Posted on

Tea Leaves and Aprons: it’s all in the detail

A server prepares a cup of chai

Tea Leaves

The size of every tea leaf matters. Leaves that are consistent in size, shape, and color mean that the cup of tea will be complex and consistent. The leaves will steep evenly, delivering a brew that has a unique aroma, body, taste and aftertaste. And it’s much more work to grow and select and process leaves that entirely the same throughout. It takes a lot more work to choose only those leaves that are the same. It requires more attention to each leaf. And the results are noticeable. It’s why our tea is so good, so full of complexity and nuance and awesomeness. Look at our leaves and you’ll notice that the English Breakfast Black tea is uniform throughout, and entirely different than our Green Ecstasy. Our farmers pay attention to every leaf they pick, ensuring this consistency stays true. Continue reading Tea Leaves and Aprons: it’s all in the detail

Posted on

Tea Mind

©2009 Jennifer Leigh Sauer

I just finished reading the book The Republic of Tea: Letters to a Young Zentrepreneur, by the company’s original founders, Will Rosenzweig and Mel & Patricial Ziegler.  In a series of whimsical faxes exchanged during the early 1990s between Mel (as mentor) and Will (as mentee), Mel describes not only how to build a company from the ground up, but how to craft a life: “sip by sip, not gulp by gulp.”

As the book progresses, Mel invites both his colleague, Will, and his readers to consider the benefits of Tea Mind– the state of mind one enters at around cup number five, according to Tang Dynasty poet, Lu Tong who wrote, “At the fifth cup, I am purified,” in his poem, Tea Drinking.

“I want what I have,” Mel petitions the reader, through his advice to Will. This statement is at the nucleus of Tea Mind, and the raison d’etre of creating a tea business, particularly in a severe economic downturn.

Wanting what you have provides relief, particularly when you need a distraction from thinking about what you may recently have lost or might lose in the unknown future. Tea is a wonderful tonic for any depression, be it economic or physiological. Tea Mind comes naturally from drinking tea and taking time out of one’s day to be quiet, observant and resident in his or her own stillness. It comes of itself, as easily as the steam.

Tea Mind is enduring and even more important now than it was during that puny recession of the early 1990’s when The Republic of Tea book was written (and the company founded).

Tea Mind is wanting what you have rather than angling to get what you want.  This small shift in words nudges the reader towards a huge yet simple segue in thinking and values. You find that wanting what you have is much more gratifying and takes much less energy than wanting things to be different.  “I want, I want, I want,” says the incumbent monkey mind. Yet when you sit down and sip a rare, hand-crafted oolong made from the ancient trees of China, you suddenly look around, and although life and its present challenges are still the same, you somehow settle into yourself, and the need for things to change somehow evaporates like streaks of steam rising then disappearing from your cup.

Suddenly, you are still and empty, and simply enjoying the gorgeousness of the steam itself, its aroma mingling with the comfort of your favorite books sitting on the shelf, and the lovely color of your living room walls.

Life has changed, and you didn’t do a thing, but drink some tea and start thinking differently. “Wow,” says Tea Mind. “Steam, color, smell.” Tea Mind is that simple:  “I want what I have.”

~Let me ride on this sweet breeze and waft away thither~

By Jennifer Leigh Sauer for Samovar Life

Tea Entrepreneur:
Tea Entrepreneur: Will Rosenzweig

Please join Will Rosenzweig, original founder of The Republic of Tea, at the first Samovar Tea Salon series, “Coping With The New Economy”.  The “Minister of Progress” will speak on the topic of Entrepreneurship as the first event of the series.

Tuesday, June 2
7-8:30 p.m.
Samovar Tea Lounge Hayes Valley
297 Page Street/Laguna, San Francisco

(415) 861-0303

Tickets will be available for sale in the Hayes Valley Store location only, for $12 per event. Save money, and purchase the entire series of 6 salons for $65. As this is a very intimate event, there are only 30 available seats. Tickets are non refundable.

Samovar Tea Lounge will serve fine premium teas  at the start of each event. Dining is available from 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm prior to the forum. Discount tickets are also available if purchasing the entire series of 6 salons for $65. All events will be held from 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm, and tickets are available for purchase only at Samovar’s Hayes Valley location.

-Jennifer Leigh Sauer, is a freelance photographer, award-winning video journalist, and author based in the San Francisco Bay Area. She is the author of The Way to Tea: Your Adventure Guide to San Francisco Tea Culture (2007). Click here to reach her by email.

Posted on

Water for Tea (Part II)

Water is important in every step of making sencha green teas: from the growing, to steaming, to brewing of the leaves.
Water is important in every step of making sencha green teas: from the growing, to steaming, to brewing of the leaves.

David Lee Hoffman’s appreciation for quality tea water reminds me of those of Lu Yu, the eighth century Tang Dynasty tea sage who instructed his readers in The Classic of Tea about how and where to collect water for tea:

“On the question of water to use, I would suggest that tea made from mountain streams is best, river water is all right, but well-water is quite inferior.”1

Other tea masters rave about the water used for brewing tea in the rural mountain villages of China where they go to find teas. They believe that where good tea grows, good water is often close at hand.  As well, the experience of drinking a tea in its natural habitat with local stream water meant for that tea is an inimitable lifetime experience to be treasured.

Continue reading Water for Tea (Part II)

Posted on

San Francisco: The Heart of America’s Tea Renaissance

Tea's A-Brewing All Over America
Tea's A-Brewing All Over America

Tea aficionados in the U.S. are quick to point out that tea is an age-old beverage with deep cultural roots around the world, and that its popularity as a drink is only surpassed by water. Meanwhile, those in the tea business hype the rapidly rising sales figures the industry has seen over the last decade or so, predicting enormous yields in future years. Strangely, both of these divergent outlooks completely fail to capture something essential and incredible that’s happening with tea in America.

The U.S. is in the midst of a tea renaissance. Tea traditions that had long lain dormant under the surface of American culture have sprung to vibrant life. Tea rituals, tea flavors and types, tea foods and teaware have begun to intermix with one another to create a new fusion style of tea that is wildly international and yet distinctly American. The American palate has become vastly more sophisticated with regard to tea, just as it did with coffee, beer, chocolate, sushi and wine in previous years. American culture has been infused, if you will, with tea.

Continue reading San Francisco: The Heart of America’s Tea Renaissance

Posted on

The Ancient Tea-Horse Road

The View from the Path of the Old Tea-Horse Road
The View from the Path of the Old Tea-Horse Road

Tea has been traded far and wide since time immemorial. Before there were planes, trains, boats, and automobiles, tea was transported strapped to the backs of people and horses. For over a millennium, one ancient footpath has connected the tea markets of Yunnan, China to the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau.

Known as the Ancient Tea-Horse Road, this unpaved and rugged path— which was formed only by the foot traffic of humans and horses— is one of the most dangerous ancient commercial roads. It stretches across nearly 2,500 miles of mountains, rivers, canyons, valleys and planes.  In addition to tea, trade goods like salt and sugar flow into Tibet via the Tea-Horse Road, while livestock, furs, musk, and other Tibetan products are transported to world beyond.

Continue reading The Ancient Tea-Horse Road

Posted on

Jodet’s Tea Trip to Taiwan Part I

The tea culture is growing and essentially, so should we. My name is Jodet Ghougassian and I’m the manager at Samovar Tea Lounge, Hayes Valley location. I have been studying tea for about three years. The various flavors and cultures of exploration in the world of tea fascinate me.

Jodet Picking Tealeaves in Taiwan
Jodet Picking Tealeaves in Taiwan

I find that often times, what people don’t know is that tea, much like any other plant, takes great skill and process. How often does one ponder, while sipping their black tea in the morning, “Wow, someone actually hand picked these leaves and spent hours contributing to the final process?” I know I never used to. Until now.

Eventually after understanding how to describe tea and its basic processes, I thought, how amazing would it be if I could actually go out and live on a farm with a tea master who can teach me everything I need to know about the processes of tea? This little dream soon became a goal needing to be accomplished, and that’s where my trip to Taiwan comes in.

On October 12, one of my staff members, Lorraine and I flew to Puli, Taiwan,  a mountainous region three hours outside of Taipei where a large population of tea cultivation takes place. We were staying with a farmer whom I met in May at the World Tea Expo. The farmer, KC Chen and his wife, Katie, welcomed me and Lorraine into their home with open arms.

Lorraine and host Rebecca on the tea bus
Lorraine and host Rebecca on the tea bus

We did not speak the language, nor did we know what to expect. We just shared a common love for tea. We packed our bags and traveled thousands of miles with our Flip camera, and our digitals in hopes of bringing back an experience for our Samovar staff and community. Mr.Chen had arranged for two lovely translators to guide us through the process.

Essentially, the itinerary was to process oolongs and black tea for a whole week from start to finish.  I was so intrigued with the complete tea experience. I feel that that’s not something you can find in a book.  We filmed and processed tea for the week and were able to get some amazing photographs and footage. I hope that the next couple blogs will enrich your knowledge of tea and help bring joy into your life as much as it has to mine.

Posted on

Passage to Peace, Exploring Tea Culture – Today

Tea is hot!
And no one steeps patrons in the ancient and enduring properties of tea like San Francisco’s Samovar Tea Lounge. In this compelling podcast, owner Jesse Jacobs explores the reverberations of how one cup of tea serenely enjoyed influences peace throughout the world. Visiting with modern Tea Masters, Jacobs uncovers the mysterious roots of today’s highly sought-after tea experience and sheds light on the dark elixir’s calming effects….

Posted on

A Japanese Tea Gathering at San Francisco’s Urasenke Society

Christie Bartlett, Founding Director of Ursaenke Society, San Francisco talks about the history of Urasenke, why tea gatherings matter today, and the ripple effect of “peace through a bowl of tea.”
– What is a “tea gathering?”
– Spontaneity through structure and the art of tea
– Slowing down time, appreciating fleeting moments
– Sipping tea to free the mind, cleaning tea utensils to clean the heart
– The role of a tea gathering in creating world peace

Check out the tea in this video… Matcha.

* Special thanks to Toshiko, for making the tea!

Posted on

Moroccan Tea Culture

Mostaffa and Omar brew traditional Moroccan tea and espouse on the harmonizing effects of Moroccan tea, Moroccan culture , and food- for all to embrace.
– How to make traditional Moroccan tea
– A gathering of family and friends around the Moroccan tea table
– Moroccan tea culture and the growing American tea culture
– The diverse ethnicities of Morocco and the unifying effect of tea

Teas in this video…Moorish Mint

Posted on

Jennifer Sauer’s Interview with Jesse of Samovar (Part 2)


Jennifer Sauer, photographer, Bon Teavant, author of Way to Tea, (the beautiful guide to tea culture in the San Francisco Bay Area), shares her audio interview with Samovar founder, Jesse Jacobs.

Listen to the interview at Sauer’s website Bon Teavant.

Media Contact:
Jesse Cutler, Samovar: (415) 655-3431 / [email protected]

Posted on

Samovar Tea Lounge: Tea culture and leadership in difficult times

Tea culture and leadership in difficult timesBon Teavant, Photographer, and Way To Tea Author,  Jennifer Sauer writes about tea, community, and leadership in these economically challenging times. Sauer looks to Samovar founder, Jesse Jacobs for his insight into tea…beyond the leaves.

Check out her blog and complete article

“Our communities look to us for sanctuary, community, compassion, and the opportunity for sharing ideas, dreams, and sorrows during these trying times.  Tea culture is the perfect vehicle for meeting the deeper needs of our friends, family, colleagues, and customers.

Jesse Jacobs, owner of Samovar Tea Lounge, is exactly this kind of community leader. As a testament to his success in this role, he just gathered the investment capital to open his third tea room.  I wondered, “How is this guy so incredibly successful in such a frightening and dismal economy?”  I had to find out for myself, so I interviewed Jesse.  What I found is that Jesse has a very strong grasp of what tea can provide our community beyond water and leaves.  His special understanding of what tea can do for people draws crowds magnetically to his charming and serene tearooms.  His depth and integrity are worth noting, and in fact, are the driving force behind his great success.
Tea culture is the antidote to solitary striving. It is a vehicle to community and sanctuary, to the kindness and compassion that help us survive and moreover, to thrive, even in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds.  As leaders of our community, it is our job to provide a safe haven for those needing solace, a good place to laugh or to cry, and to brainstorm new solutions to triumph over fear and difficulty. This is a part of our path and destiny as tea people.  In this era, we can shine.”

Media Contact:
Jesse Cutler, Samovar: (415) 655-3431 / [email protected]

Posted on


When Jodet isn’t busy helping lead the Samovar team, or living in the downstairs basement of Samovar (OK, maybe that’s an exaggeration), she’s having herself a cup of Lychee Black. “The Lychee Black is an essence of who I am,” she says. “I love that tea like I love my mom. It’s my favorite tea of all time.”

“I drink it in my office every morning, and at times on my roof top overlooking the water at home while listening to the Idan Raichel Project. Pair it with a jook or an egg bowl, and you have yourself a perfect, warming meal! When Jodet isn’t sipping her Lychee, she’s practicing vinyasa yoga, obsessing about design and architecture, tending to her cat Madison, or flipping through Architectural Digest magazine.”

She has a love for print journalism, fashion photography, Chinese herbs and acupuncture, white wine and fine dining, and of course, the tea culture and its many meticulous details.

Jodet speaks Farsi , Armenian, English (of course), and is currently studying Spanish with the intent to become fluent. She’s attending school for her MBA.

“I grew up drinking tea from really beautiful, authentic, gold-plated, traditional Samovars in Iran. Tea has been an important part of my life since childhood.”

Ambassador Jodet
Ambassador Jodet
Posted on

The Most Important Question in Your Life

Teresa Making a Difference at Samovar
Teresa Making a Difference at Samovar

Did I Make a Difference?

When it’s all said and done, will you consider whether your presence on this planet made one iota of difference? We believe everyone wants to know their lives made a difference. Why?

Because nothing else really matters. So what if you made a lot of money, traveled the world, or bought a lot of stuff. Did you make a difference? Let’s live our lives every single second of every single day knowing without hesitation that our lives made a difference for the better. And let’s live with an easygoing elegance that is contagious to everyone we touch. Below are six really simple ways you can make a huge difference.

1. Use compact fluorescent light bulbs.
If every household in America used just one bulb, this would equate to taking 1.3 million automobiles off the roads.

2. Shop at a farmer’s market once a month (or more) to eat healthy, seasonal, organic food produced by local farmers. It’s good for your taste buds, your health, local business, and the environment.

3. Help everyone get health care. We live in a great country, and it would be even greater if everyone had health care. Support initiative
H.R. 676 that supports universal health care.

4. Make peace by drinking tea. No, this is not blatant self promotion for Samovar. It’s just blatant truth. Tea is about connecting to the moment, whether alone or with others. If everyone were to have tea with a friend at least once a week, a lot of our problems would just go away.

5. Shorten your shower by just 10 seconds and conserve water and energy.

6. Reduce your environmental Toothprint.
By the time you die, most will have gone through at least 1,000 toothbrushes. That’s 100 million pounds of plastic toothbrushes in landfills in this country alone. Buy a toothbrush with a disposable head and you’ll have made a big difference.

For more information, check out these movies and resources:
Feature films: An Inconvenient Truth , by Al Gore and, Sicko by Michael Moore

Posted on

The Four Agreements (Samovar-Style)

Tie Kwan Yin Agrees
Tie Kwan Yin Agrees

Tara, one of our esteemed leaders from the Yerba Buena location recently inspiredus with her book recommendation The Four Agreements, by Don Miguel Ruiz:

2. Nothing’s Personal. We aren’t at the center of the center of our own little Universe. Instead, our customers are. That said, we value your opinions and watch our actions, all without being too attached to outcomes. That way, we never take things hard, and always take it easy.

3. Assume Not. We live the questions and work our way toward answers on a daily basis. Communication is key, so our customers aren’t ever afraid to express what it is they want. With all eyes on our assumptions, misunderstandings, sadness and drama simply disappear.

4. Our Best, Always. Our best always looks the same, but we always give it. While circumstances change from moment to moment, our commitment to excellence never wavers. We’re simply too busy being the best that we can be, all day every day, to find room or time for judgments. Or, better yet, regrets.

Posted on

Trade Secrets of Samovar Tea Lounge

The Secret of the Samovar
The Secret of the Samovar

At Samovar, we treat the business of the tea experience, our work, as our art. And, we’re really proud of the art we are making for this world. The way we see it, the secret to being a successful artist is to really be able to listen. To listen to the customers, to our vendors, to the city, to the weather, to our farmers, our employees, and to listen to the world around us with all of our senses: sight, sound, smell, touch, and energy.

If we can listen, and really see our surroundings then we can do whatever is necessary to make our work a beautiful piece of art that improves the world around us.

And, we’ve figured out the secret to listening successfully. Ask questions. Any kind of question, big, small, smart, stupid, obvious, obscure, immediate, timeless, personal, professional, happy, sad, or indifferent. Because if we’re always asking questions, then we’re always looking, thinking, caring, and acting.

That’s one reason that as a company we don’t have thick booklets of training materials and checklists for managers and employees to follow. We want our people to ask questions, to think, and to be creative. Certainly we have “our” way that we brew tea, our way of processing payroll, or completing  mail order for a customer. But, we don’t want robotic drones working here.

We want people who care, think, and are creative. And, if our people are always asking questions, then they are always thinking about what they’re doing. And if they’re thinking about what they’re doing, then, they’re thinking about creative solutions for whatever it is they are doing and how it might be done better.

It’s all about creativity. And with thoughtful, mindful, creativity, comes beautiful art, beautiful business, and beautiful life.

Posted on

(Part II) Teresa in India: Uttar Pradesh

The Girls of Uttar Pradesh
The Girls of Uttar Pradesh

From the Faraway state of Uttar Pradesh, all the way to Samovar Tea Lounge in San Francisco, this is Tea Ambassador Teresa reporting from afar…

In another words, a place where time seems to stand still and therefore it comes as a surprise to me that it has been almost 3 weeks already since I arrived here.

This red brick 4 storey house, full of all those joyful faces of girls running around, really feels like home to me now. That is where I wake up every morning and before going down for breakfast, take an Indian bath. The whole intricate system of taking a shower in an Indian way lies in one bigger bucket full of water and a small pitcher with which a person splashes the water over himself/herself. So instead of “taking a shower”, it is more like “taking a bucket”. However, it serves the purpose fairly well.
The daily routine starts with a breakfast (invariably toasts and hot milk or mildly spiced chai) and follows with my workshops with the older girls. There is some time to exhale and wipe off the sweat before lunch is served. (The secret word is: 215) Lunch as well as dinner consists of chapatis (“pancakes” made out of flour and water, rosted on open fire), rice, raita (yoghurt-like sour concoction) and cooked vegetables of different sorts but bigger amounts, so that all the 50 hungry throats in the house would get fed.

The Girls' Bed Room
The Girls' Bed Room

After lunch, I’m having English classes with the little ones for a few hours that naturally flow into an art workshop (yes, the girls love to draw) and sometimes basketball or a game of cards. There are also moments I steal away a little time for making tea from my own collection.

Dinner comes as late as 8pm and then there is just a little time left for the weenies to brush their teeth and play in their roomsbefore they get too tired and often crush at any random place in a house (from where the older girls carry them to their beds). Seeing a little girl sleeping on a concrete floor is a common phenomena, which quickly stops being a matter of concern. The older girls (and I) stay up till about midnight and talk, study or iron their school uniforms (the older ones still go to school in the mornings). Night is the time I get to know the older ones as they become more open and eager to share their personal stories, their passions but also fears and worries about their pasts and their futures. It is at night when you get to hear the most touching, most frightening and most sincere stories of their lives which you wish they never had to live through.

The Older Girls
The Older Girls

English classes with the little ones would rather deserve a title “Teresa’s preschool play group”, since we are mostly drawing, playing, crying, screaming, laughing, sleeping (and all that the 6 year olds love to do) and, of course, we try to do all that in English. The personality development workshop with the older girls has revealed many areas that should be worked on – the ability to listen, express oneself, work in a team, not to give up easily, take challenges, think in abstract terms, be creative, trust and understand. Generally all that everyone of us needs to get better at, right?

Well, these girls need special attention and care since their reactions are sometimes not adequate to the situation. The management of their own feelings might be one of the tricky parts. So it happens a girl can start crying during the class for seemingly no reason at all and stays inert until the end of the workshop, one 6 years old princess threatens another 6 y/o by shooting her dead (obvious knowledge of handing guns), and I even witnessed an ostensibly symbolic gesture of suicide. That all and more. The light tone of my voice serves merely to make the tragic reality digestable for general public.

It is not an easy work at times, but then, don’t get the impression it is all just dealing with difficult deep-tissue problems. Thegirls are adorable and after all, they are just kids who want the same like any of us in their age. They need to play, to hug, to have a cry sometimes, they are smiling most of the time, running and calling at each other from the inner porches of the house, they help aunties in the kitchen and although none of them has or knows her parents, each has 40 other sisters living in the same house. It feels like a big loving family.

Teresa’s Preschool Play Group
Teresa’s Preschool Play Group

My time here has recently had two other highlights – a very positive one, when a Danish girl Camilla joined me here as a volunteer and became my friend and a work colleague for 2 weeks; and a not-so-great one, when I was shot down by a typical Indian sickness (which means 3 days of strong headaches, fever, diarrhea and being sick). This is apparently a common “tax” that every foreigner has to pay if he/she intends to spend more than 2 weeks over here. The local people are completely chilled about it and always have the remedy that gets you up to your feet again within 3 days. Just another typical Indian experience (usual for other hot-climate countries as well).

Alright, today it was mostly about “the daily life in one orphanage in India”. There are much more impressions and observations which I will keep for later. Anyone who should have any specific questions from social/cultural/touristic or any related areas, feel free to drop me a line. Next time, I will try to focus on confrontation of cultures (get ready for some surprising and funny bits). Hope a few pictures get through for you to get a better idea what I am writing about.

Many greetings and best wishes! Keep making small differences in the world and drinking good tea!
Teresa — [email protected]

Posted on

(Part I) Notes from Teresa in India: I Arrive!

Since every journey has its beginning, this one starts in the cozy shelter of Samovar Tea Lounge in San Francisco, and ends on the streets of India.


Having loved tea with its different varieties since my teenage years in the Czech Rebpulic, it has always been a necessity for me to find a good tea spot wherever I live. So when I moved to San Francisco last August and started my desperate tea search, Samovar was one of the names that came up. I soon realized it was my favorite place to visit, and, yet that if I kept up my student life, I would go broke drinking up my savings!

And so, knowing well that I loved the environment there, I decided it would be a perfect place to work (and, I could drink all the tea I wanted!) It was always wonderful to cross the Yerba Buena Gardens when going to work, which never really felt like work but rather like a community of people sharing similar values and love for tea. Doing matcha services, smelling the opening leaves of dong ding, hearing the church bells from across the Mission street, joking with my colleagues (who I miss and send my love to)…that all was part of my job which I very much enjoyed.

When the idea of my leaving to India came up, I was, of course, sad to say goodbye to all the tea-lounging of Samovarites and to all the friends I made there within the few months I was part of the TEAm. At the same time, I knew the India experience would bring a lot of joy to my life and to the life of others as well.
My mission in India is to make a difference, to help other people live their life in a rich and satisfying manner—and I decided to put my educational training (in education) into play by starting a program targeted at helping homeless Indian girls.

Posted on

Slow Money, Slow Food, Slow Tea, Slow Living

The world is getting fast, and the older you get, it seems the faster it gets. When you’re 18, life stretches out infinitely before you, you’re aware of it because you are just floating in the stream, and you feel eternally young. In your twenties, you are still light. You’ve got enough experience and cockiness and opinion to do anything. You can’t believe that you are already an adult. It seems like life has gone fast, but, you are still invincible.

The thirties come, and there’s no question: you are adult and truly independent. But you also see life  differently now. You’ve been through some pains, and even in your body you notice random little aches and pains at times. Your teens and twenties seem a long time ago, and, ‘forty” the years you always hear of people freaking out over, loom very closely. In your forties you cannot deny that aging is truly a part of your existence. And that’s when things kick into high gear, going really fast…cars, houses, families. Life starts to blur from then to the end.

Routine settles in with responsibilities. Things get stale, cynical, rote, and potentially bitter. Some people crave and create escape–any kind of excitement possible to break out of the rote routine, and to interrupt the speedway that life has become. But many times these escapes are not to a constructive end. Escape is not what we need from life. The secret to feeling alive, and to getting out of the routine is to…


We are members of the Slow Food Association because we believe in valuing and savoring those things in life which take time. Growing food, eating food, spending time with friends and family, relishing the process of life. We are physical human beings which operate at the speed of our hearts. As a company, we also believe in Slow Money. Valuable money takes time to make, and a valuable company takes time to succeed. By succeed I mean to create a lasting and positive influence on its community of customers, employees, vendors. It takes time to create value. How long? As long as it needs. The question for us is never “How fast can it be done?” Instead it’s “How slow will it be?”

The slower something is, the more valuable it becomes. Why? Because time is the one thing that cannot be created. Time is an investment of…time. The more time something takes, the more valuable it becomes. An iced tea takes 15 seconds to pour. It tastes cool, refreshing, slightly sweet and may have aroma and flavor of chamomile, or mint, or citrus. An organic Japanese sencha takes 5 minutes, an eternity to some customers, because we warm the cup and pot, measure the tea, decant and cool the water, steep the tea three minutes, remove the leaves, and then serve it. The taste is out of this world: buttery, grassy, slightly sweet, lingering. It is soothing on the nerves, and yet also gently uplifting. The experience takes time to create, and should take even more time to enjoy. The slowness of it makes if more profound and more valuable.

Our mission is to make the world a better place by delivering the ultimate tea experience. For us, tea is about Relaxation, Health, and Social Intimacy. Relaxation occurs by slowing down. Health takes time to develop. Social intimacy is about slowing down and spending time with friends and family.
Each of those is rooted in slowness, and, if the everybody were to slow down to appreciate those things, the world would be a much better place.

In slowness we are forced to experience the fluctuations and vacillations of our mind, our thinking, our patterns and habits, and our surroundings. Through slowness we witness the blowing of the wind, the honk of a horn, the smile of a passerby, the aroma of a cup of tea, the good morning kiss of a partner, the abilities of our body, the beauty inside our home.

Speed is a drug, whether it’s meth-amphetamines, or, just living in the fast lane. And, by looking at the pictures of people hooked on either the drug Speed, or the lifestyle Speed, the effects are very similar, and, pretty scary: haggard, nervous, darting, sunken eyes, sallow and pale complexion, drawn cheeks, stooped posture, jittery nerves…totally consumed.

How slow is slow enough?

Going slow is painful. We are addicted to the speed, and the faster we go, the faster we want to go. We continue pushing the pedal down, faster and faster, until….we redline. A car operating at red the line for long will break down. I heard recently that the most efficient speed for a car’s engine is 60 miles per hour, 1 mile a minute. But is is hard to slow down to 60 on the highway. It’s frightening and uncomfortable. It’s hard to pay attention to every breath, in and out. It’s hard to cook your meal slowly, focusing on the bounty you have, and even harder to focus on eating it slowly, no TV, no magazines and no talking to distract you.

But if you can slow down you will experience magic.

I don’t believe there is any other way. Slow things have more value, they take more time, and they deliver more. Slow food tastes better than fast food. Slow breathing makes you more relaxed than hyperventilating. Slow loving feels better. Friendships take time. A good meal takes time. Wild salmon takes time to grow up big and strong. Delicious produce takes time to go from seed to sprout to full grown and edible. Deep, meaningful, lasting companies take time to evolve, develop and prosper.

How do you live slower? Just do it.

Seriously, the littlest things will bring the biggest joys. The taste of sauteed garlic in olive oil. The aroma of jasmine flower in your cup. The feel of the kitchen table under your hands. The smile of a co-worker. The caress of your partner. Slowing down allows you to taste the flavors of life, at no cost other than your time and attention. Slow down and you will have more time, and time will mean much more.

Just slow down.