Gong Fu Tea Shop

Recent Tasting Notes

89

This is one of my summer favorites! I’m really enjoying floral & fruity black teas lately, and although this one does not contain any actual fruit, it still has a very nice light berry aroma and flavor—just a hint that goes right along with the light floral aspects of this tea. The black tea base is great too—not too strong, not too weak, but just right. A great way to wake up on these sunny summer mornings!

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 5 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 6 OZ / 177 ML

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83
drank The Himalayan by Gong Fu Tea Shop
332 tasting notes

I received a sample of this from Charissa. Thank you!

The best way to describe this one for me is to say it is a very flavorful darjeeling esc tea. I liked it. It was muscital, fruity, but had a bit more body than I am use to in the darjeelings I have tried. I liked it! This will be an afternoon tea for me while it lasts. Thank you for sharing this one!

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82
drank Kenyan Safari by Gong Fu Tea Shop
332 tasting notes

I received a sample of this from Charissa. Thank you for sharing some of your Gong Fu teas with me!

This was a really tasty cup. I had this one in the afternoon yesterday, but noted that this would be better in the morning. It is a bit of a kick in the pants kinda tea. It has hints of muskital/mushroom. It is brisk, but the briskness is a nice flavor adding taste. It is rich and well balanced flavor. I can see why tea from this region is often used in breakfast blends.

Charissa

Glad you liked it!

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94
drank Milk Oolong by Gong Fu Tea Shop
289 tasting notes

I had a little bit of this left, so I decided I wanted to pseudo gong fu this one at my desk. I should just bring my gaiwan into the office. I end up doing more psedu gong fu sessions here than I do actual sessions at home. Well, I could also use that as an excuse to buy a new gaiwan. Anyone have any suggestions of ones they like?

I love how freaking creamy this tea is for the first several infusions. CREAMY! If it weren’t for the fact that it’s clear, I would think that it had whole milk at a minimum, it’s so creamy. Then it gets like buttery popcorn. So yummy! I love this tea.

(I do have some of thePuriTea milk oolong coming in the mail tomorrow. I will definitely compare, since I loved that one the one time I had it.)

And I needed a relaxing, lovely, amazing tea today because I’ve spent my entire day dealing with idiots. IDIOTS! I told you I will fix it, but you have to verify one thing for me before I will make the fix. Don’t ask again and again (literally three times!) without verifying the information for me.

On another note, I’m going out to dinner with a friend from the east coast as she drives through my area on her way elsewhere for the weekend. I’m excited.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 15 sec 1 tsp 5 OZ / 147 ML
Cameron B.

Well I’m glad you get to have dinner with a friend to help relax after a day filled with imbeciles. :P

boychik

http://m.ebay.com/itm/350927580204?nav=SEARCH
Highly recommend this gaiwan, I use it daily. Reliable seller, got it in 10 days

Cheri

That looks nice. Thanks for the recommendation!

TheTeaFairy

I like your “pseudo gongfu” sessions at work :-)

MzPriss

I second boychik’s recommendation. I have one that is very similar and I have it at work. Really easy.

apt

Jing Tea Shop sells a great one for $5, their tea is great as well.

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90

From the Here’s Hoping Tea box3!

I am a huge fan of Mandala Tea’s milk oolong and was very curious how this oolong stacks up. Appearance wise, GFTS’ milk oolong is a darker, vibrant green, with smaller more chewed up leaf than Mandala’s milk oolong. I used the same steeping parameters that I use for my Mandala Tea milk oolong.

Taste wise, GFTS’ is more fruity – I was getting coconut and bit of fruityness, with lots of vegetal and buttery creamy. This one is quite good – but I’m still leaning on Mandala Tea’s milk oolong, which is more caramel butter edge to it with nicer leaf quality.

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 30 sec
Cheri

I really like this milk oolong. It’s one of my favorites. I have not had the Mandala one yet.

Scatterbrain

Definitely give Mandala’s milk oolong a try, Cheri. It is awesome! American Tea Room has a great one too.

TeaTiff

Cheri, you tried GFTS and Mandala:) I remember reading your tasting notes. Awkward Soul, I am going to have to go back and have a cup of each. The strong notes of each makes me curious again. For me the GFTS won due to the intense creamy flavor.

Cheri

I did try the Mandala! I had that one confused in my head. Oops! I didn’t give it a rating because I wanted to try the GFTS and Teavivre ones. My bad!! (I thought I’d had it, and went back through my ratings because I can sort those so much better than my tea log aqnd couldn’t find it. I’m such an idiot.)

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Not sure about this one. I got some while at Gong Fu this past Saturday but I don’t know that I’ll quickly make my way through the 2 ounces. It was okay, somewhat roasty and heavy. But there was an off putting undertone to the cup that I’m not sure I liked. Will try again before rating or trying to rehome. :)

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83

I had this at the shop today, iced. I was trying to decide if I needed to buy some of it to take home. I ended up deciding not to. It was good, but I wasn’t sure if I loved it 2 ounces and $20 worth.

It was more fermented tasting than most teas I’ve had. Not malty so much as fermented. It wasn’t a bad thing by far. It gave the tea a sweetness and mellowed it out. I didn’t pick up any smoke, which was good. :) It was rich and thick feeling, even iced. If it had been available in 1 ounce or less expensive, I might well have come home with some.

Preparation
5 min, 0 sec

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95

After reading TeaTiff’s review of this one not too long ago, I thought “hmm that sounds good!” and added that at the last-minute to my summer tea order at Gong Fu. What a great unexpected addition it turned out to be! It totally hit the spot! Full-bodied, fruity, vanilla: NAILED IT! This tea is just so satisfactory. It’s elegant, lovely, quite dashing with that nice fruity current taste (and smell! Oh the scent that this tea exudes! I seriously spent pretty much the whole five-minutes while it steeped with my nose practically plastered to the bag, inhaling the delicious aroma).

If this tea were a person, it would be that “tall, dark, and handsome”, smooth, clean-cut dashing gentleman in a spiffy black suit at a party . He’d be French, of course. And if you stand close to him under a starry sky in Paris, you are totally drawn in by the fantastic fragrance of his cologne. Ah, Paris. Ah, strong sweet fruity black tea. I am in love. (If I knew French, this is where I would insert the perfect French phrase). Okay, I know, this all is sounding pretty cliche, but this tea is not cliche. It’s just….wonderful.

The only thing wrong about it is it’s name, in my opinion. I would definitely pick something more romantic than Le Tour de France. Not that Tour de France is not a good association—it’s just that it doesn’t represent the elegance and smoothness and finery that is this tea. I would call it something along the lines of “Moonlight in Paris.” Ooh la la!

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 5 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 6 OZ / 177 ML

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25

Hmm I didn’t care for this tea. It just tasted really bland to me, lacking the complexity and depth of flavor I like—and come to expect—in really good black teas. There is just not much to say about it. I even tried steeping it for a shorter period of time (3 minutes instead of the typical 5) because the description said it was good for gong fu style drinking, but that didn’t change anything taste-wise. As a last resort, I finally tried cold-steeping it, and that also did not bring out anything new in terms of flavor. Oh well, I’m glad I gave it a try, though.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 5 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 6 OZ / 177 ML
TeaTiff

Oh man. By the name I thought this one would be tasty.

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64

Thanks to TeaTiff for this sample!

Wow, this tea is pretty complex. I used about 3.5 teaspoons to 2.5 cups and steeped it for about 3 minutes. It doesn’t have a strong smell dry, but when brewed it almost reminds me of a lapsang. The smell is mildly earthy and smoked. The sip starts of strong with the taste of the forest floor in autumn and finished with a drying astringency (probably due to me steeping it at 212 instead of 208). Since it is highly oxidized, it drinks like a black tea instead of an oolong. I like my oolongs a little less oxidized.

Flavors: Astringent, Autumn Leaf Pile, Cacao, Coffee, Dark Bittersweet, Dirt, Mineral, Smoke, Tobacco

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 15 sec

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82

I mostly drink scented/flavored teas at work. They are easy and I don’t feel guilty about getting the steep time and water temperature all wrong. When I put in an order for more of my beloved Milk Oolong I also added 2 flavored blacks, this one and Garden Grove. I enjoyed this one the other day, and so far it is hitting me as a tea that is very similar to Paris from Harney and Sons. I will have to drink a cup side by side to be sure. I really enjoyed the base in this one and without tasting them side by side I would say that this one wins, but we shall see. This was a very enjoyable flavored tea for work!

Charissa

I really like Garden Grove! It’s a good black tea for summertime with the berries and all. I have yet to try Le Tour de France, but I just might have to pick some up the next time I go to Gong Fu. (Which should be soon, as I need to get my summer teas!)

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94
drank Milk Oolong by Gong Fu Tea Shop
289 tasting notes

I am in love. IN LOVE!!! with this tea.

I did this pseudo gong fu cha again in the 5oz finum glass and I took notes. Notes that are of no use. They just say things like “Wow!” “I can’t believe this tea!” “Incredible” “Dreamy” “I’m in love”

Okay, there are a few other notes along the way that are useful. Creamy, incredibly creamy. Milky and creamy. Amazing mouth feel.

By the end, the aroma was more buttery popcorn, and that was how it tasted, buttery creamy and delicious.

I love this tea.

I want more.

I want more now.

TeaTiff sent enough of this tea that I can do another session. I’m thinking Monday since I won’t have time for the care this tea needs and deserves over the weekend.

This is tied for the highest rating I’ve given a tea. I don’t have the other to compare to this one to decide which I really like better but this tea is amazing.

I am in love. I want this tea (and the other tea with the same rating) in my cupboard all the time.

Cameron B.

I’ll make sure to add this to my wishlist! I am very interested in milk oolongs, having not tried one yet. :D

Cheri

I really have been impressed with the unflavored ones. Other people like the flavored ones. You just have to try them to find what you like.

Cameron B.

Definitely. It’s just hard to know where to start sometimes! I’ll definitely add this one to the top of my list – it sounds amazing and I feel the price is very reasonable.

TheTeaFairy

Cheri, I too prefer the unflavoured ones…and this one goes on my shopping list :-)

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90
drank Milk Oolong by Gong Fu Tea Shop
510 tasting notes

This was a gorgeous light buttercup color. It smelled wonderful – creamy and mildly vegetal. And it tasted even better. It lived up to all the promises the smell made – buttery, smooth, creamy, lightly vegetal, mildly sweet.

Thanks, TeaTiff for sharing this at the tea this afternoon! It definitely goes on my list to pick up from Gong Fu!

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83

I found a good sized sample of this in my sample drawer. I was pretty excited because I love silver needle! It’s sweet and mellow. I wish it had a bit more of that silver needle sweetness to it though. It’s a bit weak but it goes perfectly with my rainy day off :)

Sarsonator

You have a dedicated drawer for samples? That’s so awesome!

KallieBoo!

I somehow acquired so many a sample drawer was necessary D: It’s slowly but surely clearing out :3

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100
drank Milk Oolong by Gong Fu Tea Shop
332 tasting notes

Amazing! That really is all I have to say about this tea. I am trying all 3 milk oolongs that I own and I wanted to drink this one first since it was my first love. It is just as wonderful as I remember. Sweet, buttery, and a slight slight vegetal taste. This time I am getting a hint of coconut as well. The next 2 milk oolongs are going to have to bring their “A” game.

TheTeaFairy

Haha! Pressure, pressure!

Cheri

I’m looking for a really good milk oolong. May have to see if I can find a sample of this one to try.

TeaTiff

I can send you a sample of this one and mandala. I will send you a pm.

Cheri

Wow, thanks!

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81
drank Mao Feng by Gong Fu Tea Shop
58 tasting notes

This is a nice green. It is lightly warm and vegetal, with a teensy bit of asparagus and possibly nut, and a faint smoky taste reminiscent of gunpowder green tea, and with a slight smoky sweetness on the finish. The first thing I noticed, though, was the gunpowder taste—nothing strong or bold, but just enough of a presence to bring to mind my old habit of drinking 4 cups of gunpowder green tea before my morning run during marathon training. That sure did get me going!

Anyway, this is a perfect tea to keep me going these days, when I require a different sort of energy…not a bold burst like a cannon, which the gunpowder used to supply, but a more low-key, substantial, and sustainable energy to keep up with my toddler all day! And yet the tea needs to be mellow enough to keep me calm and patient. This fits the bill most afternoons. It’s an enjoyable yet practical green, nothing too fancy or lofty for everyday, yet not hum-drum or boring. It has enough complexity to keep me interested, but nothing I would feel obligated to forgo on the basis of “not having enough time” to appreciate it.

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 3 min, 30 sec 1 tsp 6 OZ / 177 ML

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82

This is another great spring green tea! Deliciously sweet and juicy cherry and sencha combine in an exquisite and vibrant duo. The scent of the dry leaf is incredible: it will make your mouth water the minute you stick your nose in it, and brings to mind super juicy cherry candy like a Starburst or Jolly Rancher. The liquor itself, though, has a more natural cherry flavor which is nicely balanced and doesn’t taste medicinal (I was a little apprehensive it would taste too much like cough syrup). Additionally, this tea has a light, almost faint vanilla wafting in the background. All in all, it’s fresh, fruity, and faintly floral—as if you were sitting among cherry trees in full bloom. Very tasty!

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 3 min, 30 sec 1 tsp 6 OZ / 177 ML

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drank Jin Xuan by Gong Fu Tea Shop
332 tasting notes

I bought 2oz of this back in December with my last order from Gong Fu. I really liked the milk oolong and wanted to try something similar but different. I have had this a few times and there is something about it that just hits me wrong. I am not sure if I am brewing it incorrectly but I always get a “bitter” flavor. I am not sure if it is actually bitter or just a flavor in the tea that is hitting me wrong. This tea looks like it has won some prizes and although that doesn’t mean anything for my palate, I just wanted to like it.

This smells very floral/vegetal. The first part of the sip is very buttery followed by the flavor that I dislike. I have a few tsp left of this. Maybe I will try lowering the water temp even more?

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 3 min, 15 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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88
drank Cloud Nine by Gong Fu Tea Shop
58 tasting notes

This is a tasty treat! A delicious sencha base with nice juicy fruit flavor. Strawberry and raspberry provide a light sweetness while the rhubarb contributes a delicate, pleasant tartness on the tongue. I can also taste smooth honey. As is the case with all the Gong Fu teas I’ve had so far, the variety of flavors co-mingling with the tea are very well-balanced and masterfully chosen. This tea really does make you feel like you’re on cloud nine. It’s a great way to celebrate spring, and I’m glad I included it in my spring green collection!

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 6 OZ / 177 ML

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68

This one is very earthy, just a little fruity but not sweet enough to be to my taste. There are some peaty and tobacco notes that I don’t tend to like, either, and while the overall flavor isn’t bad it’s just not my thing. It’s a sipdown and I don’t think I’ll restock.

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Spring is here, and it is high time for me to focus on fine green teas like this one. Out with the old, in with the new! Although of course I will always need a good black tea throughout the year, now is when my tea tastings will hopefully include more of the flavors of spring, with an emphasis on lovely fruit and floral flavors coming from fine greens, delicate whites, and lighter oolongs.

I thought this Green Snail Spring would be a perfect place to start in expanding my green tea experience. It did not disappoint, and has provided me with a nice tasty cup on the several occasions I have had it (I wanted to hold off on the review until I had tasted it several times, just to get a full appreciation of it, since we all know how the same tea can taste slightly different from day to day.) I just finished my 5th tasting of this so I think it’s safe to venture writing a tea log note.

I followed my usual teapot method, heating water to not quite boiling and then letting it cool to about 175 degrees. I allowed the tea to steep for 4 minutes, but I tasted it earlier at 3 and 3.5 minutes for full effect, because I know greens are typically steeped at that or even shorter periods (I just don’t usually appreciate them that early on…I can’t taste much of anything, so 3 minutes is the earliest I can really enjoy green teas.)

At 3 minutes, the tea tasted simple and pleasant: light, slightly sweet, and that’s about it.

At 4 minutes, it was just right in my opinion. No bitterness, dryness, or astringency. Just a nice, simple, slightly sweet vegetal flavor reminiscent of a spring garden full of fresh sugar snap peas. I also could say it had notes of asparagus as well. Previous tastings had also provided me with a very slight nutty flavor, almost like a whisper of almond and walnut, but not completely—just a faint hint. It seems that sometimes I taste more of the sweet floral (honeysuckle?)/sweet vegetal (snap peas), and other times more of the nut/asparagus.

Either way, it’s a very delicious tea overall: light, delicate, unassuming but quite flavorful, something that you can drink multiple cups of and not feel too much “green-tea” strength in the stomach. Very enjoyable, indeed!

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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95

Ooooooh I had the luxury of trying this the other day—what a treat! My mother-in-law (who I finally managed to convert into the tea-lover camp; she used to be a “coffee person”…haha not anymore! ) decided to get a special tea for us to try at Gong Fu and surprised me with this. She said that the tea shop employee had explained that this tea was exceptional and very difficult to obtain. Now, I don’t think I have every detail worked out because I was hearing all this second-hand, but from what I gathered apparently the first harvest goes to the Emperor, and then in the next harvest (of a very limited quantity) is made available to the lucky few tea merchants who can get it. She said that the owners of Gong Fu tea were the only ones in the U.S. who were able to get this tea. There was only like 6 lbs available. Wow! That’s incredible. I don’t know how it all works, how tea shop owners buy their teas and what the process is (particularly for rare teas like this) but it sounds challenging!

Anyway, the taste was phenomenal. Light, mellow, and refreshing, with a clover-like sweetness. The liquor was so pale I was afraid I had understeeped it, but when I tasted it I was relieved that it contained so much more flavor than I had expected just by looking at the brew.

I wish I had more to write about this tea since it is so rare and special—seems like it deserves a whole huge page of detailed review. But as I am relatively new to trying different kinds of authentic green teas, and am still developing a palate to appreciate the subtleties of fine greens, I think a more experienced tea connoisseur would have a lot more to say about it than humble me. I am not worthy of this tea.

Still, it was a very enjoyable experience to indulge in such a lovely tea. I feel very fortunate to have the chance to taste it. And that is the beauty of tea: it shares its flavor freely to all those who come to take a sip. Whether you are a seasoned tea-drinker or someone who is new to its complexities, all can partake in a simple moment of pleasure as they imbibe this special, unique gift of a beverage.

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 6 OZ / 177 ML
TeaTiff

I love reading your log. You make everything sound so lovely!

Charissa

Aw, thanks for saying that, Tiff! Made my day! :-)

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82

I received a sample of this from Charissa. Thank you for sharing one of your favorites from the winter.

This one I would say is the heaviest of all three of the samples Charissa sent. My first cup of this I used the word “chewy” to describe this tea. and possibly “meaty.” This cup I am getting a roasted, slightly smokey accent to the sweet and dry mouthful. I have enjoyed a few cups of this and it has been a great warming evening tea., despite the caffeine. It hits the spot on this late March snowy evening.

I really enjoy this one, but I am not sure it is one I would repurchase from Gong Fu Tea. I enjoyed the Organic Ceylon and Nilgire a bit more.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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86
drank Nilgiri by Gong Fu Tea Shop
332 tasting notes

I received a sample of this from Charissa! Thank you for sharing with me.

I have had a few cups of this already and every time I am not sure what to write about this tea. It is mellow and smooth. It is a bit dry at the end of the sip. It is a lighter tea, but is not weak. The flavor fills the entire sip. There are no strong flavors that stand out, but it is well rounded. For me this is a standard black tea. (The flavor that I think of when I think black tea). As the description says I think it would be amazing iced. Hot it is amazing as well.

Preparation
Boiling 2 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML
Charissa

Nice description of this one, Tiff! I think everything you said was spot on. It is light, yet not at all weak—so full of flavor and delicious. I’m glad you liked it!

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