Samovar Launches New Tea Bar Concept – Need to Know

A row of infusion crucibles at Samovar Tea Bar.
A row of tea infusion crucibles at the new Samovar Tea Bar in San Francisco.

What tea professionals need to start the week of June 16, 2014 —

Samovar Tea Bar launches a new tea retail concept worth watching…Honest Tea sells its billionth bottle… George Jage, founder of World Tea Expo, exits… Barak Obama sneaks out for a cup of tea.

Samovar’s Clever Retail Concept

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. – Jesse Jacobs, founder of Samovar Lounge last week unveiled a new tea retail concept that bears watching.

The Samovar Tea Bar, located at 411 Valencia St., advances the idea that takeaway tea can be fast, inexpensive and every bit as trendy as a “third-wave” coffee shop.

The brightly lit, open layout (designed by Arcanum Architecture) resembles an Apple Store. The 600 sq. ft. storefront requires a small staff. The only food on the menu are scones available in savory or sweet with jam or honey.

The most significant innovation, however, is a line of what Jacobs calls “crucible” brewers built into the service counter.

This puts customers directly in front of sommeliers wearing aprons who measure the tea, place it in the glass chamber and then press a touchscreen to fill the crucible with hot water, agitate and infuse the tea. Elapsed time is a couple of minutes with the tea decanted into a pitcher and poured into a cup.

Jesse Jacobs
Samovar Tea Bar Owner Jesse Jacobs

In a flash Jacobs demonstrates all the captivating interaction of a single-pour barista with a healthful beverage delivered faster than coffee. The machines make quite an impression.

Manufactured by Salt Lake City-based Alpha Dominche they sell for $15,000. Khristian Bombeck, founder and inventor at Alpha Dominche, designed the Steampunk 4.0 with a computer to control a wide range of specific parameters, such as water temperature, agitation and water pressure as well as three grades of metal filters to reproduce a range of brewing methods.

JC_J2A9928_150dpiAn added benefit of the system is that it’s programmable, allowing staff to recreate these parameters at the touch of the screen. This also means that the Steampunk requires only minimal operator training.

The shop is frenzied urban friendly with six teas priced between $3 and $5. These include a black, green and herbal and a matcha shot or shake. Seasonal options include an iced tea. A copper cauldron of chai makes it possible to get a cup of tea as quickly at Samovar as from the famous chaiwalla street vendors in Calcutta.

The tea bar is open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. in a part of the city known for exceptional coffee shops like Four Barrel Coffee just up the street. Expect it to draw a crowd.

George Jage Departs World Tea Expo

LONG BEACH, Calif. – Tears and toasts marked the departure of George Jage as the organizer and host of World Tea Expo, the most vibrant of North America’s tea gatherings.

Jage, who co-founded the annual tradeshow in 2002, will lead CannaBusiness Media, a Colorado-based publishing and event company serving the medical marijuana trade. CannaBusiness is a division of Anne Holland Ventures, Inc., headquartered in Pawtucket, R.I. Publications include the Marijuana Industry Directory, Marijuana Business Daily and the annual CannaBusiness Money Show.

His last day at F+W Media was June 11.

George Jage moving on.
George Jage is moving on.

On the Saturday ending the show a crowd of friends and family filled the office during the final hour of the World Tea Expo. A portable bar appeared as the show floor closed and Jage announced his departure to the crowd of exhibitors with wife Kim and their two children nearby.

The outpouring of emotion that followed was spontaneous. There were testimonials and tearful goodbyes, a blend of sorrow and light-hearted ribbing about his new position.

Devan Shah, who invested more in the Expo than any other sponsor, told the crowd that Jage’s role in organizing World Tea Expo was indispensable in the development of America’s specialty tea industry.

James Norwood Pratt extolled Jage for his commitment and charm. Jane Pettigrew offered her congratulations and Suzette Hammond, Director of Education & Brand Communication Strategist at Rishi Tea, was so tearful she could only give him a hug.

Kim Jage watched proudly. She departed the company in October 2013.

Jage, President & Publisher at CannaBusiness Media,quipped that he intends to take his next assignment “to new highs.” The job is a perfect fit, it is as though I have been preparing for this position for years, he said.

He and his family will remain in Las Vegas.

A Billion Bottles

Sales of Honest Tea passed the billion bottle mark last week, an accomplishment that took 16 years. Astounding when you consider the company launched 85 different beverages under the label and bought 22 million pounds of organic and Fair Trade Certified ingredients to accomplish this feat.

Honest Tea_HoneyGreenTea“Sixteen years ago, it almost felt like I sold every bottle myself. It’s nice to see our brand and mission reach an audience well beyond my personal sales route! This is a testament to the persistence and faith of our team as well as the increasing acceptance of organic ingredients,” said co-founder & TeaEO Goldman.

“One of our core missions is to democratize organics,” said Goldman. “Now when I visit with our suppliers, they know it’s not just some guy who started a company out of his house, it’s a representative of The Coca-Cola Company.”

It took 10 years to sell 112 million bottles. Following the company’s acquisition in 2011 Honest Tea became available in 100,000 outlets. In the past six years sales grew by 888 million bottles. The company now buys 8 million pounds of organic ingredients a year, most of it tea.

Source: Honest Tea

Presidential Preference

President Barak Obama dashed from his Washington DC residence last week to visit a Starbucks on Pennsylvania Avenue, bypassing the media pool. He was accompanied by White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough and armed guards. He spent about eight minutes in the shop.

On their way back to the residence, a group of reporters arrived. Noticing the cup Bill Plante a CBS News reporter, loudly asked Obama, “how’s the coffee?”

“It’s tea,” the president responded.

The media subsequently ran 1,535 articles on the encounter.

Source: CBS News

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Editor | Publisher | Podcaster | Consultant | Journalist Dan is the founder of Tea Journey Magazine, the Tea Biz Podcast and Blog, and a contributing editor at STiR coffee and tea. He is the former editor and publisher of Tea Magazine, former editor and publisher of World Tea News, and former editor-in-chief at Specialty Coffee Retailer, then headquartered in San Francisco. Dan has traveled the tea lands, speaking on retail beverage trends in Canada and the United States and at conferences in Europe, China, India, Australia, the Middle East, South America, and Africa.