Once upon a time, in a galaxy far, far away…. uh, wait a minute….
Once upon a time (in 1916) a little house was built in the 500 block of 5th Avenue in Anchorage that one day became the home for the Kobuk Coffee Company. In the late 1960’s Patsy James opened a shop called Goldpan Gifts in that location and it evolved from candy and Alaskan artifacts to today’s Kobuk Coffee Company.
Of course, when there’s a building this old it goes through various paint jobs and permutations. Kimballs dry goods is no longer there – its a cafe now, but thank heavens it was there when the Anchorage Performing Arts center was built or there’d likely be no Kobuk Coffee Company it its present permutation. There was a long, hard fight by the owner of that building with the loving support of the Sourdough Anchorage community to keep that one building in place.Today, it is the only historic building left standing on the corner while the Performing Arts Center and groomed lawns, brick paths and flowers have taken over the rest of the large area. Sometimes the good guys still win.
There’s is nothing that can describe the sights in that quaint little shop nor the heavenly aromas that greet you at the door. In fact, if it wasn’t for fear of crashing into all the fine china and bric-a-brac one might swoon from sheer joy. This place was one of my favorite destinations in Anchorage. Why? Because of the Samovar Tea! And what’s that, you might ask? Well, I’m about to tell you, Padawan, I mean Cheechako.
Samovar tea is named after the Russian samovar in which tea was brewed and from which it was served. The Kobuk usually has a nice selection of samovars in stock. And Samovar Tea is able to be brewed in one. It’s got a Black Caravan base so you’ll be fully caffeinated (a doctor friend I know drinks a pot before a long shift and says he’s bright eyed and bushy tailed all night!) and warm as toast during those long Alaskan nights.
What makes this tea different, however, is the difference between a spice tea like Market Spice and Samovar Tea. Wow! Ignore the steeping directions. Put your wondrous Samovar Tea in a large tea ball, add hot water, and wait for 20 minutes. Yes, 20 minutes! It will not be bitter. The almost syrupy, hot, spicy, sweet tea (there’s no sugar in it) will roll around on your tongue like nothing you’ve ever tasted before in your life.
In fact, I’ve managed to addict people all over the country (and possibly around the world) to the joys of this incredible spice tea. I used to believe Market Spice was the ultimate. There is no comparison. All hail Samovar Tea! It’s a million dollar recipe held secret by this one little tea shop. I worship at it’s feet.
It is tea season again and I’ve ordered a pound of my beloved Samovar Tea. Kept in airtight tins it keeps well over the year, but one must have a new infusion come autumn. It is steeped in orange, clove, cinnamon and heavens only knows what else and it is like drinking the ambrosia of the gods!
So, if you are in Anchorage for a visit, take your high limit credit card and stop by one the best little tea, coffee, candy, and bric-a-brack shops in the world. If you’d rather not fly, boat, or drive up there and still want to try my favorite tea, they now express ship it out. If you want to impress your friends for the holiday season you can buy a pound (in 1/4 pound containers) and they will be amazed at the wonderful smell emanating from your gift. Sorry, my friends already get it so you’ll have to find other people to impress.
The usual disclaimers – I have no financial interest. I’m merely a bone-deep fan of the best little tea shop in the world.