Modern Tea Shop in San Francisco

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By William Lamb / Published by Dwell
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With smart interiors by Arcanum Architecture, a shop in the Mission District attempts to put a new spin on the venerable cup of tea.

When Jesse Jacobs, the founder of Samovar Tea, was preparing to open a fourth location in San Francisco's Mission District, he began toying with a new concept and turned to a local firm, Arcanum Architecture, to help him execute it.

The exterior of Samovar Tea's newest location on Valencia Street in San Francisco's Mission District.

Samovar made a name for itself by selling elaborate tea services at its three San Francisco locations. For its newest location, which opened at 411 Valencia Street in May, Jacobs wanted to try selling his loose-leaf teas by the cup in a play on the venreble coffee-shop model. The company turned to Arcanum Architecture to create a space that would distinguish the newest Samovar shop from its counterparts and from its neighbors.

A selection of Samovar's loose-leaf teas is available for purchase by the cup.

The result is a modern space where stone, reclaimed wood, and concrete work together to create a welcoming environment where natural shades dominate. An exposed kitchen offers customers a window onto the tea-brewing process. A few of Samovar's teas are available for $3 to $5 a cup, with freshly baked scones available for $4 each.

Open, backlit shelves show off simple dishware.

Arcanum Architecture used wood, concrete, and stone to create a distinctive interior for the shop.

Another view of the minimalist interior.

The counter as seen through the front door from Valencia Street.