For some, tea is an incredible alternative to alcohol. For others, it’s simply an enjoyable drink. The latter of those two types of tea-drinkers often find they also enjoy tea cocktails, a flavorful mix of tea and alcohol.
There are many ways tea and alcohol can be combined to form sophisticated, complex tea cocktails. The most common method is to simply blend tea, alcohol and a mixer. Somewhat more complex methods include making a tea-infused liqueur or a tea-infused simple syrup before building the beverage itself.
A fun, simple and colorful method of making tea cocktails is to whisk matcha into an alcoholic drink. For a Saint Patrick’s Day cocktail, a bright green color is desirable, so I decided to go with this last method in coming up with a tea cocktail recipe to share with you here. It’s easy, tasty, energizing and a lot healthier than a Red Bull and vodka or an artificially colored beer. Check it out: Continue reading St. Patrick’s Day Green Tea Cocktail
Green tea is currently one of the biggest trends in food today, loaded with antioxidants and other essential health benefits. Unlike coffee, it’s “gently stimulating,” allowing you to feel energized without feeling jittery. Ryokucha Green Tea from San Francisco’s Samovar Tea Lounge raises the bar for how a green tea should taste. One of their featured teas, it includes toasted brown rice imported from Japan. When infused with wok-fired green tea leaves, the result is a rich, earthy flavor that is irresistible when paired with sushi, other Japanese cuisine, or even a morning bagel. It’s made in-house at the Samovar Tea Lounge, which also sells and serves organic, fair trade tea and tea service. In addition, they also offer breakfast, brunch, lunch, high tea and dinner.
According to Samovar, Ryokucha is a converter, meant to convert non-tea drinkers into devoted followers, and it definitely delivers. As opposed to the overwhelming grass flavor of many green teas, the roasted brown rice provides a nutty flavor, making it a cut above the rest. As the St Patrick’s Day season approaches, celebrate with a tea in keeping with the theme and color of the holiday season.
This week, I’m all about dinner and a movie at Yerba Buena. I definitely watch what I eat. I like to know that careful attention is paid not only to where the food is sourced from but how it is prepared.
So, when the Yerba Buena location opened, my movie nights came back at the Metreon’s theater because most of the food at the Metreon is just too quick, too loud and too who knows what, when, where and how. I also enjoy a small jolt of caffeine if I am going to a movie at night.
A green tea is just right for me on those evenings. I don’t like to rush through my meal and absolutely love to sit and slack for a while after eating. It makes such a difference to be sitting in a movie after eating and continue the nourishing sensations of food tasting great on the tongue and feeling good in the belly and knowing it won’t disturb my sleep later on that evening.
Also, I have had the opportunity to experience Samovar, Yerba Buena during weekdays. It is so clear that there was a need for a space to be created where folks could step back, relax and enjoy each other’s company in the midst of the hustle and bustle that is downtown San Francisco. One day, I was attending a Caroline Myss conference and we only had one hour for lunch and a ten minute walk on either side but I knew that the Samovar oasis was what I needed. As is with the other locations, the staff took great care of us and it was a busy day and the weather was amazing so we sat outside.
So, if you’re looking for healthy choices, a relaxing atmosphere at lunch, take a few extra minutes for yourself. It will help your office mates for you to come back from lunch more relaxed and rejuvenated too. But more important if you’re looking for a great place to have dinner and then head over to a movie, Samovar Yerba Buena is the spot. Take your friends/family – tell your friends/family.
By Jane Meredith Adams, Special to the Tribune
Published January 8, 2007
SAN FRANCISCO — In a city saturated with coffeehouses, a state awash in lattes and a nation deeply in love with a cup of joe, they have come for tea. With their heads bent over stainless steel tins of leaves at the Lupicia Fresh Tea boutique here, they sniff chocolate mint black and inhale blueberry-raspberry green. They come for tea because of beneficial flavonoids, exotic flavors and the elegance of an Asian ceramic teapot. They are top-of-the-line tea drinkers, and in a Starbucks world, their numbers are increasing.
A coffee man in the morning, accountant Roy Wong wants nothing but green tea in the afternoon, and when it comes to green tea, he wants nothing but the best. Hence his pilgrimage to the Japanese-owned Lupicia, which offers 200 varieties of black, green, oolong and white teas.
“I’ve read that green tea helps prevent Alzheimer’s and helps with digestion, so why not?” Wong said.
Tea in America once meant a bag of Lipton floating in a cup. Green tea was a fringe product and white tea unheard of. All of this has changed, including the shape of the lowly tea bag, as U.S. tea sales are expected to grow to $10 billion by 2010 from $6 billion in 2005, according to the World Tea Expo, a trade show.
Driven by reports that tea has less caffeine than coffee, is loaded with antioxidants and may even help prevent tooth decay and Alzheimer’s disease, Americans are guzzling ever-increasing quantities of chilled, bottled tea. Premium loose-leaf teas also are surging in popularity, packaged in bulk or in silken, oversized tea pouches, which enable the leaves to unfurl.
Nationally, the number of tea cafes has boomed to 2,000 from 200 in the past decade, according to the Tea Association of the USA. California has the most, with the coffee-loving Midwest trailing. “The Midwest has always been a laggard when it comes to tea consumption,” said Joe Simrany, president of the Tea Association of the USA.
The TeaGuide, which maintains a list of tearooms worldwide in conjunction with the Cat-Tea Corner Web site, catteacorner.com, reports that there are 33 tea cafes in Chicago and 18 in the suburbs.
What’s in your tea bag
Just as wine, coffee and chocolate transformed from foodstuffs into gourmet pursuits, tea drinking has become a province of connoisseurs. Education is at the core of the transformation. The idea is that once
you’ve tasted high-end single-estate-grown Assam black tea, that cup of Tetley won’t be as appealing.
Take this bit of education from Kalvin Louis, co-owner of the Samovar Tea Lounge, a San Francisco Asian-themed food and tea salon. Traditional tea bags, Louis said, contain nothing more than discarded tea leftovers known as fannings, dust, soot or shake. As tea is processed, whole leaves are shaken in a mesh basket. What falls through is bagged.
“They color it and flavor it,” said Louis disdainfully as he sipped a cup of Ancient Tree hand-picked green tea.
The tea experience comes in two forms. In sync with the pace of American culture are bottled chilled teas, tea smoothies, sparkling tea mixed with fruit juice and bubble tea drinks–a Taiwanese specialty characterized by pearls of gummy tapioca at the bottom of the cup that are sucked up through a wide straw.
On the hot side, loose-leaf sellers such as L’Amyx Tea Bar in Oakland are selling the idea that pausing to steep a pot of tea is a calming respite from a hectic world. To this end, L’Amyx doesn’t sell take-out cups of tea.
But do Americans want to slow down?
“It’s an uphill battle with American culture,” said Marcia Lam, chief financial officer at L’Amyx, as she stood behind the bar, pouring tea made from delicate white buds. Just as yoga and spas have emerged as a way to find balance, so too has tea, she said.
Making the switch
In Chicago, even the pressure of law school can’t make Chrystina Zelaskiewicz, 26, drink a cup of coffee. On winter nights, she favors Fruit Blast herbal tea at Argo Tea on Rush Street.
“It’s hot, it tastes good and it doesn’t have caffeine,” she said. Herbal teas aren’t technically teas because they aren’t from the Camellia plant that is the source of all teas, but they’re steeped like tea and also are growing in popularity.
“I like the flavored teas,” said Chicago medical school student Bonnie Hoel, 25, who recently sipped a cup of Ginger Peach black at Argo Tea. When she’s at home, she’s partial to the milky cinnamon sweetness of chai black, which she pairs with homemade banana chocolate chip bread. She’s also acquired a taste for green tea. “It’s a little bitter, but I’ve heard about the health benefits of it,” she said.
Behind most tea drinkers is a conversion experience–the day they put down their java and picked up some oolong.
“I just realized how much better I felt when I drank tea,” said Dominic Martello, 55, a waiter who once drank four or five cups of coffee a day. “It’s easier on the stomach,” he said, sipping Jasmine Pearl green tea. Just as relaxing as drinking tea: the slow-paced tea house ambiance, he said.
“It’s a place to think about what I want to think about.”
Except sometimes. Like the time you told your boyfriend’s mom aboutyour penchant for prescription pills. Or when you hit on your boss at theholiday party.
But it was the night you publicly peed on yourself that really caused a stir.
In your case, you’d best hightail it to Samovar Tea Lounge for some mood-boosting, booze-free libations.
Owner Jesse Jacobs promises a warm, happy glow afteran hour or so of sipping and yapping over fine artisanal
teas at the new Tuesday tastings. And he won’t turn his nose up when you can’t tell the difference betweenOolong and green.
What he will do is introduce you to the mind-expandingworld of tea varietals (Maiden’s Ecstasy Pu-erh,anyone?). The experience includes an informative doseof Tea 101 along with the tea tender’s choice of threedifferent teas, selected for their uniqueness, taste, and
seasonality — all for just ten dollars.
And to keep the good feeling flowing, Samovar’s tea comes from small family farms across the world. Sorelax, drink, and be merry.
Just not too merry.
Samovar Tea Lounge, 498 Sanchez Street, at 18th Street (415-626-4700 or samovartea.com); Tuesday tea tastings are by appointment only.
When Erick isn’t helping lead the staff at Samovar, he’s working out. A fitness freak, being healthy is important to him. Erick is actually 45 years old (not really…). What’s his secret? Vinyasa yoga with Les as Yoga Tree. Lots of it.
Erick has a passion for simplicity, communication, Japanese green teas, yoga and meditation retreats, tasting and analyzing tea, and he’s generally good at almost anything that involves movement. He loves doing tea tastings, and balancing three pots of tea simultaneously on his forearms on busy days.
One of the many of his favorite teas include the Wuyi Oolong.
“It’s relaxing and uplifting, and helps me get ready for a busy day because it’s very adaptable,” he says. It can be strong or light– easy to brew intense and roasty, or light and sweet.
On his free time, or when he has some free time, Erick loves to read books on leadership, mindfulness, and communication. On cold days, he loves listening to Krishna Das, while reading “The Mindful Leader,” and enjoying a cup of Ryokucha.
“Ryokucha is the best breakfast tea. It is full bodied, has a little caffeine from the green tea, but has an amazing grassiness from the organic matcha that we blend it in. The roasted brown rice kernels make it a little sweet. I love this tea paired with a salmon maki bowl.”
Part I of Jesse’s Visit with Bay Area tea luminary and author of the famed “Tea Lover’s Treasury,” James Norwood Pratt. Norwood Pratt takes time to brew Lu Shan Chinese green tea and chat about tea’s history.
– Brewing tea at Norwood Pratt’s house
– Lu Shan, “Cloud and Mist” tea and what makes it special
– Buddhism and tea: an intertwined history
– Chinese shade grown tea, in a sea of “clouds and mist” makes an artisan tea
– The nature of reality, and drinking delicious tea
– Crafting your enlightenment poem…
Creamy, full bodied, matcha infused, malty, smooth & sweet, and with a mildly grassy finish. That’s Ryokucha, our special house-blended staple, and the ingredients are fresh from Japan.
This tea has a very complex taste, but a very simple effect: It feels good!
Ryokucha green tea is so popular because it’s easy to brew, tastes so pleasing, and is perfect for drinking all day long. Like a meal for breakfast, a pick-me-up midday, and a cozy soother for the evening, this tea has been a staff and customer favorite since we opened.
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.
Jade, 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 it 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.
Our collection of Samovar Green Teas has been curated for balance and flavor, dedicated to the craft of tea.
If you are looking for incredible value on Samovar Green Tea we have a number of deals on our Tea Shop Sale page.