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Ask The Tea Master: Samovar vs Teavana

We are passionate about tea and committed to helping you find the best way to make tea a rewarding part of your life.

We often get questions about tea and we wanted to share the discussion with you so everyone can benefit. Here’s a question that came in this week from Doug in Tuscon, AZ about the difference between Samovar Tea Lounge tea and Teavana.

Subject: Samovar, Teavana, and other


Loving your website! I have been reading and learning more about tea (and coffee–go Blue Bottle). In Tucson we have an excellent Chinese Tea House and also a Teavana retail shop. However, I am curious about Samovar vs Teavana where equipment suggestions, tea ware available for purchase and the tea itself are concerned. They [Teavana] tout themselves as the ultimate in tea but in spite of finding their tea very satisfying I am not convinced that they are the true purveyors but rather a major chain doing quality work. Are you willing to speak to this? My wife and I are departing for a few days this weekend. Upon returning I will be spending more time on your site viewing the videos. Am considering the Ultimate Guide package/s. Have been reading Zen Habits for nearly a couple years now and have at least one of Leo’s books. We had a San Francisco trip planned in January that fell through. We will be making plans for a long-weekend visit as soon as we can. You are on the list of Must-See places.

Oh, also read 101 Cookbooks and Omnivore Books postings. Pitch Perfect Audio (Matt Rotunda) is one of my favorite audio shops and people in the US! I say this in hope that you understand my enthusiasm for the Bay Area and tea, as well as the sincerity of my question. It’s part of how I learn. You know, who to trust where the real information is concerned. Thanks for any help you can provide. Best, Doug (Douglas & Peggy, Tucson, AZ)

Dear Doug,

Thank you so much for taking the time to research us and to ask this great question. Tea has been growing like crazy in America, and as you can see in Tuscon, the number of options is growing quickly.

If there’s one thing I can say for certain about tea, it’s this: Tea is personal. We’ve got our opinions and perspectives, but I don’t assume they are right for everyone. Way to go for doing the research and making up your own mind on the subject.

On to your question: What makes Samovar Tea Lounge different from Teavana? For that matter, what makes Samovar different than David’s Tea, Numi Tea, Yogi Tea, and even Celestial Seasonings?!

Actually, we all share a lot, and a lot of these companies have been doing great work bringing tea to the masses. The passion and appreciation for tea is continuing to catch on, and we’re really proud to be part of such an inspired industry.

But we do have a unique perspective that sets us apart. When you boil it down, the difference lies in our business model. At Samovar Tea Lounge, we think of ourselves as the biggest little tea company in America. These other companies have prioritized moving hundreds of thousands (millions?) of boxes of tea, and that means making the product fit the biggest possible market. That leads to selling tea with big margins (aka cheap for them to buy) and then trying to make it “accessible” to the widest, and least discriminating palates which leads to spraying on artificial flavors (strawberry, vanilla, chocolate, pineapple, juicy frutti, creme, …). You can read more about: The Truth about Teavana, here, and here.

We take a different approach. Our goal is to make tea simple, to take out the hassle, and to weed through the thousands of teas and blends to bring your our short list of the very best handcrafted, whole-leaf teas you can find. Anywhere.

As a small company, we’ve had to embrace our constraints. That means we focus on what really matters: developing a small but loyal group of informed, appreciative, like-minded fans and giving them an enriching experience.

We don’t sell the cheapest tea out there. And that’s okay. People are still learning to appreciate the distinctions in quality in tea. But as they learn to appreciate small batch, artisan teas in the way that they’ve learned to appreciate the difference between a $10 bottle of wine and a $75 bottle, we’ll be here, ready and waiting.

Thanks again for the great question. I hope this answer helps!

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