Today I’m savoring our Monkey Picked Iron Goddess of Mercy Oolong. A clean, robust infusion with woodsy high notes and deep baked apple undertones. As our description for this tea says: “Sip. Penetrate your issues. Dissolve them.” This is the way of tea and the way of business for us at Samovar Tea Lounge.
It’s easy to see tea as a simple commodity; a utilitarian item you keep on hand for occasional enjoyment and/or health benefits. It’s so easy to forget what went into giving you the perfect cup of tea that you may be sipping even this moment:
The soil, water, and air that nourish the tea plants and help them to put forth fresh buds each season.
The farmers, who work so diligently to grow the tea plants and to coax out the leaves’ full potential for flavor and aroma.
The servers at the Tea Lounges who share their passion for tea every day.
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.
Creating Something Special
Customers thank us every day for the peace that Samovar Tea Lounge brings them. We are so grateful to be doing what we do.
But when I step back to survey the magic that happens at Samovar, I realize the real superhero is you.
You are the one who took time to meet with an old friend. You are the one set aside work to savor a dish of smoked duck and poached eggs. You are the one who chose to reach out to an estranged family member and reconnect over a pot of tea.
All we do is offer a space for the alchemy to take place.
Check out our new video showing how we can help you create a magical moment for your next celebration:
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!
Sometimes when I’m at the Tea Lounges and have a moment to myself, I like to sit at a remote corner table and pretend to be a customer. Then I just observe. I never tire of watching haggard, stressed out people plop themselves down, then slowly transform as they experience our warming teas and nourishing food. Watching their eyes get clearer and suddenly seeing – actually seeing – the person sitting across the table from them, and connecting with them for one quiet moment.
I also count how many people are twiddling away on their phones while eating, barely tasting their food or talking to their companions. I’m not against technology at all—I have as much tech as the next guy in San Francisco. The tools of today allow us this unprecedented ability to create movements and organizations and companies, and art. Continue reading Hugging a Lion: How to Embrace Technology Without Getting Eaten Alive
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
Engage all your senses as you learn the art and practice of tasting tea. Enter your email and we’ll send you details to unlock this episode, for FREE.
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So where are we headed now?
Joshua Jacobs, who works on Special Ops for us at Samovar Tea Lounge, has been a key collaborator for the last 12 months, and he has some interesting ideas on this subject. Rather than speak for him, I invited him to write a guest post here and share his perspective.
Recognize the last name? Yup, he’s my brother. But don’t think that means I’ve been easy on him—I’ve already fired him three times…
Best Practice #1: Never Trust A Best Practice
Best practices only make sense within a particular context. Applied in the wrong context, they’ll produce horrid results. The best practices at Google bear almost no resemblance to the best practices at a 3-person app development shop. Change the context and the governing rules also change, making all “best practices” worthless unless they are tailored to the situation.
And the consequences are huge. It’s why the Luddites could not stop the industrialization of their craft. It’s why telephone operators were replaced by Cisco routers. It’s why Borders and Blockbuster went bankrupt.
The Ages of our civilization don’t end; they evolve. First slowly and with incredible resistance, and then faster and faster until the cycle is complete.
The fact is, the Information Age has already evolved into a new era. How do I know? By looking at the results.
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.
We live in a culture that denies fear. I guess that’s not surprising considering how uncomfortable cold, raw fear is. But it’s a disservice because if there’s one thing I know for sure it’s that you cannot run from fear, and you definitely cannot hide.
Before Samovar Tea Lounge, I had a “killer” job in high-tech. My fear then was that I would never leave. Golden handcuffs bound me 10 hours a day to a life that was compromised. Uninspired. After I finally drew the courage to change and started Samovar, customers would walk in asking for coffee, or if we were a Chinese restaurant—and leave me haunted by visions of it all coming crashing down.
Nothing sets tone and atmosphere like music. It bypasses conscious thought and resonates at a deep, primordial level. So when you brew a pot of tea for yourself, or your friends, what do you put on?
A recent conversation on our Facebook Page turned up some recommendations that we need to followup on—and that we thought you might enjoy.
- Penguin Cafe Orchestra
- Andres Segovia
- Liquid Mind, by Chuck Wild
- Ray Lynch
- Spa Radio on Pandora
- 80’s ambient music: Brian Eno, Harold Budd, Laraaji
- Toumani Diabate
- Robbie Basho
- Argentine tango
- Spanish guitar
- Indian meditation drums
- Bonobo: Black Sands
- Elizabeth Fraser
- La folk atmosphérique de Mamer
- Cheb I Sabbah (on Pandora)
Tea Lounge Groove
Have you heard our very own audio soundtrack, ONE: Tea Lounge Groove? Join the Samovar Tea Lounge community and we’ll send you links to three of our favorite tracks.
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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
Jesse Jacobs, founder of Samovar Tea Lounge, shares about Samovar’s mission and vision in this video interview by Life & Thyme.
Continue reading A Look Into Samovar Tea Lounge by Life & Thyme
In this video Jesse Jacobs, founder of Samovar Tea Lounge, talks about tea and entrepreneurship with Jonathan Fields, host of The Good Life Project.
Tim Ferriss and Jesse Jacobs, founder of Samovar Tea Lounge, chat about tea, cooking, and how to become a world-class learner.
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.
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If you own a pair of shoes, sneakers, or sandals you probably know about Zappos.com. Or, if you read the great book Delivering Happiness, then you also know Zappos.com. In this episode I meet with Tony Hsieh, CEO of this amazing company that offers so much more than just shoes. We aren’t at Samovar in this episode, so there’s no tea. However, if we were drinking tea, I would have brewed Blood Orange Puerh for Tony, and Jasmine Pearl for me. Tony is a really inspiring guy, so listen to his insights on what makes Zappos so special, and what it means to be happy at work, and in life.
Note: the video is edited down to 10 minutes, but you can listen to the full 30 minute audio interview on iTunes. Continue reading Tea with Tony Hsieh: Jasmine Pearl, Blood Orange Puerh
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Meet best selling author and Integrative Health leader Dr. Andrew Weil, and tech entrepreneur Kevin Rose and take time for tea with these two accomplished and inspiring guys. We talk about why tea is healthy for the mind, body and spirit, what kinds of rituals work for being healthy and “getting things done,” and why tea is all the rage in the tech community.
- Guests: Dr. Andrew Weil, Kevin Rose
- Featured Teas: Palace Puerh, Green Ecstacy, Ocean of Widsom
- Get the music here: One Tea lounge Groove Continue reading Tea with Dr. Andrew Weil and Kevin Rose: Royal Palace, Green Ecstasy, Ocean of Wisdom
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
Virtually everyone you know uses craigslist.org. Now you can meet the maker: Craig! Nocturnal Bliss is our tea of choice for this episode in which Craig discusses how he got started, and what he’s up to with craigslist.
Note: this video is edited to 10 minutes, but you can listen to the full 25-minute audio interview on iTunes.
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
My grandmother Muriel will soon turn 93. She’s living in LA now where she’s closer to her son and with much easier Winters than Minnesota where she spent most of her life. My Mom was flying in from Boston for a visit, so I decided it was time to pack up my family and drive down for a long weekend. It’s not a short drive, and I had to ignore a lot of urgent tasks that needed my attention, but spending time with my family, and making sure that my son has memories of his great-grandmother is one way that I personally practice Positive Human Connection. Positive Human Connection is many things, but above all it’s about not waiting for a better time be present with those we love. It’s also the core principle and basis for my company, Samovar Tea Lounge.
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
After ten years running Samovar Tea Lounge I’ve experienced many highs and my fair share of low points. The worst times were the periods of fear, uncertainty, and doubt–the three demons that eclipse goodness and hope, consuming everything in their path as things that once seemed so sure and solid crumble to pieces.
Over the years I’ve had plenty of opportunity to look Fear in the eyes, and while it’s never been easy, with the guidance of mentors, friends, family, and a whole lot of reflection I’ve learned to stand my ground. Here’s what I’ve learned.
Face it down. Look it in the eyes. Call out what you feel: Fear? Say it. Anxiety? Say it. Anger? Say it and identify it. Running or squirming away from the feeling will only make it bigger.
This moment is the only moment. Do whatever it takes to become present. I like to pay attention to my breath. Inhale for an eight-count. Exhale for an eight-count. Repeat three or four times, increasing the length of both the in- and out-breath.
Seek the root.
What is causing this feeling? Is it a person? Is it money? Is it a predicament? By looking at the root of the fear, it naturally becomes more manageable, less nightmarish, and less emotional. It’s just a “thing,” not an all consuming emotion.
Continue reading How to Face Down Fear
Tim and I have tea and talk creativity, motivation, inspiration, and a bit of tech. In this episode we connect over a pot of Nishi First Flush organic green tea, which is super healthy, and talk about the creative process and how to get over fear. Stay tuned for an upcoming episode dedicated to his newest book, The Four Hour Body.
Note: the video is edited down to 10 minutes, but you can listen to the full 1.5 hour audio interview on iTunes.
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).