Samovar Tea Lounge - Zen Valley in San Francisco, California
__Morgana__ rated this place
and said Edit

It’s somewhat inconceivable to me that I’ve only been to one Samovar Tea Lounge (this one) and then only once though I live in the Bay Area. But such is life when you live and work down the peninsula and have young kids. We hardly ever get up to “the city” and when we do, we are usually on a mission and time is tight.

One weekend about a year ago, we had taken the kids to the SF zoo and were deciding whether to have dinner before heading back home. My BF knew I’d been wanting to pay a visit to one of the Samovar locations for a long time and kindly suggested we make that our dinner destination.

What a lovely place. The atmosphere is so calming despite being full of people having lively conversation. We sat in the back and had dinner and enjoyed our tea. I wish I could remember exactly what we ate as it’s been a while now, but I think the kids had rice bowls (I distinctly remember the one with poached eggs), I had the smoked salmon salad, and the BF had the duck sandwich. I definitely remember the tea: one son had tea lemonade, the other had Moorish mint, the BF had tart peach and I had velvet cacoa pu-erh and golden phoenix. I wrote notes about the teas I drank so I won’t describe them here, but suffice it to say I have been wanting to go back since the minute we left!

Lisa's Tea Treasures in Menlo Park, California
__Morgana__ rated this place
and said Edit

This place will always be inextricably linked to the birth of my number 2 son, as it was the venue for my baby shower for that (now four-year-old) bundle of joy. I knew nothing from tea at the time, and I remember being totally baffled when my shower hostess asked me what tea to order. I, of course, being eight months pregnant, opted for something without caffeine. Somewhere I have the emails that would reveal my ultimate choice, but I’m not up to digging through to find it. It was a pleasant berry flavor as I recall.

The event I’ve described is the type of thing this place excels at. A small, intimate gathering of friends to celebrate a life event. I think we had 8 or 10 people, and that was about the size the room we were in could comfortably accomodate. Though others were having events in adjoining rooms, we were sufficiently, and as I recall, comfortably secluded. Of course, this should be taken in the context of my having a 20 month old at the time, so my views on what constituted noise and interruptions were somewhat skewed.

This place is right across from the CalTrain tracks at the Menlo station, but I don’t recall it being noisy. It’s a nice place to sit.

And by the way, I meant to give this 4 stars, not 5, simply because I am a curmudgeon when it comes to standards of perfection and though I’m willing to be swayed up one star for emotional attachment reasons, I am not willing to be swayed up 2. And yet, try as I might, I can’t turn off that 4th star. INTERFACE FAIL!



I got obsessed with tea in 2010 for a while, then other things intruded, then I cycled back to it. I seem to be continuing that in for a while, out for a while cycle. I have a short attention span, but no shortage of tea.

I’m a mom, writer, gamer, lawyer, reader, runner, traveler, and enjoyer of life, literature, art, music, thought and kindness, in no particular order. I write fantasy and science fiction under the name J. J. Roth.

Personal biases: I drink tea without additives. If a tea needs milk or sugar to improve its flavor, its unlikely I’ll rate it high. The exception is chai, which I drink with milk/sugar or substitute. Rooibos and honeybush were my gateway drugs, but as my tea skills and tastes developed they became far less appealing to me. I do not mix well with tulsi or yerba mate, and savory teas are more often a miss than a hit with me. That said, I’m not entirely a purist, and I enjoy a good flavored tea, particularly flavored blacks.

I like all kinds of tea depending on time of day, mood, and the amount of time I have to pay attention to preparation.

Since I find others’ rating legends helpful, I added my own. But I don’t really find myself hating most things I try.

I try to rate teas in relation to others of the same type, for example, Earl Greys against other Earl Greys. But if a tea rates very high with me, it’s a stand out against all other teas I’ve tried.

95-100 A once in a lifetime experience; the best there is

90-94 First rate; top notch; really terrific; will definitely buy more

80-89 Excellent; will likely buy more

70-79 Very good; would enjoy again, might buy again

60-69 Good; wouldn’t pass up if offered, but likely won’t buy again

Below 60 Meh, so-so, iffy, or ick. The lower the number, the closer to ick.

People have sent me tea on occasion, and I was once persuaded to send some Tazo Om to AmazonV. I’ve also done at least one group buy here on Steepster, the famous Doulton-led Dammann Freres experiment years ago. But mostly, I don’t swap. It’s nothing personal, it’s just that I have way more tea than any one person needs and am not lacking for new things to try. Also, I have way too much going on already in daily life and the additional commitment to get packages to people adds to my already high stress level. (Maybe it shouldn’t, but it does.)

That said, I enjoy reading folks’ notes, talking about what I drink, and getting to “know” people virtually here on Steepster so I can get ideas of other things I might want to try if I can ever again justify buying more tea. I also like keeping track of what I drink and what I thought about it, though I don’t put samples in my cupboard and not everything I have at any given time is showing in my cupboard. I do try to remember to remove things from my cupboard once I no longer have them.

I was an early internet adopter and have been online in various environments since around 1990. Steepster is one of the nicest online environments I’ve ever been privileged to participate in and that is saying something. :-)


Bay Area, California


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