Samovar Tea Lounge

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93

If you told me five years ago that I’d intentionally buy something called Hibiscus Bliss, I would have said you were living in an alternate reality.

I am not sure exactly when I turned the corner on hibiscus. I used to think it was evil, and made everything it touched intolerably bitter. But somewhere along the line, I think during a very hot summer day when I desperately wanted something cold and flavored and happened to be in a Starbucks, I ordered whatever they had without caffeine that was iced, and it was a hibiscus drink. At that moment, I got religion.

Most of the time hibiscus doesn’t bother me now, and sometimes I even crave it. My taste buds have adapted, or changed, or something so that now the bitterness (if present) just tastes earthy, like a root vegetable.

This smells generically fruity in the bag. A little like grape, a little like cherry. There’s the characteristic hibiscus aroma, too. I can see the lemongrass, but I don’t really smell it.

After steeping, this is a dark, wine red and quite pretty. Steeped, it smells pretty much like it smelled unsteeped.

Flavor wise, it has a lot in common with other tropical blends that have hibiscus in them. I’m reminded of Tazo Passion and Teavana Caribbean Breeze both of which I like quite a bit, but both of which pale in comparison to the amazing complexity of this.

The hibiscus in this is not at all bitter. It may be that the pineapple and natural sweetness of the rooibos is counteracting any tendency in that direction. The flavor has a creamy vanilla overtone that is likely from the rooibos and otherwise has a gentle warm fruit punch aspect.

Somehow the master blenders at Samovar have managed to make something with lemongrass and licorice root not taste like either, but be reminiscent of both. Samovar’s blends always taste to me as though they’re made with very high quality ingredients, and this one is no exception.

A really awesome rooibos I will definitely restock as long as they make it available.

ETA: The licorice root comes out as the tea cools and then I start to like this less. Note to self: drink while hot. Cool, I’d give this more like an 85.

Flavors: Cherry, Citrus, Fruit Punch, Grapes, Hibiscus, Pineapple, Vanilla

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML
Mastress Alita

Aww ya, another on #TeamHibi! It gets so lonely over here…

derk

Three strong

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82

The best straight chamomile I ever had was Samovar’s back when they offered a straight chamomile. Everything else I’ve had, even the good ones, haven’t matched theirs.

What made it so good? For me, it was the creamy texture and the sweetness, that made the flowers seem fresh. I’ve had way too many chamomiles that taste sour, and the drink tastes like a bunch of old potpourri flowers accidentally fell into hot water.

So I was pretty excited to give this a try.

In the packet, I smell mostly spearmint and a hint of citrus. There’s the slightest, creamy smell that I hope is the chamomile.

The steeped tea looks just like its picture, and it has a wonderful minty/lemony smell that is intermingled with a sweet chamomile, green apple-like aroma.

Its a very nice rendition of chamomile with just enough going on to keep it me from dwelling on the chamomile aspect. It’s all the good things I remember about their straight chamomile, but with added interest that makes it a very relaxing option.

I kind of like it better than Yellow and Blue, and I liked that better than the straight chamomile.

Flavors: Green Apple, Lemon, Spearmint

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML

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99

Mostly what I smell upon opening the bag is mint. Very, very strong peppermint. If there is sage, spearmint, and lavender in there, I can’t smell it.

This herbal is a deep golden color, verging on rose gold and is clear. The aroma is minty, but also somewhat earthy which is the sage, I think. In the flavor, the sage is there around the edges, too — not overly strong, which is good because it would have been too savory for me.

I am puzzled as to why this is named spearmint sage instead of peppermint sage, though. I taste more peppermint than spearmint, though the aftertaste is more spearmint.

Like virtually every Samovar blend, this has a lot of complexity, but doesn’t come across as busy. It’s definitely got more and better flavor than many mint blends I have had. The mint isn’t too herby, and it isn’t fake tasting — the other ingredients keep it from being that way.

This also has a very refreshing coolness in the mouth that Samovar describes as menthol. I’d say the feel is menthol, but I don’t get the medicinal Vapor Rub-ness I get from methol, which is pretty remarkable.

I’d definitely keep this around for as long as they blend it. It’s the best mint I’ve had since Refresh, and while I adore Refresh, you can definitely taste the quality in this. Refresh makes an excellent every day choice, but this is something special.

Flavors: Earth, Peppermint, Sage, Spearmint

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML
derk

Did you taste much lemongrass? I see it’s listed in the ingredients but I’m really not a fan of lemongrass in teas. Otherwise, it sounds really good and I’m always looking for a good sage blend.

derk

Hm, bonus is it’s local so I can pick it up here! I’m centrally located between the three in the city. Which one to go to??

__Morgana__

I don’t taste lemongrass, but I don’t taste a ton of sage either. Everything other than the mint is more of a synergistic effect that adds depth and interest to the mint. Refresh has tarragon in it, but it’s the same thing there —the tarragon is there if I squint but mostly it keeps the mint from being boring or overwhelmingly a one trick pony.

__Morgana__

There used to be a lot more locations than there are now. Pretty sure the one in Yerba Burns is gone. I used to go to one in Hayes Valley, but not sure that’s still around.

derk

The one in Hayes Valley was still there when I lived that way. I remember being baffled that they didn’t use samovars… And they had a killer tea broth soup with duck. Looks like Yerba Buena is still open for business fyi.

__Morgana__

Really? Wow. I almost never get to the city these days but that’s good to know about Yerba Buena.

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70

The combination of a long weekend and a respite from the summer heat (it may be turning to fall, not that we really have fall — but we do have a cooler wind) made me excited to do some serious tea drinking this weekend. I could have waited until tomorrow to start, but I figured there was no time like the present.

When I started exercising regularly again, I initially tried to spice up my Peloton workouts with runs because that’s really my favorite form of exercise. But alas, my knees, and even my hips, have not weathered the aging process well, and I was pretty regularly finding myself too much in pain to run. Given that, I started taking a few supplements that are supposed to be good for reducing inflammation in the joints. One of those is turmeric.

Initially, I thought I saw a pretty significant improvement, though I’m not sure whether that’s attributable to the turmeric, the SAM-E, the fish oil, or a combination of all of them. I started taking a brand with peperine in it to help with absorption, but then I decided to try another preparation. Honestly, I think the peperine worked better so I’m probably going to go back to that.

But in any case, since I had turmeric on the brain when I did my last mega order of herbals, I decided to try this. The dry mix looks a little like a spice medley meant to use for cooking. I can see the lemongrass and orange peel. It’s all a rather orange/yellow/beige/khaki color scheme that’s attractive in its own right.

It steeps to a pretty intense golden yellow/orange color (just like the picture) that’s opaque. It smells a little like orange flavored dirt.

Fortunately, it doesn’t taste like dirt. But it’s not what I expected. I expected it to taste a little like Indian food spices, but that is not what I am getting. The licorice is fairly prominent, as is the citrus, with ginger in there somewhere. It’s an interesting flavor but not really something I’d drink for non-medicinal purposes. However, I would drink it for medicinal purposes without complaint.

And it could be so much worse in the hands of a lesser tea blender. I give it a solid 70.

I made this by the book except for the water temperature. I used 206F water because that’s what I had handy in the Zojirushi.

Flavors: Ginger, Lemon, Licorice, Orange

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 5 min, 0 sec 3 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML

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drank Cacao Mint by Samovar Tea Lounge
353 tasting notes

Going through my tea backlog and reviewing stuff I’ve drunk since I had neglected Steepster for several months…

I was in San Francisco for one night only and I had dinner and tea with some friends at Samovar Tea Lounge, which was an adorable little cafe where we had the option of sitting on pillows at low tables or in chairs at a regular table. We opted for chairs though in hindsight, I would have loved to have sat on pillows. But then we would have had to share a table with others.

It was late so I didn’t want anything with caffeine. Most of the other herbal teas had ginger in them, which I try and avoid since I don’t like it. So cacao mint it was.

I think I would have enjoyed this more if I had the ability to try different steeping times and temperatures. I think the temperature was a bit too hot and/or it was steeped for too long since the mint turned bitter. I had to steal honey from an appetizer to sweeten the tea (no sugar provided) to try and cut the bitterness and bring out the other flavors.

No rating.

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i know i should rinse first but as i read that somebody enjoyed the first steep of puerh the most, i decided to taste it. i liked the flavor actually. but it was lost subsequent steeps. drank them still, for the healthy elements :)

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92

This tea tastes thick to me, like it’s not flavored water anymore. If you look beyond that, it tastes pretty good. It tastes yellow, even though it’s not. It smells much more citrusy than it is. I did a series of very short steepings, probably thirty seconds or less.

Flavors: Citrus, Orange, Orange Zest

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 251 ML

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81

This is one of three teas I take something with: I put in about a teaspoon of strawberry jam. On its own, the smoky flavor is really overpowering. I’m the only one in my family who drinks it because they all complain that it smells awful. It doesn’t smell particularly fabulous, but it tastes good. I also let it steep for more than ten minutes, and it doesn’t turn bitter. I just sort of get it when I think about it.

Flavors: Smoke

Preparation
Boiling 8 min or more 2 tsp 10 OZ / 295 ML

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90

Tolstoy’s Sip has a smoky flavor that dances a little on the edge of too much without ever crossing over. The result is a flavor that I have to be in the mood for, but when I am, I am absolutely crazy about it.

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drank Cacao Mint by Samovar Tea Lounge
694 tasting notes

I received this tea from MissB’s tea sale back in January. Thank you!

I had a bunch of this back when I received it, but it looks like I didn’t write a note. Tonight I believe I over leafed or over steeped. It was a bit on the sour side. I get a bit of cacao, mint and then a bit of lavender. Some nights I enjoy this tea, other nights it just doesn’t sit right. I am glad to have experienced this combination, but I am not sure I would consider buying again.

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Interesting!

Drank this the other night, the lavender tasted peppery to me. I enjoyed it, it was definitely different, but I reached the conclusion that I would have liked it way more if it was just cacao mint. Which is why I plan to buy that flavor from Herbal Infusions at some point to try.

I’m not big on spicy/peppery teas, and for whatever reason the lavender overwhelmed my tastebuds to that extent.

So, nice to try, that’s it, goodbye!

Thanks for the sample, OMGsrsly! :)

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85

I also had this at Samovar Tea Lounge today because I am a tea glutton. This was not bitter, but it also wasn’t sweet. It was creamy and I enjoyed it very much. The aftertaste reminded me of the yolk of a hard-boiled egg.

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77

This was the tea I ordered today at Samovar Tea Lounge. It was a solid sencha.

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86

I went to Samovar Tea Lounge at Yerba Buena Gardens today with Casey. It was really a great place, but I guess I will save my review of this venue for that other part of Steepster.

Casey ordered this tea. It was really nice. I think the redwood forest description was pretty accurate, but Casey said it was a stretch, and he grew up literally in a redwood forest. The earthy/mossy flavors blended nicely with the citrus blood orange, grapefruit, and ginger flavors. The only problem with this tea that was by the end of the pot, the citrus rinds had contributed an overwhelming amount of flavor. Overall, I was really impressed. I’m not usually that fond of the puerh and citrus combination.

Flavors: Earth, Orange Zest, Peat Moss

TeaBrat

I love Samovar :)

CharlotteZero

The coconut rice pudding was awesome.

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drank Cacao Mint by Samovar Tea Lounge
2261 tasting notes

The only mint tea in my cupboard is now, sadly, gone.

I really really liked this one when I was in the mood for mint and didn’t have to worry about minting up my apartment (BFF is seriously allergic).

The mint, the lavender, the deliciousness. Mmm…

Perfect night time treat.

(Eee!!! 201! I’m almost below 200 teas!)

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 6 min, 0 sec 3 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML
Sil

i can remedy that…

OMGsrsly

Noooooo! My tea cupboard is nacho problem!

Dexter

LOL and I was looking at a post yesterday thinking – I should send her some of that. :))

OMGsrsly

I don’t wanna taco ’bout it. ;)

Sil

the best part? 90% of the population out there probably wants to know why you’re spelling “not your” wrong :)

OMGsrsly

Ahahaha. Awesome. (Psst weirdos. Drunk taco joke. Youtube. Yeah.)

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drank Cacao Mint by Samovar Tea Lounge
2261 tasting notes

IDK why I love this tea so much, but I do. Even with the mint. It’s just SOOOO good. And lavender-y. :D

Sipping on it plain today, since I want the last of my milk for my morning tea. I’ve also baked a bajillion cookies tonight in preparation for decorating them like eyeballs for Halloween, and not having sugar in this tea is a nice accompaniment to the cookies that weren’t quite perfect. Yes, that’s right. They weren’t perfect and also I needed to test them. Yup.

Anyways, if you like mint and chocolate and don’t mind lavender, definitely check this one out. It’s expensive, and hard for me to get, and also my BFF is hideously allergic to it, so I won’t be getting more. But you should! :)

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 5 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML
Kittenna

Lavender?! Ewww.

Kittenna

Also, unsweetened (good quality) teas are the perfect complement to baked goods. Om nom nom.

OMGsrsly

Haha. That was MissB’s response too, which is why I ended up with the tea! And I LOVE it.

Anlina

Wishlisted! I love chocolate and mint and the idea of adding lavender intrigues me.

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drank Cacao Mint by Samovar Tea Lounge
2261 tasting notes

This is SO GOOD. Thank you, MissB!

It’s helping my breathing because of the mint, and the flavour is just divine. Especially with some honey.

This might be the only mint tea I ever want to keep stocked. It’s not the best for my tummy (mint makes me nauseous), but right now it’s amazing.

Flavors: Chocolate, Flowers

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 8 min or more 2 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML
MissB

So glad you’re enjoying it and that it went to a home that loves it. :)

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drank Cacao Mint by Samovar Tea Lounge
2261 tasting notes

Hot damn. I love this.

That is something I never thought I’d say about a mint tea.

But this is superb.

I get mint-chocolate, with lavender. It smells in the order of chocolate-lavender-mint, though. The mint is SO fresh. I definitely have different taste buds from MissB, and I do love lavender.

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec
MissB

I did grossly oversteep this, however lavender really does make me feel like I’m breaking out into hives when it’s as strong as it is in that brew. I’m so glad you love it!!

OMGsrsly

I think I want more, MissB. Could I buy half the packet off you? It can wait till after your rush at work. :) And if no one else wants it by that point, I might take it all. I’m falling asleep in my chair here! This might be a new favourite night time tea.

OMGsrsly

Oh, I see someone else grabbed it. Boo. Now the hunt begins! :)

oddree

Mint chocolate and lavender sounds AMAZING to me – I’ll have to keep an eye out for that combo, or something similar.

OMGsrsly

If you can get your hands on this one, definitely try it!

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drank Cacao Mint by Samovar Tea Lounge
1497 tasting notes

I love the idea of this tea, and had wanted to try Samovar for a while. if I’d known however how much lavender was in this blend, I would have passed.

Brewed, this smells so strongly of lavender, it’s a bit cloying. If you like that sort of thing, this is probably your kind of tea. Me? I sipped hesitantly. One sip and I had to dump it. While I did taste the cacao and mint at the start of the sip, the lavender quickly took over and owned me.

It seems I really overleafed this one (1 tbsp for 8 oz, even though I swear that’s what it said on the package), however for the cost involved, I’d much rather just pass this along to someone who will enjoy it more.

Preparation
Boiling 8 min or more
Anna

Lavender is so tricky – just right, and it’s the loveliest thing ever, too much, and it’s an instant pour-out.

(I had lavender and white chocolate gelato a few weeks back, and they managed to balance it just right. Nom.)

Dustin

^That gelato sounds delicious!

OMGsrsly

I’ll try it, but can’t promise to love it because of the mint. :) I love lavender.

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Smoky and fairly strong, like a Caravan blend. I felt obligated to do it at least once the prescribed way (here: https://www.samovarlife.com/5-steps-to-the-ultimate-russian-tea ) with American Spoon strawberry preserves, but I must say, Samovar’s steeping instructions are awfully vague, giving amounts of leaf and jam to use but not amounts of water nor how long to steep nor how to go about straining (the “steaming” step implies you add the tea directly to the teapot, not within an infuser basket) given you’ve added jam to the tea. So it was all a mess, and unfortunately a waste of good jam too ‘cause I didn’t like it (I shouldn’t be too surprised; I have yet to find any strawberry with black tea base blend I like). Oh well. I guess it’s good (kinda) you can only order this in big amounts so wasting some the first time isn’t the end. :/

I appreciate Samovar’s steeping directions in general for trying to stay open to people’s varying tastes and also for being gongfu-ish, but sometimes you want a decent cup of western-style tea and no more than that (brisk blacks especially are something where I’m only going to want 1 cup, usually in a hurry first thing in the morning so no resteeps, and especially don’t want to be using 1 whole Tbsp a go). That’s what I want some specific guidelines for. Oh well. Next time I’ll try 1 teaspoon for 8 oz, boiling, 3 minutes and hopefully it’ll go ok.

EDIT: Hm, looking more closely I think I can put the pieces together, but it’s easy to overlook if you skim and requires additional link-hopping to figure it all out—it appears to be around 13oz boiling water, 3 Tb tea, 2 Tb strawberry jam, 10 second dry steam condition of the leaves then 15 minute steep jam and all. Filter afterward (somehow…), and then do equal parts the steeped super strong tea and additional boiling water, add sweetener and/or dairy to taste. I might just try it one more time…maybe. It’s vaguely like southern sweet tea, ha.

Terri HarpLady

I love Caravan style teas :)

boychik

Im from Russia. We never make tea this way. You make a zavarka, then dilute with hot water to your liking. Jam, pastries are on a side;)

ifjuly

yeah, the jam added right into the tea while steeping seemed very unorthodox to me—i’m vaguely familiar with “make a crazy concentrated tea, then dilute with hot water from a samovar and lots of sugar” but not the jam thing, ha.

ifjuly

that said i don’t really care about hewing to tradition or anything. it just seemed fun. but without clearer instructions the first go-round, and first thing in the morning when my head’s still fuzzy, it was a mess waiting to happen.

boychik

Let us know the results if you decide to try again

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