A Stage for the Theater of Tea

Samovar-Founder-Jesse-JacobsSAN FRANCISCO, Calif. — Samovar® Tea Lounge founder Jesse Jacobs believes that tea can be simple and accessible in a utilitarian setting like a modern coffee shop and still retain its authenticity.

“Drinking great tea should be an everyday habit,” said Jacobs who announced he will open a new Samovar® tea bar in May.

“Samovar should be touching a lot more people without resorting to mass market commoditization,” he said, drawing his inspiration from Third Wave coffee shops.

In the 13 years since it was founded Samovar has expanded to three tea lounges. Jacobs now employs almost 100. Business is good with on-site and online sales exceeding $3 million. His refuges from the urban pace are praised by customers and national media from Forbes to WIRED.

Jacobs has shown us the tranquility of tea. His 1,500 sq. ft. lounges feature massive redwood bars and outside seating with inside nooks and long low tables, floor cushions and comfortable chairs for relaxing. Customers order a pot from a 100 selections and linger an hour in conversation. In contrast the tea bar will have bench seating and no wi-fi and a carefully curated list of the best quality tea, fresh and in season.

“Tea should be a daily habit not a monthly luxury,” he said.

The 600 sq. ft. tea bar will be located at 411 Valencia St. (@15th Street). It seats 10 and is LOGO_SamovarTeaBardesigned as “a stage for the theater of tea,” he said.

Simplicity makes retailing tea more affordable. His tea bar will offer only 5 to 10 teas ranging in price from $3 to $5 a cup and sold with freshly baked scones ($4). The shop is just down the street from Jeremy Tooker’s Four Barrel Coffee, a Third-Wave shop with a roastery. Tooker shuns wireless service in favor of friendly conversation at benches that seat the whole team.

Samovar’s first-of-its-kind space, introduces third wave approach to tea, said Jacobs. His selection of teas offers an authentic alternative to coffee and mass-produced flavored teas, introducing meticulously sourced craft tea to San Francisco.

“I love tea,” said Jacobs, “and after visiting the top coffee spots around the country, I realized that exceptional artisan tea is not accessible to beverage aficionados in the same way as coffee.”

Jacobs is an expert a sourcing and blending. He custom blended tea for His Holiness The Dalai Lama (“Ocean of Wisdom”) and negotiated an exclusive partnership with the Hawaii Tea Society for extremely rare tea Made in America. Samovar is the first tea company to use 100% compostable packaging for their retail line of teas, he said.

Seasonal cold-brewed iced teas and antioxidant-rich Matcha shots will be available, and cups of tea can be enjoyed on site or taken to-go.

This shop is all about speed. A dip from the chai caldron and you can be on your way, he says. The authentic chai is blended and brewed and cooked fresh all day like you find on the streets of New Delhi or Mumbai.

Samovar is introducing stainless steel and glass brewing vessels that agitate the tea, he said. The exposed kitchen aesthetic welcomes tea enthusiasts and the craft-inspired design is by acclaimed firm, Arcanum Architecture. The Valencia Street shop balances natural colors, stone, reclaimed wood, and concrete, he said.

The shop is designed as a stage for the brewing process, he said. Whether enjoying tea in the quiet comfort of his Zen Valley store or the bustle of the Mission District the task is the same: brewing the best cup of tea in the world.

Learn more: www.samovarlife.com