Pretty much since the first Samovar Tea Lounge opened in the Castro a few years back, I’ve been a devotee. I figured anyone as dedicated to introducing the art of tea from cultures around the globe as Jessie (the owner) is–in a cursed location in the midst of the dot-bomb era, no less–deserved my patronage. And he instantly earned my devotion.
On a recent afternoon, I snuck away from the piles of paperwork and untended emails that perpetually haunt me to luncheon at the new ‘Zen Valley’ location on the border of Hayes Valley. Like the other Samovar spots, this one has lots of gorgeous light and a chill vibe. The added dose of mellow from the Zen Center across the street makes it an even more tranquil locale and a new favorite hangout when I want to check out for a spell. Not only is the tea menu extensive and carefully selected, the tasty food pairs beautifully with the teas. I noshed on the curried egg sandwich accompanied by this bright, refreshing, berry/herbal Schizandra infusion iced tea. It’s described as a 2000 year old “adaptogenic tonic” that ‘gives you whatever you need: energy, relaxation, beauty, sexual prowess…’ I figured I couldn’t really lose.