Get SF Weekly Newsletters
Pin It

Samovar Tea Lounge Sets Tone for New Wave of Fancy Tea 

Wednesday, Jul 2 2014
Comments

Of all the design elements the world needs to see more of, travertine has got to be one. The off-white porous limestone formed the crux of the International Style, and now it's back in the new Samovar on Valencia Street. It is a high-concept space, designed to wow you just as those barn-like Third Wave coffee roasteries do.

To be clear, this tea lounge is absolutely nothing like the other three Samovars. With speakers suspended from the ceiling, rough-hewn stone, and a bench made of lovely travertine, it's cool and minimalist without being off-putting. In fact, the entire design concept was developed around the smallest bit of it: the mugs. They're thick and heavy, cool if full of iced tea, warm if full of hot tea, and they come with graphically pleasing coasters.

As far as the tea goes, even though there are multiple infusion devices — which are somewhat entrancing to watch in action — and a large staff to operate them, the menu is actually quite small. Although iced beverage season is short and fitful in S.F., anyone feeling in need of a cool drink on a hot afternoon should check out the Rosie Palmer, a sweet-but-not-too-sweet iced tea of surprising depth. The spearmint-sage herbal green tea is wonderfully restorative as well, but if you have a hankering for something a little more advanced, the "Green Ecstasy" (Japanese sencha with matcha powder) is bitter and buttery.

For nibbles, you have a choice between a sweet and a savory scone; that is all. And there is no wifi or much of an invitation to linger, apart from getting hypnotized by the machinery. Prices are around what you'd pay for high-end drip coffee, which is going to come off as an act of trolling Valencia Street to some people. But this Samovar takes tea in a whole new direction. It is unique.

About The Author

Pete Kane

Pete Kane

Bio:
Pete Kane is a total gaylord who is trying to get to every national park before age 40

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Slideshows

  • 24th Annual Autumn Moon Festival
    Crowds gathered September 6-7 for the 24th Annual Autumn Moon Festival in Chinatown. Visitors enjoyed arts, crafts, cultural exhibits, food and a dog fashion show. Photographs by Dhoryan Rizo.
  • Felton: Touring the Redwoods
    Blue skies meet redwood canopies in the mountain town of Felton, located just north of Santa Cruz on Highway 9. Once a bustling logging community, the town is now a mix of mellow locals and serene wilderness. Visitors can enjoy the redwoods in nearby Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park and splash in swimming holes in the San Lorenzo River. For a bite to eat stop by Rocky’s Cafe for fruit-laden pancakes, barbeque at the Cowboy Bar & Grill and poolside burgers at the Trout Farm Inn. Other stops worth checking out include Roaring Camp Railroads, the Mount Hermon zip line tour, and the educational Bigfoot Discovery Museum. For beer or cocktails a log cabin bar has you covered.

Popular Stories

  1. Most Popular Stories
  2. Stories You Missed