Oolong tea can be dangerous. Lilies explode in full bloom… Autumn leaves fall in the woods… Tree-ripened peach juice drips down your chin… The aromas and flavors weave together in beguiling combination. An experience with oolong lingers in your memory like a lover’s kiss.
In the hands of artisans-of-the-leaf, oolong will spoil you thoroughly. Thousand year-old tea cultivars grown in the cliffs of Southern China and Taiwan develop character that can only come from facing challenges and overcoming.
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.
Many of you see me, Les Leventhal, at Samovar (the 18th & Sanchez location) on Saturday afternoons eating the amazing food and drinking tea but do you really know what I’m doing there?????
Over two years ago, I started teaching an 11am class and this class ends my “work” week. So, I come to Samovar to transition my spirit and soul from one freedom to another.
The staff at Samovar is amazing. No matter how busy it is (and it’s busy all the time now), they are always so friendly and helpful and I really get that my comfort and experience there is of great concern to them. I really feel at home there.
Some weeks I like to make my transitions with a hot cup of chai and other times I enjoy the many soakings of an Oolong. Wuyi is my favorite (yes, I need more hot water when they ask).
There was a time when I would go alone to decompress and enjoy a meal that not only nourishes my belly but soothes my soul. With this cold weather have you tried the Pumpkin Miso Soup? If I know there’s dinner plans for later on that Saturday evening, I usually go for one of the salads – my favorite – Portobello Mushroom Salad (did you know you can get a side order of extra veggies if you’re very hungry?).
Now, every Saturday, for the past year or so, I’m there with friends and family. We love to sit outside (weather permitting) and many times the original group that sat down grows from friends walking by that decide to sit for some tea. So, all of a sudden there’s this community around tea. I wasn’t really looking for it. Like I said I was decompressing from the week but now, I so look forward to that part of my week, every week. It’s become a place to catch up, slow down, and reconnect with myself and others.
Some Saturdays, I want to stay slow and go for the non-caffeinated teas. The Shizandra is ridiculously delicious and the iced Aloe is almost like having a dessert, which is similar to a lot of the conversation that takes place. Everyone gets so busy these days, that slowing down for a pot of tea provides enough time to go beyond the usual quick hi how are you. You can actually engage a conversation and allow it to go in the many different directions that conversations can go when friends choose to sit down together and spend some good quality time. Samovar really provides the space and the right blend of food choices and the right teas for this to occur.
Wondering what’s on my tea shelf at home? I had to go check because I forgot a few: Organic Wuyi Dark Roast, Organic Orange Ginger, Organic Earl Red, Chillout Blend, Peppermint Lavender, Organic Jasmine Pearl, Kemmum, Samovar Russian Blend, Lychee Black, Wei Chi Cha (which one day I am going to make ice pops out of), Ocean of Wisdom, Blood Orange Puerh and Samovar Masala Chai (which I’ve tried numerous times to replicate what they do even with their “secret ingredients” and I just can’t figure it out).
There’s really just one thing missing for me and that’s Chai-scream. I figure I’d start a bitty campaign here and you never know – it’s Samovar – anything is possible.
So come stop by on a Saturday afternoon, say hi, talk tea, talk about anything you’d like – the conversations always stretch far far out into the universe about all things we know and don’t know but ponder.