Goldfish Tea really knows what it is doing. The prices are a bit high but I’ve never seen a tea house that can equal it (note that if you bring a travel mug the prices are lower). The owners’ passion for tea and China is evident from the second you step in the door. The decor is impressive, with substantial hardwood furniture from China throughout the store and teapots and statues lining the walls. It is one of the very few shops I have seen with any pu-er tea, but it goes further and provides several choices of both cooked and raw.
They also offer free tea tastings, which is pretty incredible to me. They prepare three different teas of your choice – typically a green, an oolong, and a black – and steep each three times. The whole process takes about one hour, during which the guide will also discuss the teas offered and answer any questions the group has about tea.
The shop’s limitation to only Chinese teas is a bit curious at first, but it seems that their Chinese contacts are central to their business and they would rather be experts at everything they sell. They also do not offer milk for tea. Despite being limited to Chinese teas, the selection is far greater than any other tea shop I have seen around here, but I still would have liked to see a couple from India at least. They also serve locally roasted coffee, which smelled excellent. I had the iced coffee and it was very flavorful, with hints of chocolate and cherry and a slightly bitter finish. My family reported that the smoothies were very good. The one other quibble I have is that they recommend 3 minute steeps for all teas, where I feel that half that is enough to bring out the flavor of greens without the astringency.
The tea room is the front part of the upstairs of the store; the rest is a bookstore, and they have a lounge/chair room in the back. It’s very cozy, and they have a great selection of looseleaf teas as well as coffee drinks and cafe-style snacks and light meals. They have herbs that you may never have even heard of being used for tea – for example, I bought a little packet of hops there. There are often musical performers there on the weekends. It’s nice but a little loud, and the place gets pretty crowded. In the bookstore, they have a lot of alternative-style books. Largely spiritual healing pseudoscience stuff but there are usually a few interesting titles also.
Tea selection is a bit limited but decent quality. They serve looseleaf, which is nice. The coffee drinks are good, a bit stronger than you’d get at Starbucks. If you get them made with organic milk, they are actually pretty great. Gone Wired is an awesome place to go study or work, since it’s somehow both spacious and cozy. They occasionally have musical performers on Friday or Saturday nights. The menu is nice, the food is reasonably priced, and they serve breakfast until the kitchen closes around 8pm. I almost want to give 4 stars because I wish they carried more teas – they only have 2 or 3 unflavored black teas, for example – but it’s just so cozy and happy that I’ve gotta still give it 5.