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2 Secrets to Brewing Better Tea

The best tasting water comes directly from a remote hole in the ground. Fresh from the earth.

People often ask “How do I brew tea?”

To answer that, let’s first answer the question “Why should I brew tea?”

The simple act of brewing, and sipping tea is a training ground for living better. The ability to focus on doing just one thing at a time, to be present, and to embrace and enjoy the basic actions of boiling water, steeping leaves and paying attention to the taste and aroma are valuable skills to living more effectively and fully. After all, if you can boil, steep, and sip tea fully aware, then you can take that same skill and apply it to writing a report, playing with kids, and hanging out with friends. If you can’t be present and aware with tea, then you probably aren’t as effective when doing work, or as loving when with your partner, or as fun when with friends.

Why brew tea? Brew tea to practice being focused and present. Focus and presence are keys to fulfillment and connection and delivering results.

How do you brew tea? It’s really simple.

Continue reading 2 Secrets to Brewing Better Tea

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How to Make a Matcha Shake

The Soy Matcha Shake has been a longtime favorite at the Lounges. Now we’re excited to make the Samovar Sweet Matcha Shake Mix available through our online store.

To make a matcha shake:

Combine five ice cubes, one heaping tablespoon of Samovar Sweet Matcha Shake Mix, and eight ounces whole milk, soy milk, or almond milk. Blend or shake in a cocktail shaker. Pour into a chilled glass, straining out ice cubes. For a hot drink, steam or heat milk on stovetop, and stir in matcha mix.

 

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How to Taste Tea the Samovar Way

One of the great things about tea is that it taps into something very basic, human, and elemental. Good tea stimulates all of the senses. All of them.

Perhaps tea is so profound because, let’s face it, everything boils down to sex. 

Sight, sound, smell, touch, taste. Tea is in fact very sensual. It touches our senses and allows us to experience them more fully. Tea as a training ground for sensory stimulation, we can take the experience to every little thing in life. Learn to let the senses flourish with tea, and they’ll be blooming in other areas too. Perhaps tea is so profound because, let’s face it, everything boils down to sex.

Continue reading How to Taste Tea the Samovar Way

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How to Brew Green Ecstasy

first flush Japanese blended sencha with matcha

Green Ecstasy green tea is a new Samovar classic. A creamy, brothy, caffeinated-chlorophyll hit of deliciousness. Matcha-infused first flush Asamushi sencha to impart joy in every sip.

To Brew this tea:

1) Use delicious (filtered or spring) water, a “side-handled” Japanese kyusu teapot, and a decanting pitcher.

2) Add 1– 2 tablespoons of tea leaves to your teapot and barely cover them with room temperature water. Steep
for 2 minutes and decant to the empty pitcher.

3) Add water to fill the kyusu teapot. The temperature should be 170 –175° or “very warm but not hot” to the touch.

4) Steep for only 10 seconds. Empty this infusion to the decanting pot, mixing it with the first infusion.

5) Re-steep the leaves 1–3 more times (depending on desired strength) for 10 seconds each time, adding the infusions to the decanting pot.

Sip from pre-warmed teacups and enjoy! Experiment brewing with different amounts of tea, water temperature, and brew time. For more brewing tips, check out the How To section of our blog.

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How to Brew with a Gaiwan

1) Hot water, gaiwan, & cup
1) Hot water, gaiwan, & cup

2) Add 1-2 tablespoons of tea to the gaiwan
2) Add 1-2 tablespoons of tea

3) Add hot water
3) Add hot water

4) Cover the gaiwan and let brew for 15-30 sec.
4) Cover and steep for 15-30 sec.

5) Pour with index finger on top
5) Pour with index finger on top

6) Enjoy. Then repeat.
6) Enjoy. Then repeat.

Here is how we like to use this gaiwan (start with these guidelines, and then experiment on your own):

* Pre-warm the cup by adding some hot water to it, and then discarding that water
* Brew the tea directly in the cup by adding 2-3 tbsp of dry leaves
* Awaken the leaves. For oolongs and puerhs, cover the leaves with some hot water, and then immediately discard that first “rinsed” infusion. Leave the lid on the rinsed leaves
* Lift the gaiwan to your nose and tilt the lid open about 1/2” to release the aroma of the awakened leaves. Take it in. Inhale again and again, savoring this intoxicating scent
* Now add some hot water to these leaves, paddle them once or twice with the lid, and then replace the lid to let them steep about 30 seconds
* Tilt the lid back slightly and either start sipping directly from the gaiwan, or, decant the brew into another cup. At the lounges we use the Lotus Teacups for decanting. The teacups are great because the white color highlights the color of the tea, and allow the brew to cool just quick enough.

Experiment with both the quantity of tea and brewing time to find what works best for each tea. As a general guideline we suggest using 2-3 tablespoons of tea, and steeping the tea for just 20-30 seconds on the first infusion, extending the steeping time for each subsequent infusion. This method of brewing allows you to infuse the same tea leaves many times over, each infusion yielding a new and different experience.

All the teaware shown here is available in our online shop:

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Simple Brewing Tips For You

As whole leaf begins to replace the standard tea bag, one major question arises: How do I brew this tea?  There are hundreds of methods out there, some ancient, some new-age.  Here at Samovar, we don’t believe there is ONE correct style.  In fact, we encourage creativity and innovation of brewing methods.  It’s all good as long as good tea is being served.

Here are a few suggestions that we consider in our quest for brewing that perfect cup.    Continue reading Simple Brewing Tips For You

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How to Brew Tea

The Three Pillars of The Perfect Brew: Tea, Temperature & Time.

If you’ve read How Tea is Made, then the next question is perhaps, “Ok, how do I make a cup?”. This art involves the balancing of three variables: amount of tea, water temperature, and steeping time. Since flavor is subjective, only you can determine what the right recipe is for your palate.

To begin your experimentation, start with the following guidelines:

Tea. Use 1-2 tablespoons of tea per 8oz cup. Get the most flavor from your tea by using more tea for short steeping periods.

Temperature. Always start with the best tasting water you can find: filtered, spring, or even “mountain stream fresh.” Most of teas in our collection, are robust enough to handle boiling water, but do read the brewing notes for each tea. For example, we recommend brew Green Ecstasy with a mix of hot and cold water.

Time. Steep the first infusion for 15-30 seconds. The first infusion releases a wave of flavors which can be overpowering. Get to know

Repeat. Re-steep for 5-20 additional infusions, increasing the brew time to taste.

Expert Notes

  • For Pu-erh & Oolong teas: Awaken the leaves. Rinse leaves with boiling water prior to first infusion.
  • Experiment with water temperature. Start with a rolling boiling and then try different temperatures to get the flavor you like best.
  • Brew with a gaiwan for maximum effect.

 

 

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How to Brew Masala Chai

Our Organic Masala Chai has people from all over the Bay Area coming to the Lounges for that cozy, creamy, and dreamy experience. Our secret Masala Chai blend was created from a combination of several collected family recipes from across India.We use only organic whole spices and organic, whole-leaf black tea. The resulting drink is a perfect and flavorful balance of spice and tea… and totally addictive.

Here’s how to make the perfect, creamy, steamy cup of Chai:

  • Bring 2 cups water to a rolling boil.
  • Add 2 tablespoons sweetener (we like our Balinese Samovar Sweet Crystals because they’re healthy and good for the environment).
  • When sweetener is dissolved in boiling water, add 2 tablespoons Masala Chai + 1–2 tablespoons of your favorite black tea (add more black tea for more caffeine kick).
  • Boil together for 5 minutes.
  • Add 1 cup whole milk (or milk substitute). Bring to a boil again.
  • Remove from heat immediately (before it boils over).
  • Steep covered for 5 minutes.
  • Strain and enjoy!
  • Tastes great hot, or, chilled. Serves 2.

 

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Magic Matcha: From Tea Leaf to Green Tea to You

From Process to Ritual

Mystery hovers over this magical tea. Although not the most popular of green teas, it is likely the most exotic. Matcha’s unique processing begins with a shade grown tea leaf, yielding an intensely green, chlorophyll infused leaf. Once dried, the leaves are pulverized to dust between two large granite plates.

The magic of this tea is left to the user, making as big or as little ceremony as is necessary. To learn more about the history and ceremony, watch this video with Christy Bartlett of the San Francisco Uransenke Society. The joy of this tea happens not only in each sip but in the preparation. Hand-whisked with a bamboo chasen until soft green peaks form on its surface, this tea is blended, and not infused like other leaves.

Continue reading Magic Matcha: From Tea Leaf to Green Tea to You

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Video: Tea & Chocolate Pairing with Samovar and Charles Chocolates

Watch the Tea and Truffles Pairing with Samovar and Bay Area chocolatier Charles Chocolates. Jesse, founder of Samovar, and Chuck Siegal, founder of Charles Chocolates, discuss entrepreneurship, premium chocolate and teas, and what makes food and beverage companies like theirs unique.

Continue reading Video: Tea & Chocolate Pairing with Samovar and Charles Chocolates

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How to Make Tea Ice Cream

 

Samovar Masala Chai Ice Cream- To Die For!!!If you’re reading this, you probably love tea. Unless you hate sweets or cold things, you probably love ice cream. So… how about tea ice cream?

We’re not talking about some cheaply made, overly sweet stuff you paid too much for just because it’s a frozen, imported product. I’m talking about making the good stuff at home. It’s about as easy as making ice cream ever is, but the effort is oh-so-very worth it.

How to Make Tea Ice Cream

1. Select your tea. Anything that’s good as a tea latte is good as an ice cream. Some others will work, too.

2. Select an ice cream recipe as a base. * Vanilla ice cream recipes are the simplest to alter. If you want to get more creative with it, you can select a more complex flavor that pairs with your tea, like strawberry for Nishi Sencha Green Tea or chocolate for English Breakfast Black Tea.

3. Warm your cream or non-dairy alternative to your tea’s brewing temperature.

4. Infuse 3-4 teaspoons of tea in your cream or non-dairy cream for about 5 minutes.

5. Strain and chill.

6. Make the ice cream according to your recipe, replacing the cream/non-dairy alternative with your creamy tea infusion. Consider making it with slightly less sweetener and flavor (vanilla extract, cocoa powder, etc.) than the recipe calls for – it will get extra flavor from the tea.

 

Ice Cream Mix-Ins

If you want to get more creative with tea ice cream, you can add ingredients to the infusion or you can add mix-ins to your ice cream once it’s semi-solid. Try infusing organic rose petals with Samovar Moorish Mint or orange zest with Samovar Breakfast Blend.

For mix-ins, try crystallized ginger bits with Samovar Masala Chai, or fruit jam mixed into Tart Peach Black Tea ice cream just before it’s done.

If all of this sounds like a dream to you, but you have the feeling you’ll never have time to actually do it–not a problem! Use an electric spice grinder or coffee grinder to grind your tea into a powder and blend it into slightly softened ice cream. Or try a dash of matcha (powdered Japanese green tea).

 

Tea Simple Syrup

If you have time to cook, but don’t have an ice cream maker, you can make tea simple syrup (recipe below) and drizzle it over your ice cream. Here’s how:

Ingredients:

1 cup water
1 cup sugar
2 Tbsp loose leaf tea

Instructions:

1. Infuse 1-2 teaspoons of tea leaves in 8 oz. of boiling water for 3 minutes (use water below the boil, around 170 degrees, for green teas).
2. Strain the tealeaves.
3. Bring the tea to a boil.
4. Add the sugar.
5. Keep at a low boil, stirring often, until the mixture has become one cup of smooth syrup.
6. Chill.
7. Keep refrigerated in a sealed container and use within one month.

You can also use tea simple syrups for instant tea “sodas” and cocktails/mocktails, or as toppings for fruit salads, cakes and other sweet foods. Depending on the tea, it could even work as a sort of chutney/sweet marinade alternative for meats or tofu!

This post wraps up our series on ways to enjoy cold tea in hot weather. If you missed previous posts, check out the others on iced tea lattes, tea punches, iced tea, cold-brewed tea and frozen tea treats.

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Watermelon Tea Cocktail Recipe

Delicious Watermelon Tea Cocktail
Delicious Watermelon Tea Cocktail

Watermelon Tea Cocktail Recipe

As summer wanes, I’m still trying to capture the flavors that make it so delicious. I recently created this watermelon-tea cocktail. My husband says it tastes just like a watermelon Jolly Rancher. I think it tastes like the end of summer. Try it and let me know what you think!

*1/2 small, seedless watermelon, pureed and run through a fine mesh sieve for about 1.5 cups juice
*1.5 cups dry-yet-fruity white wine (like 2008 Pigmentum Ugni Blanc Colombard)
*1 cup Lobocha Fukamushi Sencha Japanese Green Tea, brewed and chilled
*Squeeze fresh lime juice

*Stir, chill and serve.

~Lindsey for Samovarlife

Lindsey “Vee” Goodwin is a professional tea writer and consultant. She founded Vee Tea, is a contributing editor to World Tea News, writes for non-industry publications about tea and writes web copy/press releases for tea companies. She is also a consultant to several tea companies and teaches about tea through staff training and individual/small group classes and tastings. Click here to reach her by email.

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Hawaii-Grown Tea Comes to Samovar and the USA

Hawaii-Grown Tea Comes to Samovar and the USA

In this video:
For the fist time in the continental U.S.: Hand-Picked, Artisan, Whole-leaf tea grown in America.
Hawaii-Grown Oolong Tea: Semi Oxidized Tea
Hawaii-Grown Black Tea: Fully-Oxidized
Only 15 pounds of each tea is available through Samovar Tea Lounge.

Jesse demonstrates the unique Brewing Technique for these teas.
To Brew:
Quantity: Steep 2-3 heaping tablespoons of tea in 14 oz.- 16oz  of water
Water Temperature: 195 degrees Fahrenheit
Steep Time: 2-5 minutes (depending on strength desired)
Leave the leaves in the pot

Other Teas Mentioned in this Video:
Japanese Senchas
Phoenix Oolong

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Herbal Blend Tasting

Herbal Blend Tasting

Samovar Tea Lounge has some of the most delicious Herbal and Tea Blends out there. Have you ever wondered how Samovar chooses which teas and herbals to serve?

Join Jesse Jacobs and Erick Xicum as they taste variations of 3 herbal blends and decide which botanicals will win Samovar’s seal of  approval and be sold and served at Samovar Tea Lounge. The three (soon to be for sale) herbal blends featured in this tasting are 1) Rooibos and Yerba Maté Blend 2) Wei Chi Cha Herbal Blend and 3) Kukicha Twig Tea and Yerba Maté Blend

Learn about how Samovar evaluates and tastes teas by observing 4 characteristics:
1)The aroma
2) The body
3)The flavor
4) The aftertaste

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Stir It Up: Tea Punches – Something Cool for Summer

Fruit and Tea Punch
Berries, Citrus, Mint, and Tea

Tea and punch have a long history together. Some say punch originated in India, where it was made from five key ingredients. (In

Hindi, the word for five is “panch.” Many think this is where the word “punch” originated.)

These five key ingredients were: lemon or lime juice, sugar, water, liquor and vaguely defined “spice,” which could mean something we currently think of as “spice” (like nutmeg), something we would probably shun today (like a whale secretion that’s only used is perfume these days), or (yes, yes) tea.

Continue reading Stir It Up: Tea Punches – Something Cool for Summer

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Water for Tea (Part III)

Great tea requires artful preparation, the highest quality tea leaves, and pure water.
Great tea requires artful preparation, the highest quality tea leaves, and pure water.

Water temperature also influences the final cup, and tea masters are vigilant about heating their water optimally to match the tea they are brewing. However, they determine the “readiness” of the water in different ways-visually, auditorially, and electronically.

Some look for visual signs of the water temperature to determine when the water is heated properly for the particular tea they intend to brew.

You may have heard tea masters talk about looking for “fish eyes” in the water.  This is when medium bubbles form just before the water moves towards a roiling boil.  This is when the water is ready for oolongs, generally.  The way the steam leaves the spout of the kettle—in wisps or in gusts–also signals the water’s readiness for some tea masters.

Continue reading Water for Tea (Part III)

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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)

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Water for Tea (Part I)

Great tea begins with great water.
Great tea begins with great water.

Jennifer Leigh Sauer brings our attention to the elemental ingredient in great tea: water. “Before tea there is water.  While you invest time and money to procure great tea, you might also want to consider your investment in “gathering” and brewing water for tea.

Before tea there is water.  While you invest time and money to procure great tea, you might also want to consider your investment in “gathering” and brewing water for tea.

Any cup of tea will be at its best when you use the finest water available, heated to the optimal temperature for the particular tea.

While I don’t profess to be a tea master, I’ve made it my life’s work for the past three years or so to research tea for my book and blog by interviewing great tea masters.  They all have different preferences and standards when it comes to water, and I’ll share with you some of what I have learned from them.

Continue reading Water for Tea (Part I)

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St. Patrick’s Day Green Tea Cocktail

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

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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….

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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!

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David Lee Hoffman, Tea Pioneer: Part I

David Lee Hoffman: Part of the beauty of tea is you can get so many different tastes and sensations with it. Almost emotion, each tea has a different emotion and personality. And you could shape that personality, you could play with it, depending on how you steep it, and the water, and the temperature, time, and the quantity of leaf you put in, it all has a contribution to the shape that you want to give that tea. Continue reading David Lee Hoffman, Tea Pioneer: Part I

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David Lee Hoffman Sipping Peace: Part II

American tea pioneer David Lee Hoffman discusses puerh, the Slow Food tea movement, and the benefits of organic, handcrafted family-made tea.
– Living with tea kings, learning to taste fine tea
– How To: Artisan tea crafting and family operations, and secrets
– Making American Handcrafted Puerhs
– Slow Food and the Fair Trade movement and tea
– Culinary pleasures of tea and living slowly
– Tea as an affordable path to world peace

Teas in this video… Puerh , Ancient Tea

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Organic Tea in Japan: Challenges Today

Ayumi Kinezuka visits us from Japan to talk about her organic tea farm in Shizuoka, and the challenges facing small artisan Japanese tea farmers today.
– Meet the family: an entire production from a small family operation
– Where are today’s generation of organic tea farmers? Challenges with aging tea farmers means fewer farmers making high-grade Japanese green tea
– Big beverage companies offering bottled green tea replaces Slow Tea
– Big business lacks microenvironment knowledge to manage small organic farms
– How can a consumer make a difference

Check out the Teas in this video…Organic Tea, Green Tea, and Fair Trade Tea.

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Slow Tea with Alice at Modern Tea

San Francisco tea-entrepreneur and owner of Modern Tea, Alice Cravens discusses her Slow Food Farmer’s Market philosophy, discussing challenges and opportunities to growers, distributors and sellers of organic food and tea.
– Organic, seasonal, artisan food philosophy at Modern Tea
– About the Slow Food Movement and why it’s important
– How to make a difference: visit a local farmer’s market
– Fair Trade Today, challenges and opportunities
– The environmental impact of importing tea to America

Teas in this video… Fair Trade Tea and Organic Tea.