Samovar Tea Lounge - Zen Valley in San Francisco, California
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While on vacation in San Francisco we visited Samovar Tea Lounge – Zen Valley for dinner on Saurday night.

I ordered the Maiden’s Ecstasy Pu-Erh Tea with Squash Dumplings w/ Dipping Sauce (Handmade vegetarian squash dumplings w/ spicy sesame-soy sauce).

MilitiaJim ordered Breakfast Blend with the Wasabi Caesar Salad w/ Wild Smoked Salmon (Organic hearts of romaine, wild smoked salmon, shaved parmesan, garlic, croutons, & Caesar dressing w/ a wasabi kick).

We were seated in the upper area in the back at a table for two. The back area was dimly lit. The place was a very relaxed atmosphere with an attentive staff. We purchased a tin of Russian blend and tea oil to take home (sadly the tea oil was confiscated by the TSA because we forgot to mail it home or check a bag). The place was not very busy, there were two other couples there when we first arrived for dinner Saturday night.

I enjoyed the other Samovar lounge location (Yerba Buena Gardens) more and would prefer to return there rather than this one. We did not get to try the Mission-Castro location.

Wicked Grounds in San Francisco, California
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Serves loose leaf red blossom tea

On my first visit I got a waffle and tea, on my second visit i got tea and porn cake.

The staff was pleasant and helpful, the store was comfortable. I very much enjoyed the store and hope that I can go back. The atmosphere is very laid back, the furniture is random, assorted but comfortable. This is not a prim and proper place but more a nice local hodge podge where the time and effort go into the coffee, tea and baked goods rather than fancy furniture. There was a stack of games you could play available.

You are served a pot of tea with a cup, it’s a few cups worth in the pot. You can pull the leaves from the pot or let them steep.

Please note the cafe is 18+ only as it is a kinky cafe.

Harney & Sons SoHo in New York, New York
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This was the second stop on our visit to Manhattan, following sushi. We were not spending long so I was keeping each stop short. I also knew the boys were not going to be as excited about the tea as I was. Here MilitiaJim and I met up with two of his friends.

When I walked in there were fabulously high ceilings, teapots and art to my right with a cooler of ready made iced teas, a register station to the left, in front of me to the left a wall of tea – a HUGE wall of tea, in front of me to the right was a wall of tea. Fabulous!

Overall the store was skinny and long. There was enough room for the current customers, but I did have to detour around the two small tables they had between the two walls of tea at various points to dodge customers.

After the walls of tea were two sets of shelves with tea and books and other assorted items breaking the store apart from the café seating area.

If I had gone alone I would have stopped in the café, as it was I’ll reserve that for next time.

I went to the sampling bar and tried an assortment of teas; the samples were in no way skimpy. The adorable girl helping me looked very like my friend Fox, and it was a little surprising. She was able to point me at the Boston blend based on the tea selections I told her I liked from H&S. The store employees were helpful and knowledgeable and very welcoming. The samples were huge and beyond reasonable.

I did notice proper tasting brewers and cups and heard about a tasting flight. I wasn’t lingering so I didn’t ask how much that would cost but I am very interested in doing that on my next visit.

I then went to browse the wall of tea with the smaller tins and sachets. I am sure there was a pattern to the location of the tins but it was not spelled out (greens, whites, etc) and so I ended up going through the selection twice, once to read all the tins and once to make my selections for purchase.

This visit I picked up come holiday, Boston blend, dragon pearls, genmaicha, and the H&S guide to tea.

The bags are thick and have cloth handles, very worth of being a gift bag not just a shopping bag.

I can’t wait to go back!


The Tea Set in New York, New York
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MilitiaJim and I were only spending the afternoon in Manhattan, so we were only spending a small amount of time in each location. Two of MilitiaJim’s friends joined us for our trip around the city after we had sushi for lunch.

Our third and last stop of the night was at The Tea Set. We arrived, and the place was sadly empty of customers. When I first walked in there was a beautiful and colorful wall of tea tins on shelves in front of a lovely exposed brick wall. Sadly the picture of this did not come out well. If we were getting something to go we could have easily gone up to the counter and placed our order and waited in hat area without being in any patrons’ way.

The intimate and cozy store is great for sitting and chatting with friends.

I took the table near the window, where the Hanukkah menorah was there, a nice try though not done properly. I took the bench seating against the wall that had many pillows, and ordered a bottle of Champaign and two pound cakes. They make their whipped cream fresh and serve the pound cake with a strawberry. It was moist and delicious.

The menu was a little vague:
- Champagne Bottle… $59
- Champagne Bottle Pommery… $85
- Champagne Bottle Pommery Rose… $125
- Champagne Bottle Krug….. $325

Not that I know champagne well but for a champagne bar you would think there would be a list of today’s Champaign choices? For those who know what kinds they like (drier for example?)

So, we ended up with 2 bottles of Champaign. I think if it has just been the two of us I would have gotten one bottle and perhaps tried their tea and Champaign cocktail.

After all the drinking I got us 4 mugs of mango black tea. We’re large mango fans. The tea was served them in large double walled mugs with the laser cut infusers. There were more than enough leaves and you could steep them as long as you wished (I like this!). I also caused a bit of confusion asking to purchase a tin of mango, and have them steep up the same tea as it was not on the menu. I would think all teas for sale should be on the menu? We came to a compromise of them steeping up some from the sampler and not pillaging from my tin.

The tea was a nice translucent reddish brown color and tasted like sweet dried mango pieces in a medium bodied black tea. It was not as good as the thepuriTea mango black we adore so much but a good second place.

Overall the staff was helpful, and stayed out of our way while we chatted, drank, ate and had a great time! We never felt rushed.

I think next time we are in New York I might wish to do a brunch there with a mimosa and then some tea.

I had purchased a Fantasy Mango Souvenir, the shopping bag was a very unique bag made of recycled newsprint and twine! I do love when the bags are special.

Through the nice I got to have a quick chat with the owner, and the waiter. Both of them were very helpful and happy.

The owner stopped over to offer me a tin of berry or plum tea, I choose plum and was gifted a tin of the Topped Fresh Plum Pleasure! I can’t wait to try some. (If I get home on time tonight I can have it then.) An unnecessary and very kind gesture on his part.

The bill with tip came to a bit over 200$, more than I was planning to spend, but we also had twice as many people as I planned for. Keep in mind this is an expensive area, the price seems in line with the area. The tea was high quality, the Champaign was nice (not an expert), and the food was good. Nothing at all to complain about, I recommend you stop in.


Panama Hotel Tea & Coffee House in Seattle, Washington
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The tea was well prepared, no astringency or bitterness.

The store itself was roomy, bright, full of people quietly talking or working on laptops. There was a nice large selection of teas. I ordered a butter cookie and the oolong tea and sat for a few hours while reading my book and waiting to go to dinner and then the airport.

I never felt rushed, and the staff was friendly and helpful.

I highly recommend you visit this location if you find yourself in Seattle. I would like to thank Prashanthi of Makeda Coffee for this fabulous recommendation.


makeda coffee in Seattle, Washington
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Makeda Coffee
153 N. 78th St., Seattle, WA 98103

My plan was to arrive at 7am, I didn’t manage that, I arrived closer to 7:30.

I had to parallel park on the street, I didn’t see any signs about the
limitations of that parking, I’ve been having to parallel park my
entire visit to Seattle, I can not wait to get back home.

The location was off the main corner of the street and a bit farther
back on 78th than I was expecting. I believe it was the third store

Prashanthi was the only one working at that early hour on Saturday.
There was one or two other customers inside when I arrived, but as
time passed many more people kept arriving. Each person was greeted
and chatted with, most seemed to be regulars. Parents brought their
children, people came in with their well behaved dogs then sat out in
the outside seating. Overall the atmosphere was a happy, busy local
shop with tons of regulars. Everyone was happy, talkative, and
Prashanthi kept the conversations going asking about upcoming family
birthdays she knew about and other things showing off how connected
the shop is with it’s customers.

The store itself was skinny but long and comfortable. There was
quiet, upbeat, music playing at a volume that didn’t stop
conversations but also provided a nice backbeat to the place. The
store was all rich colors and art that made it a nice friendly
atmosphere. There was plenty of table seating, bar seating, and
outdoor seating. In the back was a comfortable couch and bookshelf
full of books. I noticed a sign advertising a board games night on
Fridays! Near the front door was used coffee grinds available for
everyone to take home for their compost or gardens. On the condiment
bar was a microwave and real silverware.

While talking with Prashanthi I found out she has worked for years in
the coffee shop industry, coming all the way from barista to assistant
store manager. She has a true passion for coffee and customer
service. She is very knowledgeable about the entire process of getting
the best cup of coffee and knows the importance of the (green) beans
themselves, the way they are roasted, and the way they are prepared.
She has always considered owning a coffee shop, and things happened to
line up a few years back enabling her to realize that. She is an east
coast transplant but seems to be thriving here on the west coast.

There was a large assortment of loose leaf teas, beers, wines,
pastries, and of course espresso beverages. Makeda sells only coffees
from Seven Roasters Coffee.

While there I watched her make many beverages for the other customers,
I failed to get photographs of some of the beautiful late art foam
patterns, but I can tell you each cup was carefully prepared. The
beans were ground fresh for each pull, and nothing sat – it was lovely
to watch the slow of the drinks being prepared in one well timed
seamless process.

I ordered an Assam large tea, and a buttermilk raspberry scone for
there. The pastry came on a colorful and sturdy plate, while the tea
arrived as hot water with a make your own paper teabag on the side in
a teabag dish. Bless her heart! This allowed me to make the tea
steeped to my desired strength, and she measured the leaf into the bag
for the amount of water poured. It may be called Makeda coffee but the
allow tea fanatics to get the best from their lovely loose leaf!

I let my tea steep for 1 minute and 30 seconds.

Color: Golden red-brown
Body: Medium
Tea Smell: Rich black tea
Taste: smooth, crisp, full black tea with no astringency and no bitterness

I thoroughly enjoyed my visit and plan to return before my trip home
tomorrow night. If you are ever in Seattle, although it’s outside
city center it is worth the trip to stop by this gem of a neighborhood
coffee shop.


The Random Tea Room & Curiosity Shop in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
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The Random Tea Room & Curiosity Shop Review
On June 28 there was a deal on to purchase $5 and get $10 worth of Tea OR $13 for a 20 minute Aromatherapy Massage ($26 value) at The Random Tea Room & Curiosity Shop ( I bought one of each.

The teashop is located 713 North 4th Street, Philadelphia PA 19123

On July 24th MilitiaJim and I went for some tea and snacks before going to Dorian’s Parlor (). We had also wanted to redeem the massage certificate but the masseuse was unavailable that day.

The place itself is a tiny thing, with a bar counter, and random furniture and art. A bit like dropping into the mad hatter’s grandmother’s place for tea. There was china and random interesting things all around. We ordered genmaicha and selected a pound cake and scone from the side table (serve yourself) for snacks. The tea came out in a glass teapot with two nice pottery cups. The place was not full but did have other customers the entire time we were there.

The genmaicha smelled seaweed, earthy
The taste was rice, vegetal and felt a little gritty, not in a bad way but textured and not silky butter
The after taste was like toasted rice
It had a medium body
The color was a translucent yellow-green has some great pictures:

Saturday July 31 MilitiaJim went back for his massage; it was an inverted massage, where you are on an incline, on your back where you feet are at the higher angle. It was interesting and relaxing but took some getting used to. He would get it again in addition to a normal massage but it is not a substitute. He also got a chai tea with his massage! After reading all the yelp reviews I wish I tried the chai, I’ll need to go back now.


Subtle Tea in New York, New York
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After MilitiaJim finished work he and I headed to SubtleTea for tea and dinner.

The store was skinny and long, and had tea for sale but I wasn’t quite sure how to buy it (ask the staff? Find a bag and bag it myself?)

There was a large communal table with power units and ipod chargers built in at above table height in neat pipes almost artistic. There were also plush little couch nooks.

MilitiaJim balked at paying nine dollars for a sandwich, so we just got tea.

The staff was happy and pleasant.

MilitiaJim ordered Almond Cookie

I ordered Vanilla Cream

MilitiaJim wanted something more sweet for his cookie drink and so added simple syrup to both of our drinks. Sweetening them up a bit. I don’t think it changed either flavor much.


Argo Tea Columbus Circle in New York, New York
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On my day of wandering around NYC I went to Argo Tea after my Starbucks breakfast.

Columbus Circle 1792 Broadway, New York, NY 10019 corner of Broadway & 58th St


I found it just fine, again a surprise due to my poor navigation skills.

The store was not busy, and it was right before lunch (10 am) so I was surprised, as it was a nice location. There were plenty of benches and tables, and two free hours of wifi with a purchase. There were a few other people sitting and sipping tea while surfing the Internet.

There was an island full of tea making merchandise (cups, tea kettles), and a wall of interesting bulk candy type tea dispensers, below them were some pre-packaged teas.

The staff was pleasant and amazingly helpful; they wanted to know if I wanted any help choosing a tea, and what other teas I liked.

I ordered the Carolina honey iced tea. It came out quickly and with a smile.

The tea was a dark yellow-brown color. It visually reminded me of a light wheat beer.

The taste was a mixture of mead and hefeweizen. I almost wanted to ask if it was alcoholic. There was a citrus flavor, perhaps a lemon-orange?

The after taste was an astringent honey.

I did spot in the impulse rack vogues chocolates. There was no bacon vogues though :( I purchased both a chai and ginger green chocolate bar to have as a snack later. If I were not heading to Alice’s for lunch I would have picked up one of their small snacks to gnosh on. Apparently these chocolates were made specifically for Argo teas. The green ginger one was a little spicy and odd, It wasn’t bad but I wouldn’t get it again. The chai one was delicious. There were two other flavors I believe available.

The total bill was around 10$

The Painted Tea Cup in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania
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For mother’s day my Uncle John had my family attend mother’s day tea at The Painted Tea Cup Tea Room
220 South State Road (was 127 S State Road)
Upper Darby, PA 19082
Hours of Operation: Tuesday — Saturday 10:00 am to 5:00 pm

Other reviews:

I drove there with my sister. The first problem I encountered was not finding parking; we drove around the neighborhood before finally parallel parking in front of a tiny store next to a tavern. It was closed! My mother called and told us to come a block down the road to a beautiful house that had its own parking. Apparently they had moved. We were a bit (15 minutes?) late for our 2 pm seating.

Next problem, the power was out! Despite this the high tea was still on, woo! Honestly they handled it so well I never would have guessed and would have assumed all the candles and darkness were for Victorian ambiance.

My maternal grandmother, grandfather, mother, uncle John, sister and myself were there. Unfortunately both my sister and grandfather are fussy eaters and missed out on many of the delicious items through the lunch.

Our tea selection was;

Queen Mary black tea-an English breakfast blend
This was a nice strong black tea, no astringency or bitterness
It stood up well to cream and sugar.
It was smooth and tasty, but nothing special when plain.
I enjoyed it with honey; it was then sweet and strong.
I also enjoyed it with lemon balm and a bit of sugar, much better than real lemon when I later added a dash of cream.

Green tea with strawberry and kiwi flavors
It tasted more like a tisane – a strong strawberry fruit blend flavor, couldn’t pick out the kiwi or green tea.

Decaffeinated English breakfast black tea
I declined to try the decaffeinated English breakfast, so sorry no reviews on that.

On the table we had available mints, sugar cubes, splenda, sweet and low, lemon wedges, lemon balm, honey, cream, jam, and crème fraiche.

Apparently there was going to be rooibos tisane but the power outage altered their plans.

Set at the table was strawberries and grapes on skewers (sorry forgot to get a photograph) arranged in lemon balm leaves for a delicious and pretty floral centerpiece.

Next up was peresca (spelling?) sparkling white wine, frozen strawberry and grenata (spelling?) in a Champaign glass. Dry, but fruity delicious.

Next served was raspberry whipped cream cheese on tea biscuits, sprinkled with powdered sugar with a side of frozen grapes. This was simple, tasty, but not anything remarkable.

The next course was an individual plate of many delicious items;
spinach and cheese quiche
chicken salad on spinach and a roll
pineapple mandarin orange jello
pumpkin bread
glazed lemon pound cake
cinnamon spice muffin
spinach artichoke mouse with a slice of tomato in ice cream cone
pumpernickel, watercress, radish sandwich
cucumber with rosemary on bread with mayo

I do hope all my notes are accurate, I was too busy gobbling down the filling and delicious foods. I was ready to pop when we left. In fact in many cases I had to nab my sister’s plate for pictures as I went about eating mine before I remembered to get a picture!

The dessert course contained;
fruit custard tart in filo type dough
cake, lemon curd, raspberry and Chambord drizzle
chocolate muffin cake with butter cream filling

The check was presented in a hand sewn billfold made of upholstery material with gold trim piping and a plate of chocolate truffles! (sorry forgot a picture of the billfold)

The owner had stashed up on many of the holiday Tea Forte assortments, and my mom purchased one (she has a love for the winter chai which is hard to get) along with some of the green tea with strawberry and kiwi for my sister.




I am The Devotea USA. I love caffeine! I prefer tea to coffee. I prefer my flavors to be in your face, not subtle. I plan to use this blog to keep track of the teas I have tried.

I get my daily dose of caffeine from Starbucks (Grande soy no water chai latte).

0-25=Bleh! not again if it were free
25-50=Acceptable, if it were free or there were limited other tea options
50-75=I might purchase this tea from time to time, or select it while out
75-100=A staple in our cupboard from now on, I will purchase and keep purchasing


Blacksburg, Virginia


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