Samovar Tea Lounge – a little excessive at $10 for a cup of tea

Samovar Tea Lounge – Yerba Beuna Gardens, 730 Howard Street, San Francisco.

My friend V was in town visiting from Sydney and we both love tea. High tea has often been a ritual of ours, so after a visit to Alcatraz, we decided to relax over some tea at Samovar Tea Lounge. Our friend had recommended it to us the night before, so we headed towards the Yerba Beuna Gardens and proceeded to the rooftop where this beautiful tea lounge was located. Amazing location.

A samovar is a heated metal container used to heat and boil water in Russia and other Central, South-Eastern, Eastern European countries and the Middle East. There was a samovar by the entrance of the lounge. The lounge itself was zen-like, both inside and outside.

Clockwise from top left: sign by the entrance, a samovar, the beautiful interior, lounges outside overlooking the gardens

We got a tea and scone each:

  • “Blood Orange” ($9) – Blood orange rind and pile-fermented pu-erh deliver notes of wet-redwood and stewed-citrus. Intricately pleasurable, a brew as wide as it is deep: from the forest floor in Yunnan, China, to the Tarocco orange groves in Italy. I liked this tea, although tea was too “black” – not enough blood orange for me. We had two different waitresses – one said she liked this steeped for a long period, while the second said she liked it steeped very quickly and proceeded to pour the tea without asking about my preference. I actually preferred it steeped for a long time so the blood orange flavour could come out.
  • “Californian Persian” ($10) – After ten years and hundreds of tastings, Samovar’s Persian tea has arrived.Yes it’s brisk. Fully oxidized black tea, cardamom, orange peel and baby wild roses.Transportive, the line blurs between California 21st century and Persepolis 465 BC. This tea was divine – the Persian spices and orange and rose flavours perfectly balanced the black tea.
  • Cherry Oat Scone with Devonshire Cream & Jam ($5). This was the best scone I have ever had! Yes, better than any scone I’ve had in England itself. We noted that scones in the US are shaped in a triangle – as opposed to English scones which are round. This scone was just divine – the outside was crispy but the inside was light and fluffy and you could taste both the cherry and oat distinctly. The cream and jam were both perfect with the scone. Bravo!

Clockwise from left: the extensive menu, cherry & oat scone, our teas

“Blood Orange” tea, “Californian Persian” tea

the verdict: 7/10 – while the tea and scones were absolutely delicious, i’m still in shock that a cup of tea can cost $10, especially in the US. very poor value for money.

don’t forget to order: the Californian Persian tea and the cherry oat scone

to try next time: the food & tea menu – apparently much better value!

Samovar Tea Lounge on Urbanspoon


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