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Tuesday’s Tea Salon: “The Meaning of Money in the New Economy”

Samovar Tuesday Tea Salon
Samovar Tuesday Tea Salon

The Meaning of Money in the New Economy

How will the value of money change in the coming months and years, and how can you best manage your own money as dollars come and go, rise and fall, with the shifting economic climate? Come sip premium tea with John Marshall, who will help you decipher the best ways to respond to the changing financial picture in the U.S.

Featuring John Marshall-Stella, Principle of Stella Capital and  Moderator James Norwood Pratt

About James Norwood Pratt:
James Norwood Pratt is an author and authority on wine, tea and tea lore. He is best known for his books on tea “The Tea Lover’s Treasury” (1982), “The Tea Lover’s Companion” (1995), and the whimsical “Reading Tea Leaves” (1996) authored as “by a Highland Seer.” In 2000 he brought out “James Norwood Pratt’s NEW Tea Lover’s Treasury,” a complete re-casting of his earlier work in the light of increased information. This book has been translated into German with the title “Tee fur Geniesse” and is often used as a training manual in the US tea trade.

About the Samovar Tea Salon Series “Coping With The New Economy”
Samovar Tea Salon Series invites a small audience to an intimate, open-dialogue forum meant to inspire and energize the community to respond mindfully and optimistically to a rapidly changing social and economic era. Tea Salons will be held bi-weekly on Tuesday evenings at Samovar’s new “Hayes Valley” location (297 Page @ Laguna).

These Tea Salons bring together some of the finest Bay Area minds in finance, spirituality, technology, entrepreneurialism, self help and the environment in an interview/forum format, moderated by Samovar owner Jesse Jacobs and events associate Jennifer Sauer (Author of The Way to Tea: Your Adventure Guide to San Francisco Tea Culture).

Tuesday, June 16
7-8:30 p.m. (Come early for dinner!)
Samovar Tea Lounge Hayes Valley
297 Page Street (@ Laguna Street)
San Francisco, CA 94102
Phone: (415) 861-0303

Tickets are limited to 22 people per event. Samovar Tea Lounge will serve fine premium teas equally valued at the cost of admission ($12) 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: two people for $20 (single event), or three tickets (three individual events) for $30.

All Tea Salons will be held from 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm, and tickets are available for purchase at Samovar’s Hayes Valley location.

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Three Recommendations And A Petition

Drinking Tea on the Terrace at Samovar Yerba Buena
Drinking Tea on the Terrace at Samovar Yerba Buena

We are happily spoiled in the San Francisco Bay Area when it comes to tea, and all the more so because we have three fabulous Samovar Tea Lounges to choose from.  Having even one would be a great boon to any town, but three?  Wow… Or ‘Yum,’ I’m not sure which.

Although I haven’t tried everything on the Samovar menu, I can recommend some favorites. First, the Tea Soup is a celestial creation.  It’s simple, healthy, flavorful, and comes with a half pot of Houjicha green tea (the first half pot is actually poured by the server over the soup bowl which is filled with rice, veggies, wakame, and shitake mushrooms).  It’s elegant, healthy, whimsical, and delicious—everything we look for in fine Bay Area cuisine.

Another Samovar Delight: Tofu Curry with Raita and Spiced Basmati Rice
Another Samovar Delight: Tofu Curry with Raita and Spiced Basmati Rice

I’ve also been sensually hijacked by the Braised Tofu Over Spring Greens, which, like the Tea Soup, stands out for its natural simplicity and vegetarian fabulousness.  Covered with a tarragon-balsamic vinaigrette, this salad is a filling but light meal that satisfies even those who seem to need protein every two hours.

The last time I had this, I paired it with the Phoenix Oolong, which is as carefully handcrafted as the sumptuous salad.

Any meal is not complete in my world unless it is followed by something sweet. I have wanted to try something other than the Cherry Oat Scones with Devonshire Cream & Jam, but to no avail.  These scones are so delicious, I would have to simultaneously place an order of these to wrap up and take home with me so I might feel it to be a sensible risk to try another sweet. Even still, I would feel a bit like a defector, and my loyalty is always on the side of clotted cream.  But this defection has not yet happened because of the following ditty (and a rather pithy protest of sorts):

There is this one last item to mention, more as an appeal than as a recommendation, because, alas, Jesse has taken the Earl Grey Bread Pudding (italics mine, in place of sophomoric exclamation points) off the menu.

More deliciousness: Salmon Jook with nori, fried garlic, sweet potato, and more!
More deliciousness: Salmon Jook with nori, fried garlic, sweet potato, and more!

Seeing as the internet is socially viral, I’d like to take this opportunity to start a formal petition to get this item back on the printed page and onto our plates as soon as it is humanly possible to do so.

I brought a food and wine editor from Chronicle Books to Samovar a year or so ago just to share this little piece of Nirvana, and after taking just a few bites she asked if I thought Jesse might be interested in a cookbook deal (which he was not, because apparently he was putting all his resources and energy into out-doing himself with the now Chocolate Chip Brioche bread pudding).

Chocolate is fine, but this is a tea lounge, Jesse, and we want the Earl Grey Bread Pudding back, don’t we folks?  Fill the S.T.L. e-mailbox with your request to bring this item back:  [email protected]  There.  Go ahead and do it.  Show them the muscle and integrity of your culinary citizenship.

In the meantime, the scones are not a mere consolation prize.  You may as well enjoy them for any occasion, short of celebrating the return of the Earl Grey Bread Pudding.  They go well with just about any tea….

Jennifer Leigh Sauer for Samovar Life

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.

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A Meditation Begins at Samovar Hayes Valley

Les, Reclining in Quite Meditation
Les, Reclining in Quite Meditation

It was last Monday night.  I had the luxury of not teaching that evening but rather had just come from being a student in a yoga class.  For weeks, I’d been telling myself I needed to get back to the Zen Center on Monday nights and for weeks I’d been telling myself I would go take this yoga class and go to the new Samovar in “Hayes Valley” (aka Hayes Valley) and then drop into the meditation.  Why did so much luxury appear to be such a struggle for something my spirit needs on a very regular basis to replenish and re-nourish?

So, I got out of yoga and it was raining – ok pouring, first sign that I might not take the next step and might return home to my isolated intimacy (Facebook).  Then suddenly, I found myself sitting at the community table at the new Samovar, Hayes Valley and although I wanted to be alone, there were a few staff members at the other end but they were heavily engaged in some running-the-business matters.  So, I had the end of the table all to myself and after a while of reading and enjoying a pot of Wei Chi Cha tea (which should be made into popsicles), I realized that a meditation had already begun.  That just being in an environment that took care of me allowed me drift off and let go of thoughts that had nothing to do with the present moment.  All my concerns at that moment were if I needed more water and someone else would get that for me.

Then, as the universe always does, community begins to sprout and the front door opened and in walked a few folks I knew that were coming for some tea and then heading over to the Zen Center for the meditation and then a few minutes later, a few more folks came in and then more and more.  All of a sudden, there were 10 people at Samovar who were stopping in to begin creating a peaceful transition from their day into their spiritual practice and that practice began with sharing a pot of tea.  I knew I was in the right place but to secure and cement the foundation, the door opened one more time and a very important mentor and guide of my own spiritual practice walked in and asked me if I was headed to the meditation.  I thought the answer was obvious but that I needed to be asked was a good reminder that maybe my actions haven’t been speaking as loudly as my thoughts lately.

Samovar Hayes Valley, Where a Community of Calm Unite
Samovar Hayes Valley, Where a Community of Calm Unite

It took tea and some moments alone to reflect on a practice that has served thousands of people for thousands of years.  It took a great teacher to be mindful enough to ask the question are you going and I realized that a life with purpose always has the answer of yes I am going so that others may also go.  The community is already there on every side of the street in Hayes Valley but take a few extra moments to stop in at the new Samovar and give your self the gift of being still and enjoy some moments of meditation and some tea.  You will be well taken care of by the staff and the surroundings.

If you’d like some more information on Les and his practices, visit

Hari Om Tat Sat – Les

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SF Weekly Tastes Tea at Samovar Hayes Valley

sf weekly logoSamovar Hayes Valley Tea Tasting
March 4, 2009

The Samovar Tea Lounge’s Hayes Valley edition has been up and running since the end of 2008, but there’s still no sign on the door to mark the establishment. With its dim lighting, the lounge easily blends into the rows of Victorians on Page Street — an unobtrusive, almost  organic piece of the neighborhood to the casual eye. Which is exactly what owner Jesse Jacobs had in mind….

Click here to read the rest of the article in a new window.

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Yoga Journal Reports on Samovar Hayes Valley

Tea Party
Friday, March 6, 2009

logoMeditators at the San Francisco Zen Center now have a place to socialize after they sit. A new Samovar Tea Lounge has opened up in San Francisco’s Hayes Valley (now affectionately dubbed “Hayes Valley”) with a full array of artisan teas to satisfy any spiritual practitioner. The YJ Staff Favorite? Ocean of Wisdom, which is a Samovar blend created for the Dalai Lama himself.

If you’re not local to the SF Bay Area, you can recreate the post-meditation tea tradition at home by ordering from Samovar’s online store.

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

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A New Samovar Blossoms in Hayes Valley


Samovar Tea Lounge III is now open!

As San Francisco’s oldest tea loung,e we have expanded into a new, third Samovar location. And we are really, really excited about it.

What’s old is new and what’s new becomes old.That seems to be the cycle of life. And now, after six years in business, we have opened in SF’s newest neighborhood, “Hayes Valley,” across the street from America’s oldest Zen institution, the San Francisco Zen Center. This oasis of a ‘hood is the perfect blend of zen and tea are now available for anyone near Hayes Valley, Japan Town, Civic Center, and Upper Market to enjoy. Shining in a bright red coat of paint, you can’t miss the spot: 297 Page St. @ Laguna St.

Given the current economic and political climate, we felt especially excited at the prospect of broadening the tea business in challenging times because of the goodness that the tea brings in especially difficult times: community, relaxation, health, social intimacy. There is perhaps more of a need for tea today than other time in recent history. And we are really thrilled to be here, alongside the Zen Center and all that that organization brings to SF.

What make this latest Samovar Tea Lounge special?

The Location
Being across the street from the San Francisco Zen Center, connecting the tradition of tea directly to the practice of sitting meditation makes for some really good chemistry. Of course you don’t have to be a meditater or a Buddhist to enjoy Samovar, but, as the mission the Zen Center is to cross all demographic boundaries to “…make accessible the wisdom and compassion of the Buddha…” just sitting across the street in the lounge sipping a Masala Chai, you can’t help but to feel a sense of peace from their strong neighborhood presence. And, the constant flow of zen students and teachers in and out of Samovar give you the chance to connect to some amazing people, doing really good things.

This space is situated in quiet, quintessential residential neighborhood outside the main commercial drag of Hayes Valley – giving you the perfect excuse to go shopping, and people watching, and then to escape…to a blissful cup of tea. Also, although it is tucked away, it is also incredibly central to the rail and bus Muni systems, the Bart, and, to walking from Market Street, Japan Town, the Fillmore, Hayes Valley, and Civic Center.

The Building Materials
Having the opportunity to operate two successful Samovar Tea Lounges over the past 6 years, we have had the luxury to see what works and what doesn’t in a tea lounge. This third location was the perfect chance to put into practice all the best elements. Here’s a partial list of what we were able to incorporate into the building of this location:

– Forest Stewardship Council certified wood flooring. All of our wood floors come from biodiverse, sustainably harvested timber, and than literally hand finished by artisans to create the functional, and beautiful aesthetic they embody.

– Tables and Bar – For all of our tables and bars, we went really, really, really local. Up in Marin a friend of ours salvaged some wind fallen redwood trees, 1200 year old trees to be exact. After getting seasoned for many years at his home, he finished them, and installed them – here at this location. Beautiful, natural, and from only 20 minutes away! We were especially excited about the tea bar. It’s the perfect place to taste tea, hang out and chat with us about he nuances of oolongs, or to bring a date. It’s a real bar, and yet only for tea!

– Electrical and equipment usage is all low energy consumption. Even the bathroom uses state of the art water faucet, hand drier, and lights!

– Metalwork is reclaimed metal from an old vinegar factory up in Northern California. The factory and vinegar is gone, but, the metal has remained and found a new home in beautifying and supporting this new space

The People
Our staff has been hired from a very large pool of applicants. We have a 4″ stack of resumes of people looking to work at Samovar, and this new staff at the Hayes Valley location made the cut. They are passionate about tea, live really interesting lives, love customer service, and are excited to be calling this new location their home away from home. How many other jobs out there have staff lingering around for three hours after the shift is done? Not many. Our folk love working here, and even when the work is done, they linger, sipping tea, talking about tastings, and crops and seasons, and hanging out with our customers. Thank you Samovarians for making our space so special.

Our History
First we opened during the peak of the Dot-Com bust, in a classic San Francisco coffee shop just outside the Castro, to serve the neighborhood with the salve tea offers. Then came the be-jeweled dome in Yerba Buena Gardens beneath this city’s skyscrapers, satisfying downtown workers, tourists, and convention-goers with an escape from the city’s frenzy.

And now, tucked in a quiet residential neighborhood across the street from the San Francisco Zen Center, comes this most exciting location yet. Please visit us and find out for yourself!

Samovar Hayes Valley is open….

Everyday: 10am-10pm

See you soon!

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Hayes Valley

Samovar Hayes ValleyWe are open…

Every day: 10am – 10 pm

We are located… in the Hayes Valley neighborhood of San Francisco, a couple blocks from the center of Hayes Valley.

297 Page Street (@ Laguna Street)
San Francisco, CA 94102
Phone: (415) 861-0303

For Directions to Samovar, Please Use the Get Directions Link in the Map Below

View Map

There is restricted 2 hour and unrestricted street parking on Page Street, Laguna Street, and most surrounding streets. Please be sure to observe the street parking signs.

Bike Parking
There is one bike rack outside of Samovar Hayes Valley. All other bike parking can be found against street signs.

Public Transport…
6-Line, 7-Line, 71-Line: The 6,7,& 71 bus lines stop at the corner of Haight St. and Laguna St. Walk one block to Page St. and Laguna St.

MUNI Underground: The closest Muni Underground stop is Van Ness Station.
All inbound and outbound underground lines stop at Van Ness Station.
Exit Station and walk along Market Street to Page Street.
Turn Right onto Page Street. Walk about 3 blocks up Page Street to Laguna Street.
Turn Left and you can enter the Tea Lounge.
(This is about a 9 minute walk).

Get off at the Civic Center Station.
Exit Station and walk about 5 blocks SW along Market Street toward Page Street.
Turn Right onto Page Street. Walk about 3 blocks up Page Street to Laguna Street.
Turn Left and enter the Tea Lounge.
(This is about a 16 minute walk).

Samovar’s Reservation Policy
Samovar is a walk-in only establishment, so we are unable to take reservations ahead of time. Parties of 2-4 are usually very easy to accommodate at any time. For parties of 6 or more, you are welcome to call ahead 20 minutes in advance to see if we can accommodate your group at that time.

If you would like to ensure seating for a large group, we also offer meal reservation packages which include a reserved table, meal, and teas for everyone in the party. This special reservation is available for $60 per person. You can pre-select food and tea from our menu to have them specially prepared in family-style platters. For more information, please email [email protected] s a m o v a r l i f e. c o m .