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How to Make a Matcha Shake

The Soy Matcha Shake has been a longtime favorite at the Lounges. Now we’re excited to make the Samovar Sweet Matcha Shake Mix available through our online store.

To make a matcha shake:

Combine five ice cubes, one heaping tablespoon of Samovar Sweet Matcha Shake Mix, and eight ounces whole milk, soy milk, or almond milk. Blend or shake in a cocktail shaker. Pour into a chilled glass, straining out ice cubes. For a hot drink, steam or heat milk on stovetop, and stir in matcha mix.

 

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The Connoisseur’s Guide To Tasting Tea

Tea is just like life. A rich full life is sensory-infused, one complete with a rich blend of experiences. It is a journey that transports you through things, places, people and feelings and that leaves you with memories and the knowledge that you’ve grown and touched others.

Good tea is a rarity in the world today. Most tea out there is old, flat, dry, and flavor and aroma-less,  lacking any spirit or sensuality whatsoever. It’s why most people aren’t excited about tea. Good tea is different. It’s what gets me excited about doing what we do – because good tea is just so… good. In order to know good tea, you don’t need to know a thing. Just drink it and you’ll know. Good tea will take you on a sensual journey: sight, touch, smell, taste, and even feeling. Just drink.

Continue reading The Connoisseur’s Guide To Tasting Tea

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Experience Ecstasy—Right Now

Right now is where it’s at. And then now is gone. Tea is this sweet nectar that focuses us right-here-now, into this blossoming moment.

Can you see the most beautiful art in existence—your life?

Take a breath and feel it, the now. Swim in it. Milk it of everything it offers. Inhale it into every single cell because it is so sweet. And then gone. Forever.

Have you felt this ecstasy? When? Was it up high or down low. Floating through the clouds or sinking through the sea?

Ecstasy is bigger than you. It’s this mystical wave of overwhelming happiness, beyond the self. You connect to everything.

Many religions offer promises of bliss after death. That’s really great. Knowing that we will both die (fact) and that when we do, we’ll get blissful, overwhelming  happiness (hope). But we can touch that state right now (fact).

So why not touch it? Don’t wait around for death. Grab it. Yank this moment by the throat. Shut your damn computer. Turn off your freaking cell phone. Now!

Turn on the water and steep some leaves.

Smell. Taste. Touch. See. Listen. Can you feel the wet earth and warm sun that nourished these leaves? The hands that picked them? Absorb the warm, wakeful nectar flowing down your throat. Flare your nostrils and answer the aromas. What lingers in the caesura, the pause?  Are you here? Is it salty ocean breeze, damp honeyed forest, windy frozen prairie, or humid night jasmine? What…what…WHAT?!

Look around. And look inside. Stop. Now see it. Because now it’s gone.

Like on a moonwalk, you can floatingly step from this very moment to the next, and the next, and the next. Just don’t sip it. Gulp it. Inhale it. Wrench it empty of everything it has for you. Let the electric blast of now ignite your senses and turn-you-on. It’s free. It’s yours. It’s now. It’s ecstatic. So go make some tea.

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Tea with Graham Hill – Masala Chai, Nishi Sencha

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Knowledge is power, and Graham Hill channels knowledge into inspiration and action through the green news site TreeHugger.com. As a serial “designpreneur,” Graham shares about the challenges of entrepreneurship, and how to make a difference through your work.

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How To Identify Good Fear And Kill Bad Fear On Sight

There are two kinds of fear: good fear and bad fear.

Good fear is when the hairs stand up on the back of your neck. The kind of fear that tells you to cross the street for “some strange reason.” The kind of fear that gives you superhuman strength in dealing with sudden danger. The kind of fear that immediately threatens your physical survival and that prepares you for dealing in the short term.

That’s the good kind. It’s rooted in our animal instinct of pure and absolute protection of ourself and our clan. Good fear that we only want to experience a few times in life if possible.

Then there’s bad fear. The fear that creates the same kind of physical sensation you get from good fear: increased heart rate. Blood flow to the extremities. Rapid short breath. Bad fear is rooted in all the “What if blahblahblah happens?” What if? What if? What if? Bad fear keeps us on the treadmill of mediocrity. Bad fear keeps blood out of the brain, where we need it the most in order to make effective decisions.

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Just for Men: 10 Steps To Savoring Your Shave

There’s something delightful and dangerous about sliding a thin blade of cold steel across your face. And although it has the potential for instilling a truly rapturous experience for a man, today the act has been relegated to something merely mundane, sterile, and more of a nuisance. Yes, this simple act of shaving.

The act of shaving has been desecrated even in terms of names. The “Bic” razor?! Who wants to live a short, quick, and plastic life? A commodity just like a bic ball point pen, shaving has become mass market, quick and disconnected from the essence of manhood. “Mach III?!” Even worse. Go “mach 3,” rush and hurry up, so you can get through the chore? To what end? To rush to work? And then? To rush home for the weekend? Why go Mach 3, when you can go slow, steady, and live fully. Welcome to the art of “Wet Shaving.” Aka, Slow Shaving.

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Tea with Erica Sandberg: Samovar Breakfast Blend, Ancient Gold

Your money is your life, and good financial management is really, really important. Erica joins me for a pot of Earl Grey tea at Samovar where she speaks candidly on passion and money.

Note: this video is edited to 10 minutes, but you can listen to the full 40-minute audio interview on iTunes.

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Tea and the Art of Distraction – 4 Easy Steps

I’ve wrote earlier on the ritual preparing and drinking of tea can be used as a training ground for getting present. And that the more present and “awake” we are, the better things get. Whether it’s tea or anything else you can find to wake up, I believe that we need all the weapons available to fight distraction.

Whenever you’re doing something, anything, notice when the pull happens that nags on your attention.

 

Freedom and productivity arise by waking up to the pull of distraction. And let’s be honest, distraction is addictive because it feels good and pulls us away from the real  challenges we have in life. But distraction also keeps us from living fully, doing great things with our time, and making a real difference in the world.

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Tea with Jeff Mendelsohn: Ocean of Wisdom

“Green paper products” isn’t a contradiction of terms, especially where Jeff Mendelsohn is involved! As founder of New Leaf Paper, Jeff has been a visionary leader in the evolution of the green business community. We met over a pot of tea to discuss business as a force for good, the dirty side of the paper industry, and creating lasting change.

Note: this video is edited to 10 minutes, but you can listen to the full 40-minute audio interview on iTunes.

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How to Taste Tea the Samovar Way

One of the great things about tea is that it taps into something very basic, human, and elemental. Good tea stimulates all of the senses. All of them.

Perhaps tea is so profound because, let’s face it, everything boils down to sex. 

Sight, sound, smell, touch, taste. Tea is in fact very sensual. It touches our senses and allows us to experience them more fully. Tea as a training ground for sensory stimulation, we can take the experience to every little thing in life. Learn to let the senses flourish with tea, and they’ll be blooming in other areas too. Perhaps tea is so profound because, let’s face it, everything boils down to sex.

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Autumn Tea & Food Pairings

Autumn. The season of colorful leaves, crisp, cool air, and warming comfort foods. Here are some of our autumn picks for tea and food pairings:

Grapes
Chicken salad finger sandwiches with sliced grapes and Earl Grey
Fresh grapes with assorted cheeses, buttered toast and Samovar Breakfast Blend
Fresh grapes with white chocolate and Hawaii-Grown Oolong Tea

Heirloom Tomatoes
Plain and raw small, sweet varieties of heirloom tomatoes with Nishi First Flush Green Tea
Larger, chopped heirloom tomatoes in fresh salsa with corn and peppers (which are also being harvested in much of the U.S. around now) with a spicy, flavorful Southwestern-style meal and a pot of Russian Blend

Plums
Plum pastries (such as Danishes or tarts) with Bai Mudan White Tea
Plum-and-chile-preserves-topped, buttery, homemade biscuits with Ancient Gold
Sliced, fresh plums drizzled with fresh cream and served alongside Golden Phoenix Oolong

Potato
Homemade latkes (potato pancakes) with organic applesauce, sour cream and Samovar Russian Blend

Squash
Roasted spaghetti or butternut squash with Ocean of Wisdom

What are your favorite foods for autumn? How do you pair them with tea?

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Why Rituals Matter Part 1: My Daily Tea Ritual

It seems that as life has gotten faster and faster, we humans have managed pretty well to keep up with the speed. But I I believe Gandhi: “That there is more to life than increasing its speed.” In fact, I’d suffice to say that things get better by decreasing their speed. Slow is good.

Rituals slow us down and connect us to this moment here and now.

Enter rituals. Rituals slow us down and connect us to this moment here and now. I’m not talking about big, ornate cultural or religious  rituals. Instead I’m referring to simple actions that connect us to ourselves, our place, and the present moment.

These kind of rituals allow us to both forget ourselves and our worries, and to escape into the present moment. They allow us to enter flow – the state of being where we’re actually not thinking, not aware of any single thing other than the act of what we are doing.

Continue reading Why Rituals Matter Part 1: My Daily Tea Ritual

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Jobs, Slow Tea, and The Future of America

I believe that the purpose of life is to live a meaningful life. And considering that for most of our waking lives we work, our jobs are therefore quite influential on whether or not we are living with meaning.

A society without jobs is a society without meaning.

The biggest challenge I see with the current economy and the “job crisis” is that without jobs, we have a society without meaning. And legions of people without meaning is both sad and scary.

In terms of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, no jobs and no meaning stresses both the top of the pyramid, where people are looking to make a difference with their lives, and the bottom of the pyramid,where survival needs go challenged with food and shelter. The whole “needs” pyramid starts to get pretty wobbly.

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Tea with Jeff Riddle: Downy Sprout, Bai Hao Oolong

Because of his unique take on why and how to build relationships, I believe Jeff Riddle is soon to be a household name in business and social media.

In this episode Jeff and I sip some Downy Sprout at Samovar Sanchez and talk about why (and how) to build really deep relationships – for improved life, work, and even spirituality. After all, life is really just a series of relationships, those we’ve created, those we’re creating, and those we will create. A valuable life is one in which we leave in our wake countless positive relationships.

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Tea with Stephanie Bernstein: Wei Chi Cha, Masala Chai

Bamboo cutlery? Yep – it’s taking the country by storm actually, and Stephanie Bernstein and her company are leading the way. Stephanie takes time out from a busy life to chill and chat over a pot of Wei Chi Cha. Stephanie is doing great things, and creating a great company. Join us for tea as we go into the why, how, and what of her business.

Note: the video is edited down to 10 minutes, but you can listen to the full 45-minute audio interview on iTunes.

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Tea for Humankindness – 9/11 Commemmoration

In commemoration of 9/11,  on Sunday 9/11 all Samovar locations will be serving complimentary Ocean of Wisdom tea. Please join us for one hour of silence at our Tea Lounges or wherever you may be, for contemplation, reflection, and connection. During that hour there will be no music at the Tea Lounges. We request no or minimal speaking. Just joining together for some tea to reflect on humanity -ourselves and the world around us – the beauty of life, and the potential good that exists for everyone.

9/11, 2011 was a tragic day for the world. A day where deeper and more divisive lines were drawn and “us” and “them” became seemingly clearer. A day that spawned a new era of fear, anxiety, hatred and turmoil. The  irony is that as we elevate our fear, we close down to the world around us. As we close down, love, community, creativity, and meaning evaporate further. It becomes a never ending cycle of closing down. And finally we’ve got to ask – where is the Meaning if life becomes just about closing down, fearing, and fighting? The reality is that we really are all connected. And, we really have the same needs. We need food and shelter, friends and family. And we need to know our lives made a difference. Our actions are making a difference. So how do we go from fear and anger to love and making a difference? Really simple – we love. Ourself. Eachother. We give kindness and compassion. Period.

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How to Brew Green Ecstasy

Green Ecstasy green tea is a new Samovar classic. A creamy, brothy, caffeinated-chlorophyll hit of deliciousness. Matcha-infused first flush Asamushi sencha to impart joy in every sip.

To Brew this tea:

1) Use delicious (filtered or spring) water, a “side-handled” Japanese kyusu teapot, and a decanting pitcher.

2) Add 1– 2 tablespoons of tea leaves to your teapot and barely cover them with room temperature water. Steep
for 2 minutes and decant to the empty pitcher.

3) Add water to fill the kyusu teapot. The temperature should be 170 –175° or “very warm but not hot” to the touch.

4) Steep for only 10 seconds. Empty this infusion to the decanting pot, mixing it with the first infusion.

5) Re-steep the leaves 1–3 more times (depending on desired strength) for 10 seconds each time, adding the infusions to the decanting pot.

Sip from pre-warmed teacups and enjoy! Experiment brewing with different amounts of tea, water temperature, and brew time. For more brewing tips, check out the How To section of our blog.

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10 Ways to Blissful Emptiness

Only in emptiness can we be truly creative and imaginative.

Like an empty teacup or a blank sheet of paper, emptiness is unlimited potential. In emptiness, literally anything can happen.An idea, a scribble, a masterpiece, a to-do list, a mind map. It’s when clutter and noise and distraction fill us up that there is little room left for greatness. So if emptiness is so great, how come we don’t all achieve more of it? Because emptiness is really scary.

Ask any writer staring at a blank screen “how do you feel?” Writer’s block is total sweaty-palmed panic. An interesting analogy can be made between emptiness and the color white. White is not color. It is the absence of all color, ie “empty.”

The Japanese character for white is this:

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Tea with Dean Karnazes: Moorish Mint, Wuyi Oolong

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Dean runs a marathon every single day. Seriously. Then he comes home, makes breakfast for his kids, and then gets down to writing. He writes books about endurance, with the goal of inspiring others to do like him: live an actualized life. That is, live a life that you’re meant to live. We enjoy a pot of Moorish Mint (caffeine free, because Dean doesn’t need caffeine) and I am blown away at his passion and abilities. A marathon every single day?!

Note: the video is edited down to 10 minutes, but you can listen to the full 45 minute audio interview on iTunes.

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June 4, 2011

Sencha + Citrus. Kelpy and green notes of sencha blended with yuzu to impart sweet and spicy, dry, fruity, clean and juicy acid.

One can resist the invasion of an army, but one cannot resist the invasion of ideas.

– Victor Hugo

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Gratitude for Dad

Dad: the masculine force that brought you into this world. 

Take a moment right now to contemplate one positive childhood experience with your father. Was it building & launching model rockets? Going to the movies on a Saturday afternoon–and sneaking into a double feature? Flying a kite at the beach? His supportive shouts from the sidelines of a soccer game? A bed-time story? Helping you move into college on Day One? Is the memory a classic activity like fishing or football? Or is it cooking or shadowing him at work for a day?

We all have–or had–a father. Right now, for just one minute, think about a positive experience you had with him. Where was it? How old were you? Be specific. What did you hear, smell, feel? How did you see him then?

Now pick up the phone and call him. Share your memory, and share the gratitude you feel. If he’s no longer around, take one more minute and just give him some positive thoughts.

A Little Something More

Share some tea! In honor of Father’s Day, we’re offering 15% off your purchase for dad through 6/19/11 with coupon code “LuvDad” (all orders $30 or more).

Here are a few products we think your dad will love.

Samovar Tea Phone

Samovar Tea Phone

Today we’re announcing a new way to connect (with your dad or your friends). The Tea Phone pays homage to the old ways of communicating with a real handset. It’s super functional and simple and creates a totally different experience when talking on it.
Continue reading Gratitude for Dad

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June 2, 2011

The leaves of BaoZhong are bruised by being tossed in a bamboo basket or rolled with a large tarp. This process allows for the leaves to oxidize for a short period of time before being twisted and dried.

Always do what you are afraid to do.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

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June 1, 2011

Insects bite the ends of the Bai Hao leaf, allowing oxidation to occur before the leaves are plucked. This process accounts for Bai Hao's unique range of color and taste.

 

I don’t understand why people are frightened of new ideas.  I’m frightened of the old ones.

– John Cage

 

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Tea with Kevin Rose: Masala Chai, Samovar Breakfast Blend, Wuyi Oolong

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Fresh baked breakfast scones and strong black tea go great together, and Kevin and I enjoy them as we  chat about how he got started with social media site Digg.com. He’s not running Digg any longer, but he’s still going strong in his love for tea, and, well on his way with his newest tech startup.

Note: the video is edited down to 10 minutes, but you can listen to the full 48 minute audio interview on iTunes.

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May 31, 2011

Looking to replace coffee or that energy drink, our Sweet Yerba Mate is your answer. Feel energized and get in the zone with this South American delight.

Wherever there is a human being, there is an opportunity for a kindness.

– Seneca

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May 30, 2011

Often the forgotten tea category, pu-erhs are the richest in taste and fullest in body. Our Maiden's Ecstacy is a great way to enter the wonderful world of pu-erhs.

Success should be measured by the yardstick of happiness; by your ability to remain in peaceful harmony with cosmic laws.

– Paramahansa Yogananda