Valentine’s Day started with a cup of Japanese green tea called green ecstasy at Samovar. It was my second visit, this time at its location in the Mission. The first time I was at the one in the Castro and had ryokucha, also a Japanese green tea but one that includes toasted brown rice. On that first visit I had sat down with a pot of tea and was still reading Sense and Sensibility. I remember reaching the part when Willoughby abruptly leaves Barton for London, thus abandoning Marianne for good. Elinor’s reaction upon learning that Willoughby is leaving, and her rational analysis of it afterwards, is one of my favorite parts of the book, and a big win for having sense over sensibility.
Samovar in the Mission goes out of its way to make the simple ritual of tea as complicated and tech-chic as possible. The tea leaves are pre-measured in artfully displayed test tubes, and after tapping your order into a tablet, some contraption called a steampunk automatically brews the tea, which is then served in a paper cup. This was all far too much of a spectacle for my taste. There is an effortlessness to tea that I love, and I felt all of the beautiful simplicity was lost. Nevertheless, my cup of green ecstasy was delicious. I picked up a huge coffee habit in the fall, and though I still drink it a couple times a week, I’m returning to tea as the default, which feels like a good thing.

Post-Reading: Sense and Sensibility

There are some books that strike me so deeply that I dread their inevitable end, especially considering that nothing beats the novelty of a first read. Given this, I was actually ready for Sense and Sensibility to reach its conclusion, though not due to any kind of disappointment. I loved it. The story is continuously surprising and observant of human behavior and folly. New characters are steadily introduced, adding freshness and much needed details to the intertwined story lines. I was eager to reach the story’s end simply because the Dashwood sisters, Elinor and Marianne, are miserable throughout, and I was anxious for them to find reprieve. Their misery is largely due to heartbreak, which does not come off as frivolous as you would imagine; partly because their emotions are so pure and heartfelt, and partly because they are women of the 18th century. There are few prospects beyond marriage, so a runaway suitor deals a particularly strong blow.
I assumed some version of happily ever after, though I assure you it’s a tame one, because I couldn’t imagine a young Jane Austen letting down the characters she so thoughtfully created. The Dashwood sisters are emotional and eloquent, two qualities that blend perfectly together. I looked up Austen and her work a number of times while reading Sense and Sensibility, and was left with the impression that the book is not a favorite among readers or critics. If that is the case, my expectations for the remainder of the Austen canon are sky high. Northanger Abbey is next.

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