Samovar Tea Lounge in San Francisco

Earlier this month, I shared a recipe for Russian Tea inspired by the Sochi Olympics.  A good black tea infused with homemade blackberry jam is a simple, straightforward way to drink tea as the Russians do: with full flavor and a maximum amount of caffeine!

Today I’m sharing with you the inspiration behind my Russian Tea post:  Samovar Tea Lounge in San Francisco.  San Francisco is known for their tart sourdough, rich chocolates, and fresh clam chowder, but what they should also be known for is their tea!

Tucked away in the Yerba Buena Gardens not far from Union Square is Samovar Tea Lounge.  A tea experience at Samovar is rooted in a deep reverence for all aspects of tea.  Amidst the techno music and urban vibes, they’ve managed to marry the ritualistic with the casual here.

Notice that Samovar isn’t called a tea room…it’s called a tea lounge.   This wouldn’t be such an important difference except that is it is unlike other places that serve tea or afternoon tea.  Samovar is not a tea establishment of the “pinkies up” variety.  Samovar is modern, eclectic, and undeniably masculine.

From how the tea is sourced to how thoughtfully each cup is brewed, every aspect of drinking tea at Samovar speaks of respect and appreciation for the ancient beverage.  The staff at Samovar are extremely knowledgeable and friendly, as if they are sharing their tea with you, not just serving you.  Tea is brought to your table and placed front and center, with food items placed at the sides.  This way, there’s no way to deny that tea is the real star of the show.  My choice?  Tolstoy’s Sip, a mix of Lapsang Souchong, Lychee Black, and English Breakfast teas…I needed a boost after all that shopping in Union Square!

They offer 7 tea services at Samovar, each themed according to a country’s tea customs and foods.  And although their scones are delicious, we aren’t talking just scones here!  Depending on which place you want to take your taste buds on a culinary vacation to, Samovar has a tea-inspired meal for you.

From Japanese seaweed salad to Indian curry to Russian pickled eggs, the tea foods at Samovar definitely won’t leave you bored.   And for those who are just wanting a taste and not a full tea service, there are other light food items to choose from, some for pairing with tea and others infused with it, like my husband’s choice of a green tea mousse.It’s so hard to choose which tea to try at Samovar because they are all so rare and special.  Each tea is thoughtfully hand-blended in small batches.  Some of the best sellers at Samovar are their large selection of organic teas.

I walked away with their Apple Ginseng Oolong, a “love” tea of sorts, a blend inspired by Adam and Eve, brimming with sweet dried apples.  If you check out the Samovar site, they offer suggestions on what to serve with each of their unique teas.  Looks like I should be enjoying my Apple Ginseng Oolong with some French toast or chocolate cake!

The next time you are in San Francisco make some time to stop by Samovar Tea Lounge.  With 3 locations in the city, Samovar is the place to go to when you want to slow down, relax, and steep in the lifestyle of tea.  In the words of Jesse Jacobs, owner and creator of Samovar Tea Lounge, an experience at Samovar will remind you to “Drink Tea, Mindfully.”  Oh, and as a friendly reminder, don’t forget to turn off those cell phones!  After you sink into your second cup of Monkey Picked Oolong uninterrupted by the outside world, you’ll be wishing you were in distant lands picking your own oolong instead of having to rely on those monkeys (FYI, a monkey didn’t pick that oolong…it’s a myth)!