The World's Best Tea Shops

Tea drinking is a centuries-old practice with a rich history steeped in tradition. Fine purveyors across the world are enhancing the expe...
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Samovar Tea Bar; San Francisco

Over the past 12 years, Jesse Jacobs has traveled the world, working with farmers to source tea leaves to serve at his four Samovar lounges in San Francisco. But after spending most of last year in Hawaii helping upstart growers find their footing, he got a creative recharge and decided to rethink how he sells tea. At his newest Samovar, Jacobs and his staff prepare tea in glass crucibles he created with brewing-tech company Alpha Dominche. These devices, controlled by an Android tablet, make one cup at a time, with water calibrated to the proper temperature for each type of tea (140 degrees for a Japanese first flush, 195 for herbal). Counterbalancing the technology are artisanal designs, like the ceramic cups from Oakland, California’s Atelier Dion: “They’re unglazed on the outside so you can get a feel for raw chalk or stone,” Jacobs says. “I want to convey tea as substantial instead of precious and dainty. And why can’t tea be that way? The cups have a very strong heft to them.” 411 Valencia St.;

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