The New York Times Dining and Wine Section features Samovar among the colorful and diverse San Francisco Bay Area teahouses.
Teahouses’ Unique Blends Are Not Just in the Cup
By GREGORY DICUM
Published: January 1, 2010
“…Samovar, in the Castro, makes tea drinking a stylish affair. Teas from around the world are served as they are in their home countries: Japanese maki bowls of rice and seaweed with ryokucha brown rice tea, English tea service with scones and Devonshire cream, Chinese tea with dumplings, and masala chai with curry. Russian tea is poured from a gleaming samovar.
‘We bring the world’s tea traditions under one roof,” said Jesse Jacobs, who opened Samovar in 2001. “It’s contemporary and hip but also respecting tradition.’
…Though many occupy spaces that used to be coffeehouses, it’s too early to call tea drinking a trend that will replace espresso anytime soon. Instead, it’s a parallel, calmer universe.
When people double-park outside Samovar and run in for a cup to go, the way many are accustomed to grab lattes with one nervous eye out for a parking ticket, ‘we give them a free chai sample,’ Mr. Jacobs said, ‘and they go park and come back.’
‘That’s the philosophy of tea,’ he said. ‘It’s about stopping for one moment and taking assessment of your surroundings.’
The original Samovar was so distinctive and enjoyable that the city invited Mr. Jacobs to open a branch in Yerba Buena Gardens to replace a Starbucks in 2006, and the San Francisco Zen Center asked him this year to open a teahouse in a space it owns across the street.”
Jesse Cutler, Samovar: (415) 655-3431 / [email protected]