I am always intrigued by folks who follow their heart, who are passionate, and who believe in themselves enough to go give it a shot! Especially so, when it comes to the business of eating and drinking. Not the easiest of segments to be in, to survive, leave alone profitably. Samovar may well
be the exception.
“My vision is
to change the world one cup of tea at a time” says Jesse Jacobs of Samovar. Life is too short spent worrying.
Drinking Sipping a cup of tea allows one to be reflective, to slow down, to be in the moment. This simple ideal governs Samovar’s approach and extends it to what may seem ordinary on the outside: “ritual preparing, serving, and drinking tea reminds me to slow down, to let my senses take over,
and to let this moment flood the Now. The clatter of tea ware. The warmth of the cup. Hot steam swirling in the early morning sunlight
from a cup of brilliant green sencha.” as Jesse so eloquently puts it.
Samovar opened shop in 2001 during the dot com bust when things in the San Francisco area were all but written off. Today Samovar boasts 3 locations. The oldest started in 2001 is located
in the Mission-neighborhood. The other two locations are the Yerba Buena, and the San Francisco Zen center locations. The last one aptly so. Its a visit to the last of these, tucked away in a quiet residential neighborhood that opened my eyes
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to the art of tea – its preparation and drinking. The ambience is perfect, the service fantastic, and the tea worth the effort for the long drive from San Jose (it left me with a perfectly long return trip to contemplate!)
Samovar is all about knowing one’s essence. But it’s also about being one with the surroundings,
nature, our environment. This last piece that we are passionate about at 500Gallons is self evident when one takes a seat at the bar. Samovar’s bar is actually made of fallen redwood. Call it style with environmental substance. Apart from adding to the ambiance, it also goes to show the deeper connection with the environment envisaged by the owners. The menu itself is very inviting. From salads, to brunch, to sandwiches, to dessert they have it all covered.
More importantly the tea menu is expansive as one would expect. A variety ranging from white, to green, to Pu-erh, Herbals, Oolong, Chilled and Black. The human connection these tea varieties establish are bi-directional. Samovar sources its tea from small family farmers “artists of the leaves” as they call them.
Samovar is a true ambassador when it comes to spreading the goodness of tea and of living in harmony with the environment. The restrooms are equipped with hand driers. They perform monthly maintenance of equipment and facilities in their locations. This helps ensure they keep the outfit running optimally, and results in lowered energy consumption. Last but not least,
they ship their tea in compostable tea boxes. Yes they have moved away from shipping tea in (what is standard) metal containers. Made out of post consumer recycled cardboard and manufactured in origami-style folding cardboard box to hold tea, its also manufactured in the US. And because it comes flattened transporting it to Samovar so it can be packed with your favorite, fresh tea leaves takes even less energy. The compostable boxes contain a special kind of plastic liner bag to keep the tea airtight. And by the way it looks like plastic, but its not. It’s a wood based pulp that looks and acts like plastic, but that biodegrades.
Truly a coming together of a great idea, an equally commendable ethic and thoughtful execution defines Samovar. If you are in the neighborhood, or want some time to reflect, or heck even if you just want to soak in the moment as you read the leaves, we
recommend Samovar. Your senses will be heightened even as you subdue the wandering mind.