Tea popsicles were ultimately deemed unmarketable due to widespread customer confusion at the Confucian proverbs printed on the sticks. Savor more traditional sips with today’s Groupon: for $25, you get $55 worth of tea service and café fare at Samovar Tea Lounge. This Groupon is valid at the Mission-Castro location on Sanchez Street or the Zen Valley location on Page Street.
Organic and fair-trade teas sourced from small family farms make their way the tranquil confines of Samovar Tea, begging to join the menu abundant in creative, globally inspired tea and cuisine pairings. Seven different pairings are on hand, hailing from myriad countries and cultures, including Japan, India, and a Paleolithic suburb of Pangaea. The Russian tea service matches zavarka-style tea with smoked fish with horseradish, tarragon-marinated beets, deviled eggs with caviar, and a chocolate brownie ($24). Should the Queen show up tableside, guests can quickly summon a traditional English black tea and the three-tiered platter of wild smoked salmon or shiitake mushroom quiche, fresh fruit, and a cherry oat scone ($22). The distinctive spices of the Mediterranean emerge in the Moorish tea service, which is filled out with vegetable kebabs, chèvre-stuffed dates, hummus, and a strong mint tea served on drag-racing camels ($22).
The Mission-Castro location fosters an aura of calm and tranquility, housing a vaulted seating area with a low wooden table, a resting Buddha statue, and round, black cushions that evoke the comforting charm of enormous Junior Mints. Zen Valley is steeped with serenity, encasing tea-takers in golden walls as servers dole out piping-hot tea and soothing mantras from a wide wooden bar.
Samovar Tea Lounge
Your senses seem stronger inside Samovar Tea Lounge. Warm sunlight streams through tall windows and hushed conversation mingles with the sound of tea flowing from nubbly iron kettles, their contents perfuming the air with hints of herbs, smoke, toasted rice, flowers, and revolutions in Boston. This is owner Jesse Jacobs' vision, what he describes on his website as "an escape from the overflow of information" into an intimate space for human interaction, carved out by the global ritual of sharing tea.
This global emphasis inspires an artisanal menu of small plates and sandwiches that could conceivably be served during tea services in India and Morocco, or, in a playful turn by the chef, the Paleolithic era. It is the tea, however, that enables guests to get acquainted with international terroir without sneaking small shrubs through customs. Small, family farms in countries including Kenya, Paraguay, and Nepal, many of them organic, send their whole-leaf brews to fill Samovar's carefully curated collection. Each of its three locations serves the entire menu, which is comprehensive enough to classify oolong and pu-erh separately and boast vintage blends dating back to 1989.