Gong Fu Tea Shop

Recent Tasting Notes

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

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

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! :-)

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

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

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

86
drank Nilgiri by Gong Fu Tea Shop
341 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!

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

90

This almond-flavored black tea struck me with love the moment I took my first sip…no, actually it was the moment I took a whiff of the dry leaf, which smells strongly like almond extract (except minus the alcoholy bite)—sooo good! I was immediately drawn to it from that first sniff, which at once reminded me of my wedding cake: almond-flavored and fabulous! When I took a sip of the tea itself, it was almost like having that cake in liquid form. What a wonderful surprise to revisit that special occasion in my life, brought about by a single cup of tea that tastes exquisitely like my almond wedding cake!

I haven’t tried any other almond black teas, so I don’t have much to go by in way of comparison, but that’s fine with me. Until and unless something better comes along (doubtful), I will be happily enjoying this for a long time.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 5 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML
Anna

Now I must try this and see how it compares with Pleine Lune!

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

80

For those who dislike rooibos, this would not be the tea for you. The rooibos is the predominant flavor here, with a burst of tart and tasty cranberry, which I really like. I think it’s quite nice.

I do like rooibos and find it preferable to many herbal/cafffeine-free tisanes. Rooibos has many things going for it, in my opinion. It is rich and somewhat sweet, a little dry and woody too, which is not a bad thing, and I love the deep red color. Furthermore, it goes well with a variety of additional flavorings like fruit or vanilla so it’s a pretty versatile “tea.” I learned to love rooibos when I was pregnant and limiting my caffeine consumption, and now it is my go-to beverage when I have reached my caffeine quota for the day but am still in need of a hot cuppa. Plus it has a ton of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals so it’s another winner health-wise!

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 5 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

88
drank Cream Assam by Gong Fu Tea Shop
61 tasting notes

This has been on my wish list for a long time. I finally succumbed to the temptation to buy it, and am not disappointed! It is a luxurious tea good for a special morning or as an after-dinner delight to drink with dessert. The honey and vanilla flavors are soft and gentle yet not overpowered by the rich Assam. I love the cream taste—it does indeed taste as if a few small spoonfuls of fresh, silky cream had been swirled around to meld with the tea, just enough for that rich creamy flavor to come through but without diluting the wonderful Assam (like real cream would if it had been added). Thus, this is perfect for people like me who don’t like to add cream or sugar to their tea, but occasionally desire a more rounded out flavor.

Full bodied, rich, and slightly creamy-sweet is how I would sum this up. Very nice!

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 5 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML
TeaTiff

I really liked this one. It was a nice pleasant tea in the morning.

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

95

I had another cup this morning and I could taste the apricot a little bit more. Nice!

Uh oh. squints at the bottom of the bag and sighs. Only one more teaspoon left!! So only one more cup remains to be enjoyed. :-( I considered brewing the last of it today but felt that would be an overindulgence so I will save it for a rainy day.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 5 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

95

This Yunnan has been a favorite of mine all winter, although I realized I hadn’t written a review of it yet! Time to get a note done before it’s all gone…which, as I only have a few teaspoonfuls left, is a likely to be soon.

I really like Yunnan black teas—they tend to be so smooth and tasty—and this Emporer’s Gold is a good one. The dry leaf smells sweet and chocolatey. The liquor is a lovely, a rich golden brown, with a fragrance that makes my mouth water before I even take a sip. It has a very nice flavor: smooth, lightly malty (but not a ‘thick’ malt taste) with a few chocolate and caramel notes and also a very slight but pleasant peppery bite. Mmmm!

Having ‘gold’ in the name is highly appropriate, not only because it literally describes some of the leaf color and also the golden brown liquor, but also in a sort of metaphorical sense too: like pure gold, which is bright and beautiful but very malleable, this is a brilliant and malleable black tea; solid but also soft and smooth on the palate. It doesn’t have the super bold strength of an Assam (which could be equated with Iron, to carry the metal analogy further, haha). And, as the description states, just like gold this tea is highly valuable and fit for an emperor! So I feel like royalty (or should I say royalTEA) every time I take a sip. Yum!

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 5 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML
Charissa

Okay, I had to go ahead and have another cup of this. It is just TOTALLY hitting the spot this morning and one cup was not enough to make my craving go away. I think it’s because I have been drinking a lot of stronger black teas like English Breakfast, Bolder Breakfast, and Assam this week so it’s nice to tone it down a notch and enjoy something a little different today.

Nicole

Funny – when I went to Gong Fu on my Iowa road trip, the kid working the counter said he had never heard of Yunnans. :) Now I need to go back! This sounds good and I would like to try some more of their teas!

Charissa

What?! I can’t believe he would be working there and not know about Yunnan black teas! Crazy. Maybe he was a new employee or something. lol

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

87

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

This was one of 3 she sent to try out different Gong Fu Tea shop teas. I have tried the other 2 and this is my favorite so far. Sweet, caramel, and honey notes. This is definitely Ceylon. It is very smooth. No hint of bitterness or astringency. I like! This would be AWESOME iced, but will also make for a great afternoon tea with a bit of honey. I think I will have to pick up a couple of ounces of this the next time I am in the shop. Thank you for sharing!

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 6 OZ / 177 ML
Charissa

Oooh I think you are right about adding a little bit of honey! I never add anything to my tea but I just might have to make an exception on this one, because I think it would be really tasty. Good idea!

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

100

This is the perfect tea, hot or cold, for even non-tea drinkers. I haven’t made this for anyone who hasn’t liked it. This has to be one of Gong Fu’s best sellers as they have it as one of their iced choices frequently.

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

66

I brewed this plain for about 5 minutes. The smell of the wet leaves is very strong in citrus and a spice I can’t place my finger on.

The orange flavor is bright and fresh. The tea leaves have a little astringency, but are not bitter.

Thank you TeaTiff for a great sample & introducing me to a new tea company.

Flavors: Cloves, Orange Zest

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 4 min, 30 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

78

A hint of orange with some sweeter spices in there (cinnamon, maybe? it’s hard to tell), this is a lovely tea that I’m quite happy to start my day off with.

Trying something new with Steepster today. Due to the snippets only showing the first certain number of characters from a community review, I’m sharing my thanks, my stories, my personal details later in my tealogs. Why? Because while I truly LOVE hearing about all of your lives, when I’m looking up a tea, I only want to read details of the tea specifically in those blurbs. Thus…

Thanks to TeaTiff for sharing such a lovely brew for Day Two of the 12 Days of Christmas Swap. This sipdown is a bit of a sad one, because this is the kind of tea that reminds me of growing up, and the kind of thing my Mom would make for me.

1.5 tsp in 12oz.

Flavors: Orange Zest

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 2 min, 30 sec 1 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML
Starfevre

That’s a really good idea.

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

69

Backlog! From about a week ago, I think.

I had this at school, again super late with the 12 Days swap, and again, I did have a cup closer to the actual swap.

The issue with having tea in a mug at school is that, well, you’re at school. So that if you suddenly have to read the part of Regan in King Lear, you can’t also drink tea. If you are taking a Greek quiz… well, you can drink tea. But It might be frowned upon. And it’s pretty hard to set a mug down on a slanted desk. Tea gets left for a bit and gets bitter. horribly bitter. and gross. I only managed to have half a mug of this before it turned to the dark side; however I did get another steep out of it during orchestra, which was nice. However, I think I left my mug in orchestra, which is not so nice. Whoops.

This was kind of mixed for me. I don’t generally like orange flavored black teas, so I wasn’t really expecting to like this a whole lot. And I didn’t really like it. The black itself was nice and earthy, but the spices confused me a bit. However, it most definitely wasn’t horrible, and I did have two mugs of it.

I mostly wish I had my mug back.

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

79

Sipdown (205)!

Wanted to get one in today while I had the computer to properly log it. I’m sad to see this one go, but I also felt silly hoarding the last cup worth when I really wanted to make it. I was really happy to receive this in the 12 Days gift exchange.

It tastes great today, though my first few sips were tomato heavy. Yeah, you read that right – I said (wrote) tomato. It’s my fault, I was being careless and stupid and I used the same spoon I was eating my Spiderman Alphaghetti with to test out the tea to see if it had steeped long enough. It’s all oily and kinda tomato-y now – but still good regardless.

This is what happens when I coop myself up in my house for long periods of time, with no regular internet access or music or anything to do with absolutely no one to talk to. I do stupid and maybe slightly insane things like shift all of the posters in the house over by a foot to see if they look better, and dip alphaghetti in my tea…

VariaTEA

I was at 205 yesterday! Then I went to a mall. That is not the case anymore…

Roswell Strange

I went to a mall yesterday too, except I had the restraint to not buy anything even though I really wanted to stop at Tea Desire to get some Caramel Pu’Erh.

VariaTEA

Also I laughed at the shifting of the posters. Did you move them back after deciding you liked it better at first?

Roswell Strange

Yeah, I moved them back. I have a lot of untapped time on my hands…

VariaTEA

Hahaha. Awesome. It is like a scene from a movie :P.

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

95
drank Milk Oolong by Gong Fu Tea Shop
64 tasting notes

I was so excited to see this tea in my mystery swap, as I’ve always wanted to try a milk oolong! The smell of it steeping is heavenly; it is a bit vegetal, yet buttery. I am happy that this tea is living up to what I imagined it to be! It’s mild, comforting, and creamy. I can’t wait to see what other flavors unfold as the cup cools! Thank you TeaTiff for sharing this special tea with me. Now I think I’m hooked!

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 3 min, 0 sec

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

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

I love this tea. I saw a post on the discussion boards about what tea would you take with you to Mars. This would be it! I have now had 2 other Milk Oolongs and this is by far my favorite of the bunch. Sweet floral taken over my a very creamy mouthful. I enjoy this tea most in the morning. This tea was the tea that launched me into exploring oolongs, and I am ever so thankful.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 3 min, 0 sec
Charissa

Yes, this is THE BEST! I actually get serious cravings for it during the day and fantasize about making myself a pot of it! It’s like precious gold to me, so I am trying very hard not to use it all up in one week…sigh so hard!

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

87

Day #2 of 12 Days of Christmas Tea Swap 2013. This tea smelled so good and it tasted just the same. There are times when I have been brewing tea lately when it smells soooo good, then when I drink it, it is not as good as it smelled. Well, this tea WAS as good as the smell. I did try without and with a touch of sugar, of course I preferred with. Thanks so much for this tea TeaTiff, it was wonderful!

TeaTiff

Glad you enjoyed it !!

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

drank Constant Companion by Gong Fu Tea Shop
1195 tasting notes

Ok really trying to catch up on teas now. I’m almost halfway through though, so that’s a plus! If I don’t include that I haven’t drank many of the secondary teas people included in the 12 Teas of Christmas swap haha.

This was really good, and I’m bummed I used it all up, but mostly because it was just the comforting flavor I needed when I drank it. It was like a tea hug. There’s just something about orange spice that feels good when you’re not feeling too well. I had added just a little sugar to it in hopes of giving it maybe some kind of spiced cookie taste which I enjoyed.

It also really reminded me of when we stuck cloves into an orange for Christmas at school. I have no idea why, because I remember making my mom let me make one at home and I FULLY covered that orange and then I think she never wanted me to do it again. But looking it up I found out a) it’s called a pomander and b) if you completely cover the surface of the peel with cloves it can last for months. I WAS THINKING LONG TERM, MOM.

Anna

Oh, I love pomanders – we make lots every year and hang all over the house. My fingertips hurt for days, but it smells so, so good – definitely worth it.

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

78

Er. Okay. So sometimes, from different windows, I can actually navigate Steepster. A second later, I can’t log in, much less log a tea.

From Day Two of the 12 Days of Christmas swap here on Steepster. Thank you TeaTiff! http://tinypic.com/r/f36deh/5

This tastes earthy again, and if I wasn’t 100% positive I was using a new cup, a fresh pot of hot water, and a teabag, I’d think this was the pu-erh that OMGsrsly gave me and that I steeped up the other day. Earthy, mildly sweet, thick, a touch of orange. I have a tiny bit left, and wonder how the tea will change when I actually steep this for the recommended time instead of the 14 minutes I left it for.

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 8 min or more

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

57

Day 2 from 12 Days of Christmas (Backlog~been quite ill)

Nicely Spiced…reminds me of Constant Comment which I love…one of my fave Christmas time teas

Thank You :~}

Lala

Hope you are feeling better soon. It looks like New Years is translating into sick steepsters day.

gmathis

I’m going to have to go get me some Constant Comment. Brings back some pleasant memories!

Sil

poor sick steepsters… hope everyone feels better soon!

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

85

Oh my, this is such a delightful treat! This would be a perfect black to pair with dessert, although it is so good I think it is dessert in and of itself! These delectable Ceylon black tips have a wonderfully smooth and sweet taste. I especially enjoy the lovely, lovely chocolate notes. The leaves themselves even smell of chocolate before they are steeped! How unusual to find a “chocolatey” tea that is naturally that way and not with added flavor. Yet the chocolate notes are just that: light notes that dance on the tongue in tune with the other flavors. Excellent!

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 5 min, 0 sec
Nicole

I need to get back up to Des Moines to hit up Gong Fu Tea Shop again for some of the teas I’m seeing reviewed on here. I was kind of overwhelmed by the wall o’ tins last time and stuck with what I was reasonably sure I’d like. :)

Charissa

Yes, their monstrous “wall of tea” is a bit daunting! That’s why I have to spend several days before I go there browsing their tea catalog, reading the descriptions of the tea offerings and narrowing it down by marking the ones I’m interested in trying… Then when I’m at the shop I can make my final selection(s). It’s always hard, though, because there are so many I want to try! :-)

Nicole

What I need to do is go with 3 or 4 other people and we all get a pot of something different. And then another pot of something different. :) I guess I’ll be there for awhile… :)

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

79

This is the tea I had picked out for day 2 of the 12 days of Christmas. The description and smell of the tea sounded like a good holiday tea and the name was very fitting to my day 2. It is a black tea with spice and orange which reminds me a lot of the smell coming from the kitchen in the winter time when I was little. My mom would always boil water with orange peel and spices. The taste for me is a bit strong on the spice side. I would like to get more of the citrus flavor from this tea. With a little sugar I do get more of the orange, but would like it to be a little stronger. This is one that I can see my self enjoying every once in awhile, particularly on the cold winter nights.

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec
Roswell Strange

I really enjoyed this one :)

Login or sign up to leave a comment.