It’s 1960 at the Cherry Hills Country Club in Denver, Colorado. A man steps up to the bar and orders an iced tea with lemonade. Nearby, a woman recognizes him as he walks away and says to the bartender, “I’ll have that Palmer drink,” inadvertently launching the iced tea phenomenon known as The Arnold Palmer.
At our Tea Bar in the Mission, we’re introducing our take on this classic iced tea, named in homage to the golf great, that we’re calling The Rosie Palmer.
When the weather gets hot, Jasmine Green Tea Lemonade chills the palette and calms the mind. It’s one of the best-sellers at our Tea Lounges, but for years we’ve held the recipe as a closely-guarded secret. Take a look as we lay bare our coveted Iced Tea recipe.
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.
At Samovar Tea Lounge, our tea and food menu draws from tea cultures around the world, from Morocco, to Japan, to China, to India. One of our most popular dishes is the English Tea Service, inspired by the traditional “afternoon tea.”
The 19th-century Duchess of Bedford is credited with inventing afternoon tea. At the time, folks in London ate two main meals: breakfast, and dinner. Dinner was served around 8-9 pm, and like many others, the Duchess found that she became hungry around 3 pm. She started enjoying a pot of tea and small finger sandwiches or cakes in the afternoon to take the edge off her hunger.
Soon friends began joining her for tea, and the ritual exploded across the country, with people gathering in the afternoon to socialize over tea. (Afternoon tea is different than “high tea,” which is a heavier meal served later in the day.)
Our organic Hibiscus Bliss isn’t a replacement for a multivitamin, but this caffeine-free blend contains natural vitamin C, which promotes a healthy immune system, skin, eyes, and heart.
The “C” in Hibiscus Bliss comes from two herbs: hibiscus and rosehips. Hibiscus is a bright red tropical flower which may also help lower blood pressure. Rosehips, made from the round red fruit that forms on a rose bush, is one of the richest plant sources for vitamin C.
According to Chinese legend, Kuan Yin’s temple was located in the Fujian province of China. At one point the temple became very dilapidated. A poor farmer took notice, and whenever he had a chance he would sweep the temple floors, burn incense, and clean her statue.
At Samovar Tea Lounge, we get a lot of customers coming in asking us how they can kick the coffee habit. We never hear people asking how they can get off tea though. Why is this?
I have nothing against coffee, and enjoy the occasional well-brewed cup of Joe just as much as the next person. But coffee as part of your daily routine can present some problems.
First off, coffee is highly addictive. Once you start to depend on coffee to wake you up in the morning, and keep you going all day long, it becomes a crutch. How many people do you know who have to have their cup of coffee in the morning, or else they’ll get massive headaches? Perhaps you’re one of them.
White teas are processed so gently that you can still see the fuzzy hairs on the tea buds. To make white tea, the baby tea buds and tender young leaves of the tea plant are picked, then dried in the sun. After one to three days, they’re baked briefly to halt the oxidation process. That’s it.
1. All tea comes from the same plant.
Whether black tea, white tea, oolong tea, green tea, or pu-erh tea, it all comes from the camellia sinensis plant. The varietals, oxidation level, and processing techniques differentiate each type of tea. Herbal blends are actually not “real” tea, since they come from other botanicals.
2. It’s polite to slurp your tea.
As with wine, professional tea tasters slurp their tea from a spoon to experience the full flavor of the tea on all parts of their palate.
Legend has it that popped rice and tea originated in ancient Japan when premium green tea was a luxury item. Peasants made their tea stretch further by adding toasted rice kernels.
Samovar Tea Lounge pays homage to this tradition of tea and rice with our Ryokucha Green Tea. We blend high quality, organic Japanese green tea with toasted rice and a touch of organic matcha. The result: a smooth, nutty brew with a luminous jade green color.
Cereal-like with a sweet grassiness, Ryokucha is the ultimate tea for breakfast. Pair Ryokucha with freshly baked bread, oatmeal, or our Jook with smoked salmon.
Our tea gurus (aka servers) often receive the question, “Which tea should I drink for this time of day?”
The easy answer is, “Whatever tea inspires you.” But if you’d like a little more guidance, here are a few pointers:
Samovar Tea Lounge is proud to partner with The Long Now Foundation to source a rare pu-erh tea for the foundation’s future Salon, for which they are raising support.
The Long Now Foundation was established in 01996 to to creatively foster long-term thinking and responsibility in the framework of the next 10,000 years. They are championing the Clock and Library projects, to provide a counterpoint to today’s accelerating culture and help make long-term thinking more common.
If we were stranded on a desert island and could choose only tea brewing utensil, we’d choose the Samovar Cloud Gaiwan. It’s beautiful, simple, and makes great tea.
The Chinese gaiwan, or “covered bowl,” is one of the oldest brewing devices around. It concentrates the infusion, allowing you to re-infuse the same leaves over and over. Sip straight from the cup or decant into a separate cup, and you’ll enjoy stronger aromas, more full bodied taste, and a beautiful view of the leaves unfurling.
Pu-erh is the wine of the tea world: earthy, strong, and complex. Infuse the same tea leaves again and again to emit dark flavors of cedar forests, tobacco, bittersweet chocolate, and espresso. An epicurean experience favored by coffee drinkers and wine connoisseurs.
Participants in the 3-day tour will get to meet the community of dedicated tea artisans in Hawaii, and:
- Participate in the harvesting, processing, and tasting of teas,
- Learn about the cultivation of tea, and how Hawaii’s pristine environment enables rare teas to flourish,
- Enjoy accommodations within Hawaii Volcanoes National Park amidst a stunning array of native forest, wildlife and cultural treasures,
- Delight in exotic and special tea-infused meals prepared by tea-loving culinary artists,
- Immerse the senses in nature and wellness activities,
- And much more!
Below are some photos of tea farmers Eva and Chiu, during one of Jesse’s tea trips to Hawaii:
Eat tea. Yes, that’s right. We love eating tea, when it comes to matcha that is. Matcha is the only tea we actually eat.
The finely milled powder from shade grown organic Japanese green tea whips up into a creamy delicious froth. And the effect? We describe it as somewhere between wheatgrass and and espresso. Caffeinated and robust, yet fresh and vegetal. Perfect for sleepy mornings or whenever you could use a boost of inspiration.
When the weather warms up, it’s a great time to chill your teas down. Did you know there’s more than one way to make chilled tea? The most common technique is to brew tea with hot water, then pour it over ice or refrigerate it. But you can also brew tea with cold water, which extracts more sweetness and yields a smoother body.
Cold-brewed Pineapple Coconut Oolong is our favorite warm weather refreshment. With a creamy flavor, heady tropical aroma, and natural sweetness, it goes down easy on those scorcher days.
Here’s how to cold-brew tea:
- Put about 2-6 teaspoons of tea in a glass jar or cup (fewer teaspoons for dense teas, more for fluffy teas like Pineapple Coconut)
- Add 8 ounces of water and refrigerate overnight, or for a minimum of four hours.
- Strain, and enjoy!
As you explore the world of tea, you’ll come to a point where you want something more. Something more exotic. Something that surprises. Something so delicious that your worries melt away leaving you squarely in the present moment, a cup in your hand and a smile playing on your lips.
That’s when it’s time to brew some Samovar Gyokuro—the fine wine of Japanese green tea.
Unlike most teas, Gyokuro is grown in the shade under straw mats for about 20 days prior to harvest. This stresses the plant and as it struggles to draw energy from the sun the chemistry of the leaves change. The result is higher levels of L-Theanine, responsible for increased mental clarity and focus, and a clear resonating note of the most unique of all flavors: umami.
If you are familiar with our standard brewing instructions (steeping one to two tbs. of tea in boiling water for 15-60 seconds) you’ll have to set them aside. They won’t help you here. Gyokuro has special leaves that you need to treat with extra gentle, loving care.
Watch Episode 9 from The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide To Tea, where Leo and I share a Gyokuro brewing and tasting session:
Two of the most common questions we hear are “What is the best way to brew my tea?” and “How should I taste tea to get the most out of it?” The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide To Tea video series covers these and a number of other topics: how to judge tea quality, what tea is, information on all tea varieties, and more.
How To Taste Tea The Samovar Way
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We are passionate about tea and committed to helping you find the best way to make tea a rewarding part of your life.
We often get questions about tea and we wanted to share the discussion with you so everyone can benefit. Here’s a question that came in this week from Doug in Tuscon, AZ about the difference between Samovar Tea Lounge tea and Teavana.
Subject: Samovar, Teavana, and other
Loving your website! I have been reading and learning more about tea (and coffee–go Blue Bottle). In Tucson we have an excellent Chinese Tea House and also a Teavana retail shop. However, I am curious about Samovar vs Teavana where equipment suggestions, tea ware available for purchase and the tea itself are concerned. They [Teavana] tout themselves as the ultimate in tea but in spite of finding their tea very satisfying I am not convinced that they are the true purveyors but rather a major chain doing quality work. Are you willing to speak to this? My wife and I are departing for a few days this weekend. Upon returning I will be spending more time on your site viewing the videos. Am considering the Ultimate Guide package/s. Have been reading Zen Habits for nearly a couple years now and have at least one of Leo’s books. We had a San Francisco trip planned in January that fell through. We will be making plans for a long-weekend visit as soon as we can. You are on the list of Must-See places.
Oh, also read 101 Cookbooks and Omnivore Books postings. Pitch Perfect Audio (Matt Rotunda) is one of my favorite audio shops and people in the US! I say this in hope that you understand my enthusiasm for the Bay Area and tea, as well as the sincerity of my question. It’s part of how I learn. You know, who to trust where the real information is concerned. Thanks for any help you can provide. Best, Doug (Douglas & Peggy, Tucson, AZ)
Thank you so much for taking the time to research us and to ask this great question. Tea has been growing like crazy in America, and as you can see in Tuscon, the number of options is growing quickly.
If there’s one thing I can say for certain about tea, it’s this: Tea is personal. We’ve got our opinions and perspectives, but I don’t assume they are right for everyone. Way to go for doing the research and making up your own mind on the subject.
Now’s Your Chance!
Try a flight of three top-quality pu-erhs at the Mission-Castro and Hayes/Hayes Valley Tea Lounges! This tea flight is a great opportunity to experience the complexities that make each tea uniquely delicious. And then there’s the chocolate.
Pu-erh Tea is the class of tea that is aged to perfection. It gets its name from the market of the city of Pu-erh, in Yunnan Province, China, where this tea was historically brought for sale from the more remote regions of the countryside where the tea is actually grown and processed. ?Authentic Pu-erh are made with Yunnan’s famous broad-leaf tea tree varietals. Unlike white, green, yellow, black, and most oolong teas, which are highly perishable and have a short shelf life, well-made pu-erh teas may be stored and aged for years of enjoyment.
There are two types of Pu-erh: Raw (or sheng) Pu-erh and Ripe (or shou) Pu-erh; both types of Pu-erh Tea (Raw and Cooked) are made with Sai qing “sun-cured green tea,” which is processed by withering, roasting, rolling, kneading and drying the leaves in the sun. Sheng Pu-erhs are aged naturally over time; Shou Pu-erhs are ripened using a modern, intentionally accelerated aging process.
We’re Here When You’re Ready For More
Tea is about slowing down and becoming more present. Tea is about paying attention to the little things because in the end, that’s all there is.
Continue Your Tea Journey
Engage all your senses as you learn the art and practice of tasting tea.
Continue Your Tea Journey
Searching for uniquely delicious tea-cocktails, I’ve tasted a lot of brews. Each tea adds distinct flavor and character. I love infusing our Jasmine Green for a floral burst and Earl Grey for citrus brightness. But my hands-down holiday favorite is a cold-brew infusion of vodka and our California Persian Black Tea. This magical combination of baby wild roses, citrusy bergamot and orange, and savory cardamom pods produces an amazing vodka tonic drink.
We call this drink “The Rosy Persian” and we brew it by the gallon for private events and parties.
- Pour 1 liter of the highest quality vodka you can find over 4 tablespoons of California Persian Black Tea.
- Steep in the refrigerator 8-12 hours.
- Strain out the leaves.
- Pour 1 ounce over ice in a cocktail glass, and add 2 ounces of tonic water.
Chai simply means “tea” in Hindi, and masala chai means “spiced tea”. Popular in India, where street vendors are kept busy serving up cups of masala chai all day long, this 5,000+ year old drink originated as an Ayurvedic tonic. Ginger to remove toxins, cinnamon to aid digestion, cardamom to improve circulation, and much more.
At Samovar Tea Lounge, we slow-cook our chai on the stove in the traditional manner, combining it with whole milk and substituting coconut palm nectar (lower-glycemic) for cane sugar. Making chai takes a few more minutes than steeping a regular cup of tea, but your efforts will be rewarded. Continue reading How to Make Masala Chai
In most cases, brewing the perfect cup of tea is as simple as adding boiling water to a couple tablespoons of tea and steeping for 15-45 seconds. While Russian tea needs a little more finesse, we’ve distilled the process to the essentials and the result is a superb black tea recipe that will dramatically improve your tea brewing vocabulary. Continue reading 5 Steps to the Ultimate Russian Tea
This week I want to introduce you to Samovar California Persian Organic Black Tea. A custom blend that we formulated here at Samovar Tea Lounge, you won’t find this modern take on classic Persian black tea anywhere else. This tea pays homage to the classic black tea scented with bergamot oil, jasmine flowers, and rose buds, but then kicks it up a notch with a dose of orange peel and cardamom seeds. I think you’ll love the resulting brew: soft floral and citrusy notes balanced by spicy, brisk undertones. Californian Persian is a versatile tea and fantastic to drink straight up, but it also works with a shot of milk and sugar–in essence, the Middle Eastern version of Earl Grey, another tea scented with the citrus fruit bergamot. Continue reading Introducing Californian Persian Black Tea
Water is life.
Our bodies are made up of mostly water.
The earth is mostly water.
Tea is just flavored water.
Water is life and it deserves special appreciation and attention.
We have so sadly abused this life giving elixir. We stuff it into plastic bottles. We chemically alter it by making it “smart.” We chlorinate and fluoridate it. We use it to wash road grime from our cars. We use it to cool nuclear reactors. We abuse it. We throw it away. We do not respect water. And without this liquid we can die in less than three days.
At Samovar Tea Lounge we do our best to acknowledge and appreciate this beverage. We realize that without it we have no business. Because of water, we brew great tea. We buy our groceries. We hydrate with Jasmine Green Tea after yoga class because we are so fortunate to be blessed with abundant, and good tasting, clean water.
This is not the case for so much of the world. Millions of people the world over do not have access to fresh, clean water. And so they die. That’s why great organizations like Charity Water exist. We are so blessed here, today.
Recently I had the chance to talk with Wu De, tea monk and founder of Global Tea Hut, about the importance and magic of water with tea. Check out the video below; we’ll also be posting three more conversations with Wu De to our blog in the coming days.
So please, join us at Samovar Tea Lounge by taking just a moment out of your next sip of tea, water, or even coffee, and offer up your own Water Prayer of Gratitude. And if you like, share your prayer with us in the comment section below.
For much of the West Coast, autumn is an extension of summer. In the Bay Area, September and October can be even more pleasant as the fog lifts and the sun shines through. But back in Boston, where I grew up, and in the more temperate parts of the States, fall is here, and fall means apples.
At Samovar Tea Lounge, we search far and wide to find the most delicious, most fragrant, hand-made artisan teas for our online and Tea Lounge customers. We’ve been at it again and I am excited to announce 12 spectacular new teas. I’d love to serve you up a steaming cup of your choosing, but since email has it’s limitations, I’ll have to settle for some pictures of the new selection. Continue reading 12 New Teas at Samovar Tea Lounge
Get 15-20% Off With Big Bags of Tea
Tea lovers have been asking for years, and finally we’ve done it. Big Bags of tea are now ready to go in our online store. If you really love your Earl Grey, you can now get it and many other favorites in 1 pound bags, or larger (no, not “tea bags,” but “Big Bulk Bags of Tea).
Here’s an easy tutorial on how to make tea ice popsicles and granitas (an Italian sweet that lies somewhere between sorbet and Italian ice).
First, brew your chosen tea at double strength (using twice the leaves you’d normally use). Strain your tea leaves. Then, add your preferred sweetener – and plenty of it! (As the tea freezes, it will lose a lot of the sweetness in the flavor.) We recommend coconut palm sugar, or if you’d like, you can also add flavor by blending in ingredients like lemon juice, mango nectar, finely chopped mint leaves, puréed strawberries or almond paste. No matter what you add, stir it in very well.
Continue reading How To Make Frozen Tea Treats
Iced tea lattes are a delicious summer treat. Here’s how to make your own awesome iced tea lattes at home:
1. Select a tea. Black teas are always a great choice though any strong-flavored tea works well. A lighter flavored tea such as green or white will be too mild to stand up to the addition of milk. However, an exception to the rule is the Sweet Matcha, which blends the rich buttery flavors of matcha green tea with milk.
Here are a few other teas that make great tea lattes:
Continue reading Cool Sweetness: How to Make Iced Tea Lattes
Tea tastes great hot or cold. During the warm summer months, our chilled teas are some of the most popular drinks on the menu. Here’s a quick intro to making your own refreshing chilled teas.
“The slow way”: brew your tea as you normally would, add sweetener such as coconut palm sugar if desired and then chill it until it’s cold. Add ice if desired and serve.
“The quick way”: brew the tea as you normally would, but make it twice as strong by either, a) halving the amount of water you use, or b) doubling the amount of tea leaves you use. Add sweetener if you like, then pour the hot tea over a cup/pitcher full of ice and serve cold.
Black tea is the most common tea to drink cold, but the chilled tea options are endless. Here are a few of our favorites:
Sweet Matcha Shake (called the Soy Matcha Latte at the Tea Lounges)
Check out our tea store and start chilling out!