Our tea gurus (aka servers) often receive the question, “Which tea should I drink for this time of day?”
The easy answer is, “Whatever tea inspires you.” But if you’d like a little more guidance, here are a few pointers:
Our tea gurus (aka servers) often receive the question, “Which tea should I drink for this time of day?”
The easy answer is, “Whatever tea inspires you.” But if you’d like a little more guidance, here are a few pointers:
Today I’m savoring our Monkey Picked Iron Goddess of Mercy Oolong. A clean, robust infusion with woodsy high notes and deep baked apple undertones. As our description for this tea says: “Sip. Penetrate your issues. Dissolve them.” This is the way of tea and the way of business for us at Samovar Tea Lounge.
It’s easy to see tea as a simple commodity; a utilitarian item you keep on hand for occasional enjoyment and/or health benefits. It’s so easy to forget what went into giving you the perfect cup of tea that you may be sipping even this moment:
The soil, water, and air that nourish the tea plants and help them to put forth fresh buds each season.
The farmers, who work so diligently to grow the tea plants and to coax out the leaves’ full potential for flavor and aroma.
The servers at the Tea Lounges who share their passion for tea every day.
Samovar Tea Lounge is proud to partner with The Long Now Foundation to source a rare pu-erh tea for the foundation’s future Salon, for which they are raising support.
The Long Now Foundation was established in 01996 to to creatively foster long-term thinking and responsibility in the framework of the next 10,000 years. They are championing the Clock and Library projects, to provide a counterpoint to today’s accelerating culture and help make long-term thinking more common.
Jesse Jacobs, founder of Samovar Tea Lounge, was interviewed by The American City Business Journals for the feature From Beginners to Bigshots:
By Nathalie Pierpont
Beginners to Bigshots featured Jesse Jacobs and Samovar Tea Lounge in the 2004 edition. Here we catch up on what has happened with the business since then.
With three locations in San Francisco and a growing presence online, Samovar Tea Lounge, founded in 2001, is poised to deliver peaceful living to the masses.
“Our whole focus is on how do we help our customers and people in general get more of what they need, which is often slowing down, focus, calm, reduced stress. We end up really promoting a lifestyle choice,” said Samovar founder Jesse Jacobs.
Customers are soaking up the Samovar lifestyle, indeed. The company’s revenue has jumped to north of $4 million today from $2.3 million in 2008. Even more impressive is that since receiving a $160,000 loan through the Small Business Administration and counseling, training and technical assistance from a local Small Business Development Center in its early days, Samovar’s growth has been organic.
Mary McCue, president and CEO of MJM Management Group, a designer and manager of public spaces in San Francisco, and a regular to the Mission-Castro location, “begged” Jacobs to open a lounge in Yerba Buena Gardens in 2006.
“I wanted tea to be served in on our terrace, and I knew Samovar would do something that would be distinctive to the Gardens,” said McCue. “I was also impressed with Samovar’s commitment to excellence. Most importantly, they are experts at tea service from countries all around the world.”
Once Samovar agreed to open the second location, MJM Management did what it could to help. “As a small company, we didn’t have deep pockets, and they helped make it a viable next step,” said Jacobs. Samovar opened a third teahouse in Hayes Valley a few years later under similar circumstances. Jacobs plans to expand to other cities with the “right partners.”
“Developers and landlords have come to realize that we have a solid business, a solid brand and proven operations, and they see it as a great opportunity to increase the value of their property,” said Jacobs, who attributes his company’s growth to a focus on the customer experience.
Although Samovar still derives most of its revenue from the tea lounges, it is keen to deepen its relationship with customers online. Its website includes a tea emporium for wholesalers and individuals as well as informational posts about different teas and educational videos about the benefits of tea culture. Jacobs’ recent webinar about meditation and the ritual of tea drinking drew 1,500 participants around the world.
“It was a way to reach the entire world with a message about who we are, what we do, and how it can help,” said Jacobs.
Building the Samovar brand on- and offline is part of what differentiates it from Amazon and Starbucks, according to Jacobs. Samovar charges between $5 and $6 for a pot of chai tea — “more than anyone else in the world.” said Jacobs. “And people come back again and again and happily pay for it.”
Nathalie Pierrepont is a freelance writer in San Francisco.
If we were stranded on a desert island and could choose only tea brewing utensil, we’d choose the Samovar Cloud Gaiwan. It’s beautiful, simple, and makes great tea.
The Chinese gaiwan, or “covered bowl,” is one of the oldest brewing devices around. It concentrates the infusion, allowing you to re-infuse the same leaves over and over. Sip straight from the cup or decant into a separate cup, and you’ll enjoy stronger aromas, more full bodied taste, and a beautiful view of the leaves unfurling.
Pu-erh is the wine of the tea world: earthy, strong, and complex. Infuse the same tea leaves again and again to emit dark flavors of cedar forests, tobacco, bittersweet chocolate, and espresso. An epicurean experience favored by coffee drinkers and wine connoisseurs.
Participants in the 3-day tour will get to meet the community of dedicated tea artisans in Hawaii, and:
Below are some photos of tea farmers Eva and Chiu, during one of Jesse’s tea trips to Hawaii:
Eat tea. Yes, that’s right. We love eating tea, when it comes to matcha that is. Matcha is the only tea we actually eat.
The finely milled powder from shade grown organic Japanese green tea whips up into a creamy delicious froth. And the effect? We describe it as somewhere between wheatgrass and and espresso. Caffeinated and robust, yet fresh and vegetal. Perfect for sleepy mornings or whenever you could use a boost of inspiration.
Creating Something Special
Customers thank us every day for the peace that Samovar Tea Lounge brings them. We are so grateful to be doing what we do.
But when I step back to survey the magic that happens at Samovar, I realize the real superhero is you.
You are the one who took time to meet with an old friend. You are the one set aside work to savor a dish of smoked duck and poached eggs. You are the one who chose to reach out to an estranged family member and reconnect over a pot of tea.
All we do is offer a space for the alchemy to take place.
Check out our new video showing how we can help you create a magical moment for your next celebration:
When the weather warms up, it’s a great time to chill your teas down. Did you know there’s more than one way to make chilled tea? The most common technique is to brew tea with hot water, then pour it over ice or refrigerate it. But you can also brew tea with cold water, which extracts more sweetness and yields a smoother body.
Cold-brewed Pineapple Coconut Oolong is our favorite warm weather refreshment. With a creamy flavor, heady tropical aroma, and natural sweetness, it goes down easy on those scorcher days.
Here’s how to cold-brew tea:
Sometimes when I’m at the Tea Lounges and have a moment to myself, I like to sit at a remote corner table and pretend to be a customer. Then I just observe. I never tire of watching haggard, stressed out people plop themselves down, then slowly transform as they experience our warming teas and nourishing food. Watching their eyes get clearer and suddenly seeing – actually seeing – the person sitting across the table from them, and connecting with them for one quiet moment.
I also count how many people are twiddling away on their phones while eating, barely tasting their food or talking to their companions. I’m not against technology at all—I have as much tech as the next guy in San Francisco. The tools of today allow us this unprecedented ability to create movements and organizations and companies, and art. Continue reading Hugging a Lion: How to Embrace Technology Without Getting Eaten Alive
As you explore the world of tea, you’ll come to a point where you want something more. Something more exotic. Something that surprises. Something so delicious that your worries melt away leaving you squarely in the present moment, a cup in your hand and a smile playing on your lips.
That’s when it’s time to brew some Samovar Gyokuro—the fine wine of Japanese green tea.
Unlike most teas, Gyokuro is grown in the shade under straw mats for about 20 days prior to harvest. This stresses the plant and as it struggles to draw energy from the sun the chemistry of the leaves change. The result is higher levels of L-Theanine, responsible for increased mental clarity and focus, and a clear resonating note of the most unique of all flavors: umami.
If you are familiar with our standard brewing instructions (steeping one to two tbs. of tea in boiling water for 15-60 seconds) you’ll have to set them aside. They won’t help you here. Gyokuro has special leaves that you need to treat with extra gentle, loving care.
Watch Episode 9 from The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide To Tea, where Leo and I share a Gyokuro brewing and tasting session:
Two of the most common questions we hear are “What is the best way to brew my tea?” and “How should I taste tea to get the most out of it?” The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide To Tea video series covers these and a number of other topics: how to judge tea quality, what tea is, information on all tea varieties, and more.
Engage all your senses as you learn the art and practice of tasting tea. Enter your email and we’ll send you details to unlock this episode, for FREE.
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So where are we headed now?
Joshua Jacobs, who works on Special Ops for us at Samovar Tea Lounge, has been a key collaborator for the last 12 months, and he has some interesting ideas on this subject. Rather than speak for him, I invited him to write a guest post here and share his perspective.
Recognize the last name? Yup, he’s my brother. But don’t think that means I’ve been easy on him—I’ve already fired him three times…
Best practices only make sense within a particular context. Applied in the wrong context, they’ll produce horrid results. The best practices at Google bear almost no resemblance to the best practices at a 3-person app development shop. Change the context and the governing rules also change, making all “best practices” worthless unless they are tailored to the situation.
And the consequences are huge. It’s why the Luddites could not stop the industrialization of their craft. It’s why telephone operators were replaced by Cisco routers. It’s why Borders and Blockbuster went bankrupt.
The Ages of our civilization don’t end; they evolve. First slowly and with incredible resistance, and then faster and faster until the cycle is complete.
The fact is, the Information Age has already evolved into a new era. How do I know? By looking at the results.
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)
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.
We live in a culture that denies fear. I guess that’s not surprising considering how uncomfortable cold, raw fear is. But it’s a disservice because if there’s one thing I know for sure it’s that you cannot run from fear, and you definitely cannot hide.
Before Samovar Tea Lounge, I had a “killer” job in high-tech. My fear then was that I would never leave. Golden handcuffs bound me 10 hours a day to a life that was compromised. Uninspired. After I finally drew the courage to change and started Samovar, customers would walk in asking for coffee, or if we were a Chinese restaurant—and leave me haunted by visions of it all coming crashing down.
Nothing sets tone and atmosphere like music. It bypasses conscious thought and resonates at a deep, primordial level. So when you brew a pot of tea for yourself, or your friends, what do you put on?
A recent conversation on our Facebook Page turned up some recommendations that we need to followup on—and that we thought you might enjoy.
Have you heard our very own audio soundtrack, ONE: Tea Lounge Groove? Join the Samovar Tea Lounge community and we’ll send you links to three of our favorite tracks.
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Try a flight of three top-quality pu-erhs at the Mission-Castro and Hayes/Hayes Valley Tea Lounges! This tea flight is a great opportunity to experience the complexities that make each tea uniquely delicious. And then there’s the chocolate.
Pu-erh Tea is the class of tea that is aged to perfection. It 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. 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.
There are two types of Pu-erh: Raw (or sheng) Pu-erh and Ripe (or shou) Pu-erh; 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. Sheng Pu-erhs are aged naturally over time; Shou Pu-erhs are ripened using a modern, intentionally accelerated aging process.
Tea is about slowing down and becoming more present. Tea is about paying attention to the little things because in the end, that’s all there is.
Engage all your senses as you learn the art and practice of tasting tea.
Jesse Jacobs, founder of Samovar Tea Lounge, shares about Samovar’s mission and vision in this video interview by Life & Thyme.
Continue reading A Look Into Samovar Tea Lounge by Life & Thyme
In this video Jesse Jacobs, founder of Samovar Tea Lounge, talks about tea and entrepreneurship with Jonathan Fields, host of The Good Life Project.
Tim Ferriss and Jesse Jacobs, founder of Samovar Tea Lounge, chat about tea, cooking, and how to become a world-class learner.
Searching for uniquely delicious tea-cocktails, I’ve tasted a lot of brews. Each tea adds distinct flavor and character. I love infusing our Jasmine Green for a floral burst and Earl Grey for citrus brightness. But my hands-down holiday favorite is a cold-brew infusion of vodka and our California Persian Black Tea. This magical combination of baby wild roses, citrusy bergamot and orange, and savory cardamom pods produces an amazing vodka tonic drink.
We call this drink “The Rosy Persian” and we brew it by the gallon for private events and parties.
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If you own a pair of shoes, sneakers, or sandals you probably know about Zappos.com. Or, if you read the great book Delivering Happiness, then you also know Zappos.com. In this episode I meet with Tony Hsieh, CEO of this amazing company that offers so much more than just shoes. We aren’t at Samovar in this episode, so there’s no tea. However, if we were drinking tea, I would have brewed Blood Orange Puerh for Tony, and Jasmine Pearl for me. Tony is a really inspiring guy, so listen to his insights on what makes Zappos so special, and what it means to be happy at work, and in life.
Note: the video is edited down to 10 minutes, but you can listen to the full 30 minute audio interview on iTunes. Continue reading Tea with Tony Hsieh: Jasmine Pearl, Blood Orange Puerh
Every night people all around the world send texts in their sleep.
Our society is delicately balanced on the brink of incredible change. Some people call it the Age of Aquarius. Others point to the end of the Mayan calendar and the predictions about the end of the World.
What I see is the proliferation of the most powerful tools humankind has ever known.
Remote control cars on Mars, MakerBots, video chat, communication networks so powerful they topple dictators. The list goes on.
Which brings us back to sleep texting.
I believe that we are in real danger of becoming slaves to our technology.
In the beginning, it’s awesome to be connected all the time. It’s really wonderful to have access to up-to-the-minute news feeds from your best friends and trusted sources. We are a social animal and knowing what your friends are up to all the time get’s at our need for closeness. The tools we have built are more than fun. They are a revelation with a power and capacity beyond our ancestors wildest dreams.
But at a certain point, the balance tips, and the machines are in control.
I’ll admit that sleep texting is (for now) pretty uncommon. But information addiction is a reality. How many times do you set your phone beside your plate when you sit down to eat? How often are you texting when your kids are asking you a question? How often have you been out with friends and you look up from your drink only to see you friends fingering their phones?
I believe in a future where humanity is in control, and where our skills, talents, and tools can create an abundance for everyone.
I know there are other organizations, like Samovar Tea Lounge, dedicated to helping people live more healthy, meaningful lives and so I want to make a contribution to their projects.
Before you tell me I’m a hypocrite for using Facebook for this, let me clarify. I love technology. The bounty that we have created through imagination, courage, and hard work is astounding. I just hope we develop the awareness and discipline to use these tools wisely.
I’m not going to repeat the details of John McAfee’s fall from $100 million tech superstar to Belizean fugitive for murder. You can get the backstory easily enough if you need it.
Suffice it to say that money does not buy happiness.
My friend and blogger Leo Babauta has been challenging readers to Buy Nothing Until 2013, and it got me thinking. What is the most precious we can give anyone?
Hint: It’s not shiny and it doesn’t last for ever.
It’s our attention.
Everyday at our Lounges we see the joy that people experience sitting down with friends and loved ones to be nourished by our healthy food and energizing teas. We see artists and writers disconnected from WiFi and fully immersed in their process. We see business leaders breaking the ice over a cup of Oolong and getting fired up about their next initiative. We see families delighted as they try something new.
But when they leave the Lounges, I start to worry. The “call of the smart phone” is a sweet siren song indeed.
I’ve heard cellphones ring–and get answered–in the middle of an executive meeting. I’ve seen parents ignoring their kids in order to send one more text. I’ve heard of people answer their phone during sex.
I’m guilty of a lot of this myself–though, not the sex example.
So here’s my challenge to you, in 3 steps.
We speed up to get everything done before we take a vacation. We shop like crazy to buy all the gifts we’ll need. Then we speed around to see everyone we’ve been missing. You get the idea.
So take your holiday to-do list and event calendar, cut it in half, and then cut it in half again. Then fully immerse yourself with what you really want to do with your time.
Wealth is not about how much you’ve acquired, but how much you share. There are plenty of causes that could use your support. If not financial, then maybe you can donate an old computer, pair of shoes, or perhaps your time. And don’t just do it for the cause, do it for yourself. Because giving feels good.
For one whole day, I challenge you to shut down all your devices with a screen. TV, laptop, tablet, phone. Everything. 24 hours.
Are you too important to be offline completely for a single day at a time when practically everyone is on vacation?
I know we’ve grown accustomed to these handy devices, but I also know that you guys are incredibly smart, motivated, disciplined and creative. If you choose too, I know that you’ll find a way to disconnect–in order to give yourself fully to the people you care about.
I want to thank you again for being the inspiration that keeps Samovar Tea Lounge alive. Whatever this new age brings, I’m proud to enter into it with you by my side.
You guys rock.
Jesse Jacobs, Founder
Samovar Tea Lounge(tm)
Samovar Tea Lounge has always been a walk-in establishment, but after getting a lot of great feedback from our customer survey, we’re now taking reservations during select hours!
You now have two options for reserving a table:
1) Call the Tea Lounges to place your reservation
2) Reserve your table through OpenTable.com
Visit the individual Tea Lounge pages for more info.
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Meet best selling author and Integrative Health leader Dr. Andrew Weil, and tech entrepreneur Kevin Rose and take time for tea with these two accomplished and inspiring guys. We talk about why tea is healthy for the mind, body and spirit, what kinds of rituals work for being healthy and “getting things done,” and why tea is all the rage in the tech community.
Friend of Samovar, and best selling author of The 4-Hour Work Week and The 4-Hour Body,Tim Ferriss has completed his most recent work The 4-Hour Chef.
We are delighted to be the exclusive place to buy The 4-Hour Chef in San Francisco. Not only are the only place where you can pick up a copy, when you do, you’ll get a signed copy of the book.
We got an advance look at The 4-Hour Chef, where founder Jesse Jacobs makes a few notable appearances, and we love what we saw. Continue reading Signed Copies of The 4-Hour Chef Available Only At Samovar Tea Lounge
Chai simply means “tea” in Hindi, and masala chai means “spiced tea”. Popular in India, where street vendors are kept busy serving up cups of masala chai all day long, this 5,000+ year old drink originated as an Ayurvedic tonic. Ginger to remove toxins, cinnamon to aid digestion, cardamom to improve circulation, and much more.
At Samovar Tea Lounge, we slow-cook our chai on the stove in the traditional manner, combining it with whole milk and substituting coconut palm nectar (lower-glycemic) for cane sugar. Making chai takes a few more minutes than steeping a regular cup of tea, but your efforts will be rewarded. Continue reading How to Make Masala Chai
Elections have a way of making us feel divided. With so much emphasis on our differences, we lose sight of what we share.
The truth is that we are all deeply connected. This is not an abstract idea, but a fact of life. I saw it with blinding clarity the moment I first held my son, so small, so vulnerable, so perfect. Then I imagined my father holding me, and his father before him.
The continuous chain of life is so obvious when you take the time to look.
Why do we spend so much energy defining our differences? When you boil it down we all have the same human needs: food, shelter, warmth, love.
This election, I’m voting for positive human connection; not just in those times when I’m sharing a pot of tea with people I love, but also during those inevitable situations when I’m dealing with people and we don’t see eye to eye.
Here’s a simple practice for developing positive human connection–even when it’s hard. Continue reading Vote for Positive Human Connection
In most cases, brewing the perfect cup of tea is as simple as adding boiling water to a couple tablespoons of tea and steeping for 15-45 seconds. While Russian tea needs a little more finesse, we’ve distilled the process to the essentials and the result is a superb black tea recipe that will dramatically improve your tea brewing vocabulary. Continue reading 5 Steps to the Ultimate Russian Tea
Virtually everyone you know uses craigslist.org. Now you can meet the maker: Craig! Nocturnal Bliss is our tea of choice for this episode in which Craig discusses how he got started, and what he’s up to with craigslist.
Note: this video is edited to 10 minutes, but you can listen to the full 25-minute audio interview on iTunes.