Photo by Lydia Chávez

Samovar, an organic and sustainable tea company in San Francisco, recently decided to temporarily close all of its physical locations and will instead move online with tea and seminars. 

“The origin of tea is about bringing people together, but we can’t do it in the way that we used to,” said Samovar founder and CEO Jesse Jacobs, “So now, in a time when bringing people together is more important than ever, we decided to develop a way to do so that utilizes technology and connects with people, even if it’s from their living room.”

The closure or “hibernation” of Samovar’s physical locations came after the spike in cases after July 4 and Gov. Newsom’s order to close indoor service at restaurants and bars. 

“Not only did this pandemic reduce customer volume and our ability to house customers in our space,” said Jacobs, “but it also sparked a sense of fear in both our customers and staff in not wanting to contract COVID-19 while at Samovar, which is the last thing we want.” 

Jacobs made the decision to close all four physical locations starting Sunday, July 19. 

Nevertheless, Samovar’s online shop continues to operate, accepting mail orders globally. At the same time, said Jacobs, several executives from different tech firms in San Francisco inquired about hosting virtual mindfulness and tea-tasting events for their teams.

Those succeeded, and will now be open to anyone. 

Last Monday, Jacobs hosted the very first public class, at which he led participants in an ancient movement and breathing meditation followed by a guided mindful tea tasting. Some 500 people from the US and countries like Nigeria, Kenya, South Korea, and China attended the event. 

“Tea is the vehicle, and the class is the initiative to bring Samovar to more people,” said Jacobs, “That is the silver lining; at any of our locations we could never seat more than 75 people. But now we’re reaching hundreds from all over the world.” 

The classes aim to help people cope with the new standard of living during the pandemic. 

The ritual of tea is considered a practice of mindfulness and is something that Jacobs hopes people will develop into a daily, healthy habit during the quarantine.

The next free online class will be held on Thursday, August 23, at 3:30 p.m. In addition to the tea tasting, Jacobs is inviting Zen Habits founder Leo Babauta to speak about his business and how he copes with stress.  

Anyone interested is encouraged to join Samovar’s mailing list or regularly check the virtual events page on the website.  Signups for the class will be on a first come, first served basis. 

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