For something more exotic, he goes for the Palace Pu-erh!

“Tea is an open secret, an offering where nothing is hidden and all is shared – if only we pause long enough to take refuge in the warmth that is tea’s home…”

Ambassador Jonathan
Ambassador Jonathan
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Karter

When he takes time away from singing live performances, which range from acoustic to hip-hop, and flying around the globe, Karter is into really chilling- out with tea.

“Russian Tea–all the way! Every day, all day. The caffeine really makes me alert, and the flavor just keeps releasing from the leaves. Plus, I love that it is blended right here at Samovar. My other favorite is the herbal infusion of Moorish Mint. It’s a little sweet, and really full bodied, and perfect when I want to really mellow out. When I have friends over, I love to make Matcha and do the whole ceremony thing. It tastes grassy and leaves a beautiful foam mustache on your upper lip.”

Ambassador Karter
Ambassador Karter
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Loraine

Loraine (also known as Lobo) is one of the most easy-going people to know. She’s down-to-earth and always has a smile on her face.

The name for one of our infamous Japanese Senchas, Lobocha… was named after our Lobo, who has a passion for green teas.

Loraine has been working at Samovar since she was in diapers–maybe not exactly that long, but a long time coming.

When Lorraine isn’t traveling around the jungles of Thailand, or spinning records in the comfort of her home, she’s checking out live shows in the city, improving her skills as a DJ, dancing, buying new music equipment, checking out shows at the Mezzanine, eating sushi, or collecting good Sake. She’s quite adventurous, and loves to drink the Hika.

She pairs her green teas with a salmon maki bowl, and she has herself a perfect meal.

Ambassador Lobo
Ambassador Lobo
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Luis

Luis is one of our cooks here at Samovar, so it is no surprise that he always has an opinion on what teas to pair with different foods.

A native of Yucatan, Mexico, Luis loves to play different musical instruments on his free time. “I play the keyboard and the drums” Luis says, “I come from a very musical family, everyone in my family plays an instrument”.

But how does Luis know about tea? well, he has been drinking it his whole life “I grew up drinking tea, mostly herbal infusions, but I’ve always liked the way it brings people together, even if it is just for a brief moment.” Luis loves to drink the Silver Bud Melon Frost because of its flavor and aroma. He likes to pair his tea with the Duck Jook.

Ambassador Luis
Ambassador Luis
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Noel

When Noel is not serving at Samovar Tea Lounge, she can be found dancing the night away at local venues, or reading “The Tipping Point.”

Noel loves to read, explore, and learn new things , especially expanding her knowledge about the Samovar food menu.

Noel says, “There’s nothing better than a cup of Hika with some buttery toast for breakfast. Yum…” Pair that with some jazzy music, and Noel has herself a perfect afternoon.

Ambassador Noel
Ambassador Noel
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Paul F.

Ambassadors Paul F
Ambassadors Paul F

While surfing the Pacific, practicing a bit of yoga on Sundays…interspersed with some computer programming here and there–Paul is constantly fueled by Samovar’s Masala Chai.

“I guess I am a chai guy. I love it here at the lounge, cooked up thick and creamy and sweet and spicy. Full flavor, and a good caffeine boost when I am working a lot, or working a little. I also love cooking it up at home, and adding some of my personal favorites: extra Assam tea, soy milk, honey, and fresh herbs.”

“When I am in the mood for something more traditional, I often go for the Monkey Picked Iron Goddess of Mercy . Strong, but very complex, and good for many, many infusions.”

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Paul T.

Ambassador Paul T
Ambassador Paul T

After eight years on the hardpan of the Sonoran desert, Paul moved to the concrete and metal canyons of San Francisco to pursue the urban tea lifestyle as well as his artistic dreams as a writer. “The Israelites did 40 years in the desert but I only ended up having to do eight,” he jokes about his years in exile.

Crossing the wilderness to the promise land led to the discovery of spiritual purification practices like Vipassana meditation, the martial art Aikido, the Lakota Ceremonial way of life known as The Red Road, and of course the power of Tea Ceremony.

The Fall of 2009 marks ten years under the tutelage of his Buddhist meditation teacher Shinzen Young. Later this year, he plans on completing the production of his first documentary film, Thunderdreamer, the life story of his mentor Wicasa Intankan Tatanka Weitgo, also known as Chief Phillip Aaron Crazybull, also known as Phil, an authentic Heyoka Medicine Man.

Samovar’s Ceremonial blog contributor reaches for Monkey Picked Iron Goddess of Mercy, Kuan Yin’s classic elixir, to ease the monkey mind and loves getting the job done with assistance from the smoky buzz of Samovar’s Russian Blend.

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Rama

Ambassador Rama
Ambassador Rama

Rama likes to pair to of her favorite habits together: reading and tea. She never does one without the other. Currently she is reading Franz Kafka .

“My favorite thing to drink lately is the Japanese Kukicha. I like lighter flavored teas and this one is very subtle and delicate. I also love the Jasmine Pearl. My favorite thing about this tea is that it is so beautiful to watch. Each dried tea pearl comes very compact, until you add it to hot water, and then, it opens up like a caterpillar stretching. I like to just watch it open, and twist around in my pot.”

“Every Sunday morning I go to a 6-hour yoga class, and it is really intense. After class I need some relaxing time, and I usually turn to Osmanthus Silver Needle . I like its soothing, subtle sweetness and evergreen coolness. So cooling, full bodied, and smooth, I love this one after my long yoga class.”

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Robert

Ambassador Robert
Ambassador Robert

“My first pu-erh ever, is still my favorite. The Maiden’s Ecstasy . Bittersweet chocolate is what it reminds me of, but it is just aged tea. I love this one because it’s great for travel, and I always carry a can with me when I travel home to London to visit my family. They all drink the standard breakfast blends, so, when I bring out this exotic little wrapped tea-nugget, they are all intrigued. Just unwrapping it is really exciting–part of the ceremony.”

“My other every day, favorite tea it the Monkey Picked Iron Goddess of Mercy . So many infusions, with so few leaves. This tea packs a punch–caffeine as well as the classic Tieguanyin woodsy-floral profile. I actually even believe the lore about this tea: It has a rather energizing effect on the libido. My other favorite oolong is the Wuyi Dark Roast. I always serve this tea for special occasions, like when I have a dinner party. You always get many infusions”

“I love to camp. And, whenever I go my old faithful tea is the Wei Chi Cha. Refreshing and re hydrating, it is the best thing to have to start the day. No caffeine, and loads of taste. You can’t go wrong with that herbal.

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Learn About Green Tea

learngreenteaJade, emerald, golden, grassy, hay, ocean, oceanic, nutty, fresh, lively, smooth, fuzzy, uplifting, cooling, and nourishing. All These words describe Green Tea. Everybody knows Green Tea, but what is that makes a tea “Green?”

Green Teas are teas that have not been allowed to oxidize much.

While White Tea undergoes virtually no processing, Green Tea is made by processing the leaf soon after it is picked to assure that the leaf is only minimally oxidized. The “green” in Green Tea is fixed into the leaf through heat: either by steaming or pan-firing the leaves. Each process brings out those classic Green Tea notes, which range from really vegetal and grassy, to buttery and nutty with hints of alfalfa, persimmon, and hay.

Depending on where and how it was processed, a Green Tea can have a strong or a delicate flavor. Good Green Tea should have a complexity of freshness, vibrancy, potency, and really positive uplifting energy.

One of our favorite things about Green Tea is the incredible diversity within this classification of tea. “Green Tea” encompasses many different processes and flavor profiles. The roasted twigs of Houjicha are really toasty, dark, nutty and hearty, while Senchas are so grassy and vegetal.

When you sip a good Green Tea, your first response should be, “Wow. Amen. That is Green Tea!” The aroma should be of freshness, whether ocean air or cut grass, and the first sip should really awaken your mouth. The body should be noticeable, smooth and buttery, with a tiny tingling of astringency on your tongue. You should be able to really feel the body swirl in between your cheeks and tongue, while you sense the aroma in your nose. After you swallow, the taste should linger on… slowly dissolving until the next sip.

Brewed properly, with good tasting water, Green Tea is a real luxury. It feels wholly healthy. It has just enough caffeine to keep you gently stimulated and able to buzz about your day. Or you can just sit there, sipping the tea and loving life. Our Green Teas come directly from the farms of our tea family friends in Japan and China.

A good Green Tea should leave you salivating… wanting more after each sip. It should make you feel really good. Just plain youthful and fresh and healthy.

Please see the Samovar Green Teas

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Learn About Oolong Tea

Learn Oolong TeaOolong Tea is the category of semi-oxidized teas. The process for making an Oolong Teas is different for each kind, but includes nuances from green and black tea production. Oolong teas are very much like wine in that geographical origin can signal a specific tea bush varietal, micro-climate, and tradition of processing.

To encourage and control leaf oxidation, the Tea Masters who make Oolongs employ various stages of withering, bruising (to encourage oxidation), roasting (to stop oxidation), rolling, and baking techniques. The amount that a particular tealeaf is allowed to oxidize before baking results in the range of oolong infusion color: from bright green or golden to amber or reddish infusions.

Oolong Teas that are more oxidized, as with black tea, have a darker, coppery, reddish-amber infusion. Less oxidized Oolongs have a greener or golden-green infusion.

Oolong Teas was first made in Fujian, China during the 18th century. Today Oolongs are produced in Guangdong and Fujian, China, Taiwan, Northern Thailand, Myanmar, and Vietnam. Oolongs can be made with spring, autumn, and winter leaves- with each harvest possessing unique characteristics.

Oolong teas have complex flavor profiles and there is a wide range of them. Some oolongs are processed into tightly packed pellets or pearls (pack rolled), while others are long and twisted (long rolled). These differences in appearance are created by distinct rolling techniques that vary from region to region.

Please see the Samovar Oolong Teas

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Learn About Black Tea

Learn black teaBlack Tea is the class of tea that is considered to be fully-oxidized. The processing of Black Tea originated in China, where it is known as Hong Cha, or “Red Tea.” When this fully-oxidized tea came to the west, people saw the black color of the dry leaves and Black Tea got its name.

Black tea is processed to become dark. This means that enzymatic oxidation is encouraged.

With black tea, the leaf is not fired until the leaf has oxidized to a point that the Tea Master making the tea determines is enough. If the tea is not oxidized enough, it will be to green in flavor. Too much oxidation and the tea will taste flat and dusty.

The resulting infusion of a Black Tea is a coppery “red.” This change in color occurs as a result of the way oxidation alters the polyphenols in the tealeaf. Fresh tealeaves are rich in polyphenols (the antioxidants), which have a clear and greenish pigment. When these clear-green polyphenols oxidize, they become Theaflavin, which has a golden-yellow pigment (as with the infusions of oolongs and white teas). In black tea, the Theaflavin has further oxidized and become Thearubigin, which has a reddish pigment.

Due to the hearty tea leaf varietals traditionally selected to make Black Tea, the infusions tend to be higher in caffeine than most other kinds of tea.

Please see the Samovar Black Teas

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Hayes Valley

Location Hayes ValleyCentrally located, yet nestled in the quiet residential neighborhood just outside Hayes Valley. A roaring fireplace, long communal table, and several nooks for sipping and chatting make up this tranquil gathering space.

Guidelines for Hosting Your Event

If you have a group of friends or family and you want to create a really special experience, let us arrange a private event for you. Below are the guidelines for setting up an event for Bridal Showers, Office Parties, Weddings, Birthday Parties, Corporate Receptions, and more. If you have additional questions, please email us [email protected] s a m o v a r l i f e. c o m

Please review the following guidelines and then email us at [email protected] s a m o v a r l i f e. c o m to discuss the details.

1. What is the date and time of your event?
– Peak Time: 12 noon to 8pm, every day.
– Off Peak Time: 10am – 12 noon, 8pm – 10pm, every day

2. How many guests do you plan to invite?
– For events with 2 to 30 guests, we hold your event during our normal business day, and the space is shared with our other customers.
– For events with over 30 guests, we close down our business just for you, and your party has the entire tea lounge available and dedicated to your event.

3. What would you like to eat and drink?
– We work closely with you to create a menu that is special and that meets your group’s needs (vegan, vegetarian, etc.)
– Either brunch items or non-brunch items can be chosen, depending on the time of day of your event.
– Select the type of tea service from our menu for your group. You can choose several different styles and enjoy sharing.

4. What is your budget?

– $60 per person, including tax and gratuity reservation fee.
– Events in which we close down our entire facility for your event are beautiful, delicious, and really memorable. For pricing information, please contact us to discuss the details.
– Appetizers, dessert, and additional tea are not included in the pricing above. Depending on quantity and specifics, prices for these items will vary. Please ask!

5. Where would you like to have your event?

@ Hayes Valley Samovar, you have two options:

Private Dining Room For up to 30 guests in our private dining room, a large community table, several private nooks, a fireplace, and a beautiful Kuan Yin overlooking the event.

The Entire Tea Lounge
For up to 50 Guests, enjoy the entire tea lounge! For pricing information on reserving the entire space, please email us at [email protected] s a m o v a r l i f e. c o m.

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Hayes Valley

Samovar Hayes ValleyWe are open…

Every day: 10am – 10 pm

We are located… in the Hayes Valley neighborhood of San Francisco, a couple blocks from the center of Hayes Valley.

297 Page Street (@ Laguna Street)
San Francisco, CA 94102
Phone: (415) 861-0303

For Directions to Samovar, Please Use the Get Directions Link in the Map Below


View Map

Parking
There is restricted 2 hour and unrestricted street parking on Page Street, Laguna Street, and most surrounding streets. Please be sure to observe the street parking signs.

Bike Parking
There is one bike rack outside of Samovar Hayes Valley. All other bike parking can be found against street signs.

Public Transport…
MUNI
6-Line, 7-Line, 71-Line: The 6,7,& 71 bus lines stop at the corner of Haight St. and Laguna St. Walk one block to Page St. and Laguna St.

MUNI Underground: The closest Muni Underground stop is Van Ness Station.
All inbound and outbound underground lines stop at Van Ness Station.
Exit Station and walk along Market Street to Page Street.
Turn Right onto Page Street. Walk about 3 blocks up Page Street to Laguna Street.
Turn Left and you can enter the Tea Lounge.
(This is about a 9 minute walk).

BART:
Get off at the Civic Center Station.
Exit Station and walk about 5 blocks SW along Market Street toward Page Street.
Turn Right onto Page Street. Walk about 3 blocks up Page Street to Laguna Street.
Turn Left and enter the Tea Lounge.
(This is about a 16 minute walk).

Samovar’s Reservation Policy
Samovar is a walk-in only establishment, so we are unable to take reservations ahead of time. Parties of 2-4 are usually very easy to accommodate at any time. For parties of 6 or more, you are welcome to call ahead 20 minutes in advance to see if we can accommodate your group at that time.

If you would like to ensure seating for a large group, we also offer meal reservation packages which include a reserved table, meal, and teas for everyone in the party. This special reservation is available for $60 per person. You can pre-select food and tea from our menu to have them specially prepared in family-style platters. For more information, please email [email protected] s a m o v a r l i f e. c o m .

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Yerba Buena Gardens

Yerba Buena GardensWe are open…
Sunday – Wednesday: 10am – 8 pm
Thursday – Saturday: 10am – 9 pm
Phone:
(415) 227-9400

Located in the heart of downtown San Francisco, above the waterfall on the Upper Terrace in the Yerba Buena Gardens.
730 Howard Street (between 3rd and 4th Streets)
San Francisco, CA 94103

For Directions to Samovar, Please use Get Directions Link in the map below:
View Map

Directions on foot from Union Square
1. Walk South towards 4th St, to Mission St. (2 minutes)
2. Take a left on Mission St, and walk East to the entrance to the Yerba Buena Gardens (2 minutes)
3. Take a right into the Gardens, and follow the path which parallels the Sony Metreon.
4. Walk up the stairs to the upper terrace, above the Martin Luther King waterfall, and come on in!

Parking
1. Street Parking:
Street parking is metered with a two-hour limit.
After 6 p.m. there is no need to plug the meter.
Always check for and carefully read the parking restrictions posted along the surrounding blocks. Most streets have street cleaning from 12 a.m. to 6 a.m.

2. Moscone Center Garage
255 Third Street (between Folsom and Howard Streets)
Phone 415-777-2782
Open 6 AM to 11:30 PM Monday to Saturday. Closed Sunday

3. 5th & Mission Yerba Buena Gardens Garage
833 Mission Street (between 4th and 5th Streets)
Phone 415-982-8522
Open 24 hours, 7 days a week

Bike Parking
Please park your bike on one of the bike racks that have been installed around the perimeter of Yerba Buena Gardens
(There is one at the garden enterance on Mission St. between 3rd St. and 4th St.)
Unfortunately, if you lock your bike to a random pole or railing within the garden, it may be cited or removed by Yerba Buena Gardens management.

Public Transport
MUNI / BART
1. Take either MUNI or BART to the “Powell Street” station, and exit onto Market Street.
2. Walk South on 4th St, one block to Mission St. (1 minute)
3. Take a left on Mission St, and walk 1/2 block East to the entrance to the Yerba Buena Gardens (1 minute)
4. Take a right into the Gardens, and follow the path which parallels the Sony Metreon.
5. Walk up the stairs to the upper terrace, above the Martin Luther King Waterfall, and come on in!

Samovar’s Reservation Policy
Samovar is a walk-in only establishment, so we are unable to take reservations ahead of time. Parties of 2-4 are usually very easy to accommodate at any time. For parties of 6 or more, you are welcome to call ahead 20 minutes in advance to see if we can accommodate your group at that time.

If you would like to ensure seating for a large group, we also offer meal reservation packages which include a reserved table, meal, and teas for everyone in the party. This special reservation is available for $60 per person. You can pre-select food and tea from our menu to have them specially prepared in family-style platters. For more information, please email [email protected] s a m o v a r l i f e. c o m .

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Mission-Castro

Mission-CastroWe are open…
Every Day: 10am-10:00pm
Phone: (415) 626-4700

We are located…. in the Castro-Mission area of San Francisco
498 Sanchez Street (on the corner of 18th Street)

San Francisco, CA 94114
View Map

Parking
There is 2-hour street parking all along Sanchez Street and throughout the Mission and Castro.
There is all-day parking on Dolores Street.

Bike Parking
There are two bike racks outside of Samovar Mission- Castro

Public Transport
MUNI
J-Church: We are 1 block west (uphill) from the J-Church stop at 18th Street.
33-Line : The # 33 bus line stops directly outside our tea lounge.
K, L, M Lines: We are three blocks from the Castro Street Station on the MUNI underground.
Walk 1 block down Castro to 18th St, turn left, walk 2 blocks.
F-Market rail line: We are three blocks from the end of the historic F-Market rail line.
Walk 1 block down Castro, turn left onto 18th St for 2 blocks.

BART
Get off @ 16th Street & Mission Street Station.
Take 16th Street west for 5 blocks, then turn left on Sanchez Street.
We are 2 blocks down, at 18th Street.

Samovar’s Reservation Policy
Samovar is a walk-in only establishment, so we are unable to take reservations ahead of time. Parties of 2-4 are usually very easy to accommodate at any time. For parties of 6 or more, you are welcome to call ahead 20 minutes in advance to see if we can accommodate your group at that time.

If you would like to ensure seating for a large group, we also offer meal reservation packages which include a reserved table, meal, and teas for everyone in the party. This special reservation is available for $60 per person. You can pre-select food and tea from our menu to have them specially prepared in family-style platters. For more information, please email [email protected] s a m o v a r l i f e. c o m .

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Yerba Buena Gardens

Samovar Yerba Buena Gardens

We are open…
Sunday – Wednesday:
10am – 8 pm
Thursday – Saturday: 10am – 9 pm
Phone:
(415) 227-9400

Located in the heart of downtown San Francisco, above the waterfall on the Upper Terrace in the Yerba Buena Gardens.
730 Howard Street (between 3rd and 4th Streets)
San Francisco, CA 94103

Directions to Our Store:
from the North Bay
1. US-101 S toward SAN FRANCISCO 10.6 miles
2. Turn RIGHT onto VAN NESS AVE / US-101. .3 miles
3. Turn LEFT onto BROADWAY ST. 0.1 miles
4. BROADWAY ST becomes BROADWAY TUNNEL / ROBERT C LEVY TUNNEL.
0.5 miles
5. BROADWAY TUNNEL / ROBERT C LEVY TUNNEL becomes BROADWAY ST. 0.1 miles
6. Turn RIGHT onto STOCKTON ST. 0.3 miles
7. STOCKTON ST becomes STOCKTON ST TUNNEL. 0.1 miles
8. STOCKTON ST TUNNEL becomes STOCKTON ST. 0.3 miles
9. STOCKTON ST becomes 4TH ST. 0.1 miles
10. Turn LEFT onto MISSION ST.
11. Park, and follow walking directions to Samovar

from the South Bay
1. US-101 N toward SAN FRANCISCO
2. Take I-80 E toward BAY BRIDGE / OAKLAND / SEVENTH ST / US-101 N.
3. Take the FOURTH ST exit toward EMBARCADERO. 0.1 miles
4. Turn SLIGHT LEFT onto BRYANT ST. 0.1 miles
5. Turn LEFT onto 3RD ST. 0.4 miles
6. Turn RIGHT onto MISSION ST.
7. Park, and follow walking directions to Samovar

from the East Bay
1. I-80 W toward SAN FRANCISCO
3. Take the FREMONT ST exit. 0.4 miles
4. Turn LEFT onto FREMONT ST. 0.1 miles
5. Turn LEFT onto MISSION ST. 0.4 miles
6. End at Yerba Buena Gardens
7. Find Parking and walk to Samovar Tea Lounge in the Gardens

on foot from Union Square
1. Walk South towards 4th St, to Mission St. (2 minutes)
2. Take a left on Mission St, and walk East to the entrance to the Yerba Buena Gardens (2 minutes)
3. Take a right into the Gardens, and follow the path which parallels the Sony Metreon.
4. Walk up the stairs to the upper terrace, above the Martin Luther King waterfall, and come on in!

Parking
1. Street Parking:
Street parking is metered with a two-hour limit.                                                                                                                          After 6 p.m. there is no need to plug the meter.                                                                                                                               Always check for and carefully read the parking restrictions posted along the surrounding blocks. Most streets have street cleaning from 12 a.m. to 6 a.m.

2. Moscone Center Garage
255 Third Street (between Folsom and Howard Streets)
Phone 415-777-2782
Open 6 AM to 11:30 PM Monday to Saturday. Closed Sunday

3. 5th & Mission Yerba Buena Gardens Garage
833 Mission Street (between 4th and 5th Streets)
Phone 415-982-8522
Open 24 hours, 7 days a week
Bike Parking

Please park your bike on one of the bike racks that have been installed around the perimeter of Yerba Buena Gardens (There is one at the garden enterance on Mission St. between 3rd St. and 4th St.)                          Unfortunately, if you lock your bike to a random pole or railing within the garden, it may be cited or removed by Yerba Buena Gardens management.

Public Transport
MUNI / BART
1. Take either MUNI or BART to the “Powell Street” station, and exit onto Market Street.
2. Walk South on 4th St, one block to Mission St. (1 minute)
3. Take a left on Mission St, and walk 1/2 block East to the entrance to the Yerba Buena Gardens (1 minute)
4. Take a right into the Gardens, and follow the path which parallels the Sony Metreon.
5. Walk up the stairs to the upper terrace, above the Martin Luther King Waterfall, and come on in!

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Escape from the Outside World at Samovar

Dennis is a beloved regular at Samovar. Everyday he graces us with his kind eyes and spirit.
He comes to escape the hectic outside world, and to drift off over a pot of Ryokucha.

If you’ve had an inspirational experience at any of our locations, please, tell us about it–draw it, write it, email it. Let us know and we’ll show the world.

Our deep gratitude to Ashanti for her amazing rendition of Dennis’ escape here in Samovar Yerba Buena Gardens.

Escape
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Learn About Pu-erh Tea

Learn pu_erh TeaPu-erh Tea is the class of tea that is fermented to a certain extent. Pu-erh Tea gets its name from the market of the city of Pu-erh, in Yunnan Province, China, where this tea was historically brought for sale from the more remote regions of the countryside where the tea is actually grown and processed.
Authentic Pu-erh are made with Yunnan’s famous broad-leaf tea tree varietals.

There are two types of Pu-erh: Raw Pu-erh and Cooked (or “Ripe”) Pu-erh.

Often Pu-erh teas are referred to as aged teas. This is because, unlike white, green, yellow, black, and most oolong teas, which are highly perishable and have a short shelf life, well-made pu-erh teas may be stored and aged for years of enjoyment. Also, unlike other teas, Pu-erh teas are usually exposed to a fermentation process.
Both types of Pu-erh Tea (Raw and Cooked) are made with Sai qing “sun-cured green tea,” which is processed by withering, roasting, rolling, kneading and drying the leaves in the sun.

This is how Raw Pu-erh is made: After it is processed as Sai Qing, the tea leaves can either be left loose or compressed into shapes. At this point the tea may either be consumed in this “raw” green/semi-green form, or properly stored for aging, (which means the tea will be subject to further oxidation and to fermentation).

This is how Cooked (or “ripened”) Pu-erh Tea is made:  It is subjected to a transformation through natural fermentation. After the tealeaves have been processed as Sai qing, they are intentionally fermented in piles by adding purified water and mixing the tealeaves in a well-ventilated, climate and temperature controlled room. This process is similar to composting.

Once the desired fermentation is complete, the tea is sorted, graded, and then processed as either loose pu-erh or it can be compressed into shapes (like tea bricks or tea cakes).

The flavor profile of many pu-erh teas are complex layers of pungent earth, moss, damp wood, with and prevailing sweetness.

Please see the Samovar Pu-erh Teas