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Cafe Offers Free Tea to Customers Who Meditate for an Hour

That tea might get cold


A small chain of soothing San Francisco tea and chai “lounges,” Samovar, is spilling the tea on a new special: tea with a side of mindfulness. The tea is free, but the mindfulness costs customers 60 minutes of their time — with no distractions permitted.

The “mindfulness tea” special at Samovar, as it’s called, has only been around at the shop’s Yerba Buena Gardens location, and just for about a month, but it could soon expand to the shop’s Mission and Fillmore location. The idea is simple, per the menu:

“Enjoy a house-selected tea, on the house, provided you follow these exact instructions:

1. You must take 60 minutes to enjoy this tea.

2. No phone, computer, tablet, or distraction

3. No talking to anyone other than your server

4. Just drink the tea.

5. Limit 2 per table, and availability based on manager discretion.”

Jesse Jacobs, who founded Samovar, says the idea is to promote the benefits of mindfulness and meditation through his tea shop. Speaking to SFGate, he calls daily digital distractions a major “enemy” of happy, healthy living. Tea, by nature, can be an act of slowing down and savoring a moment, and the mindfulness tea, he implies, is an extension of that impulse.

According to Jacobs, the mindfulness tea is free under an honor system — customers who don’t complete their meditation are asked to pay, but if something comes up after they’ve mostly completed their hour, they’re unlikely to be charged. That’s called tea and sympathy.