Imperial Dark - Bu Lang Gong Ting 2009

Tea type
Pu'erh Tea
Not available
Creamy, Dark Chocolate, Earth, Berry, Bread, Chocolate, Butternut Squash, Cocoa, Coffee, Mushrooms, Autumn Leaf Pile, Nutty, Pastries, Wet Earth
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Edit tea info Last updated by tea-sipper
Average preparation
Boiling 1 min, 15 sec 7 g 9 oz / 274 ml

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56 Tasting Notes View all

  • “I haven’t been drinking much puerh lately, but I think that will be changing especially now that the rainy season appears to be upon us here in San Francisco. I don’t tend to drink much shu pu-erh...” Read full tasting note
  • “Somehow, I drank green & white teas almost all day. A couple of Dragonwells, some white, & before I knew it the day was nearly gone. I realized around 6:00 that I really wanted something...” Read full tasting note
  • “My first time using my yixing pot (after a seasoning). I sat with my Zojurishi (sp?) and enjoyed multiple steepings which were seamless with that wonderful machine from Mandala! Steep One: 30...” Read full tasting note
  • “I still love this one. It’s just easy to drink, not fussy, not finicky – let it steep for 6 minutes on your desk and it just gets deeper with out anything nasty happening. Honestly this one...” Read full tasting note

From Mandala Tea

We totally scored with this find! We have sampled so many different ripe teas over the years both in China and here at our shop. Samples are continuously sent here from various tea merchants and most of the time, we find them ok at best. But when we tasted this gong ting (imperial court quality, smallest leaf) tea, we immediately had every last bit of it shipped to us so we could share it with our customers not to mention drink it ourselves!

Hailing from Bu Lang mountain in Menghai, this is an expertly crafted tea. Rich and sweet, hints of dark chocolate and slight nuttiness with a creamy aroma becoming more pronounced as the post-fermentation smell quickly becomes a memory. We are sure that this gong ting, given a bit more age, will easily rival our favorite Golden Gong Ting from 2005. We are extremely pleased when all the conditions come together to create a memorable tea and this, my friend, is one of those teas.

Brewing Recommendations: Gong Fu Cha Method

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56 Tasting Notes

2816 tasting notes

I haven’t been drinking much puerh lately, but I think that will be changing especially now that the rainy season appears to be upon us here in San Francisco. I don’t tend to drink much shu pu-erh at all when the weather is warm. This shu is delicious, especially after the first steep is gone. Nice flavors of chocolate and fruit are present with a very creamy mouthfeel here in this tea. Great for a mid-afternoon pickup here in the damp.

Boiling 4 min, 0 sec

I just got off the phone with my son in S.F., talked about the rain. I’ll have to see if I have some if this. I need to keep better records on my Pu-erh. This one sounds really good!


I like it! :)


That sounds so good!


Yay! I am sooo happy to see people enjoying this one so much, especially since I bought over 200 lbs of it :)


@Garret how does this one compare to the Gong Ting 2005 version? 200 lbs is one big mound of tea I am assuming you feel this must be an awesome tea eh. Well I guess the reviews speak for itself eh. LOL!


HI! That 2005 gong ting was ripened in very small batches in cotton bags, much more controlled. Besides the fact that the 2005 has 4 more years under its belt, too, the 2009 gong ting is dang good right now. I was impressed with it enough when I first bought it to buy a bunch more and Im glad I did, because in just these last 6 to 8 months, it has changed quite a bit and people are liking it alot. Storage has alot to do with it and we keep all of our pu’ers at the right temp and humidity for some pretty prime aging. I look forward to seeing what this 2009 gong ting will be like in 2 to 3 more years, that’s for sure. I think for right now, the 2005 has a little more body/thickness in the tea liquor itself, a little more beefiness on the tongue, more depth to the flavor. I am happy with them both!

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3294 tasting notes

Somehow, I drank green & white teas almost all day. A couple of Dragonwells, some white, & before I knew it the day was nearly gone. I realized around 6:00 that I really wanted something else. I wanted a nice rich dark cup that was full of grounding qualities. I wanted a cup of Puerh! I didn’t want to sit around with a Gaiwan, doing multiple steeps & comparing sips. Sometimes I like to do that, but sometimes I just want a nice fully brewed cup. So that’s what I had.

I got this Gong Ting a few weeks ago in my Mandala order, but this is my first time drinking it. I steeped a heaping tsp in an 8oz or so cup for 3 minutes. Smooth, rich, mellow, earthy, a little sweet. I sat with that cup, sipping & savoring while listening to my final student of the day, & it was just what I wanted, just what I needed.


I totally just sent an email to Garret asking him to take pity on me and help me with some suggestions for a birthday order lol


Special Dark, Sil. Special Dark. I’m a bit obsessive :)


hahaha well i can’t place the order until July but i’m trying to sort out what i want to try ahead of time. That also means i need to try the other 2 you sent me!!!


If I can put my two cents worth in. The Noble Mark is amazing ( I would also trust Garret’s advice, I think next time I might just send him money and let him choose. The samples I get are usually right on the money to my tastes.


haha all recommendations welcome. I know i’ll be reading reviews etc but i’m a relative newbie in the puerh world so i figured i’d see what his thoughts were. :)


I’m sorta convinced that Garret has sample selecting superpowers. He added a sample in my birthday order that I had on my list to order but, for some reason, didn’t. I may let him just select my order the next time. May save me math stress and I know the teas will be great.

And I second the Noble Mark. In a big way.


Me too, newbie to the world of pu’erh. Noble Mark is special, needs to be treated with respect, take your time savor it. Bu Lang Gong Ting, I wrote almost exactly what Terri is saying here. It’s great, but it’s more an everyday, easy tea. Pour some water over it and enjoy kind of tea.
(I also really really really liked the Mandala Tea Silver Buds Raw 2011 – totally different, equally amazing).
Phatty Cake and Special Dark are next on my to try list – I have them just haven’t tried them yet.

Terri HarpLady

Sil, I’m gonna send samples of all my puerhs to you, including the Noble Mark, the gong ting, the King of bulang, & a bunch others. That’s your birthday present from me, a rediculous collection of puerh samples. Do you want both shu & sheng, or just shu?


Terri….uh no idea! Lol and that’s awesome, thank you! I really haven’t tried much or what I I did try I had in china and have no idea what I was drinking lol

Terri HarpLady

You’ll get both then!
(Pulling out her scale & baggies, like a dope dealer from the 70’s)


Hahaha Terri – I totally feel like a dope dealer when I’m making my little sample packs.:P

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807 tasting notes

My first time using my yixing pot (after a seasoning).
I sat with my Zojurishi (sp?) and enjoyed multiple steepings which were seamless with that wonderful machine from Mandala!

Steep One: 30 Seconds (after an initial rinse)
Light, Juicy mouthfeel, Dry in back of throat, Mushroom flavors, Spicy, Creamy, and my favorite flavor.. Leafy!

Steep Two: 45 Seconds
Leafy, Oaky, More Creamy than first steep, Autumnal Flavors and aromas like being in the woods after a light rain in Autumn! Love it!

Steep Three: 1 Minute
Leafy aromas with an amazing mossy flavor again the wet leaves in Autumn flavors but more prominent!
Drier, Earthy, Hay, Tingly, Mushroom.

Steep Four: 1:15 Minutes
Light, Clean, Milky, Nutty

Steep Five: 1:30 Minutes
Weaker on flavor in this steeping, Mellow, Leafy, Sweetness coming out!

Steep Six: 2:00 Minutes
About the same as the last cup but sort of getting weak. I went for another steep anyway.

Steep Seven: 2:30 Minutes
Mossy, Juicy and now Fruity!

Steep Eight: 2:45
No real flavors present although a light golden color. No notes taken, by this time I was absorbed into a movie (Red Tails – GREAT movie!)

Overall I was surprised to find I did not get any of the chocolate notes as in the description but was not disappointed! I think I will allow this to age quite a bit and re-visit it later on.
I did enjoy it very much and there were some wonderful flavor notes and a few surprises even once I began to think it was past it’s steep-ability!

A nice tea with mellow flavors through out that over all remind of me my favorite season! You can’t beat that!

On another note. My husband at first said it smelled fishy. Again that FISHY word but I proved something to him and myself.
I said rather than fishy think of it as MUSHROOMY!
He disagreed so I made him go get an organic mushroom from the fridge!
He took a bite and said OMG your right!!!

I think the two flavors are similar in some ways but distinctly different enough. Plus for most mushroom is more palatable to stomach than “fishy”.

ALSO he drank with me the entire time! I was sooooo shocked and happy!


sounds lovely!


Thank you :) It was.

Hesper June

Isn’t just lovely when they (the men) do that?
I am so happy that you had such a lovely tea and such a nice time with your fella:)


I wish I could get my fiance to drink with me. He’s usually pretty good about trying new teas that I steep but he always says they just seem like hot water. headdesk I can’t wait until I get my puerh order in and then we’ll see what he says. :)
Woo comment problems.


I hope that it works for him Kiaharli! He may need a more kick in the face flavor palate!

Thank you Hesper June! :)


Sounds great.

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1040 tasting notes

I still love this one. It’s just easy to drink, not fussy, not finicky – let it steep for 6 minutes on your desk and it just gets deeper with out anything nasty happening.
Honestly this one reminds me a little of Special Dark – yes this is more pu’erh esq – but it has a hint of chocolate and a lot of the notes of Special Dark. Smooth, cocoa notes, bit sweet, touch of earthy, just fabulous. It resteeps forever, doesn’t really go through too many drastic changes, just cup after cup of awesomeness.
If you like Special Dark, I’m suggesting you think of this one as it’s little brother. Similar, but just not quite as in your face.


Well noted :-)


i think mandala has another sale. This is on sale. thank you for the review, i wasn’t going to order. but now its a must;)


Uggg I did not know this was on sale – thanks (?) for mentioning it. :)) You can’t really go wrong with any of the Mandala pu’erhs. This one is really nice if you don’t want to fuss with gaiwan or yixing – just want a quick everyday cup of pu’erh.
Hope you enjoy it.


dex…there will be another sale!


Ok, I’m gonna be a little harder on you than Sil:
Dex, how could you EVER miss a Mandala sale???


I’m trying to be good. I JUST got a HUGE MANDALA order, I haven’t been looking at their site – need to avoid another order until I get cupboard under control – I didn’t know it was on sale….

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1113 tasting notes

I sure have been drinking a lot of puerh lately, huh?

Today I steeped this one at a lower temp for a longer time. I got more creamy nuttiness and less mushroom notes. Yummmmmmm!

Speaking of shu, has anyone encountered this before??×700.jpg It’s puerh tea aged inside an orange rind! I’M SO CURIOUS ABOUT IT!


I have had those orange rind puerhs before, they’re good. Some people put a little bit of the rind in with the tea while steeping.


OMG I WANT ONE! Teavivre has a tangerine one, and I’ve got reward points to use…hmm


i love those! I’ve had a few now and while the orange isn’t as strong as i want sometimes, i haven’t been disappointed yet :)


Seen and tasted those a lot. If you are searching for a supplier I know a few.


Stephanie, I have a Teavivre tangerine pu’erh sample on the way, I’ve never had any either and I’m very intrigued by it, can’t wait to try!


Awesome The TeaFairy! :)

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286 tasting notes

I’ve already reviewed this tea once before, but I’m drinking it again this morning while watching the snow fall.

Not that I’ve tried many pu’erhs (hoping to change that for 2015), but of the ones I have, this is my favourite. Upfront notes of spice, with an underlying earthiness and maybe some autumn leaves. As the cup cools the mushrooms become prominent.

A sample that was shared by Dexter – thank you!

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157 tasting notes

Needed a shu to get me going this morning! I haven’t been drinking much puerh since the winter/early spring. It’s something I typically reserve for cooler weather, when I need something to warm my bones…And it usually does the trick. (: Interesting to revisit an old favorite after so long. I used 2tsp of leaf to about 10oz of boiling water, rinsing for 15 seconds first. Steep times were 35sec, 40sec, and 1min 15. Every steep was creamy, nutty, and mushroom-earthy. Each flavor had varying intensities but for the most part each steep was very similar. Notes of baked bread gained strength with every infusion.

Overall I would say Bu Lang Gong Ting makes a bold cup with light sweetness, pastry/bread notes, some fruit/berry undertones, and a strong earthiness about it. Lowering the rating a tad because it’s not very complex—it’s comfortably consistent and reliable. Not very fussy either. Nonetheless, it’s still one of my favorite shu’s.

Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Berry, Bread, Creamy, Mushrooms, Nutty, Pastries, Wet Earth


Great job with your notes! And you are right about complexity of this tea. It has wonderful characteristics by itself and brews up a wonderful western style brew. But for gong fu style brewing, I like to blend in some larger leaf material to keep it more interesting in later steeps.

The flavors you bring up in your notes are spot on for me, too.

As far as the ripe pu’er in cooler weather, that definitely rings true for many. In Chinese medicine all foods, drink, etc are seen as having a thermal nature – they can be cooling, neutral or warming. The lighter, less processed teas are seen as cooling, oolongs (for the most part) as neutral, and darker teas as warming. We really see it reflected in our sales as the lighter tea sales increase as weather warms and the inverse when weather cools. Seriously an inverse relationship.

I hope you are having a super spectacular day, my friend! Thanks for the notes!


I’ve never tried gong fu brewing with this one. Maybe I need to do that next. I tried a 5 minute steep this morning and it was delicious! Like a breakfast pastry, somehow the long steep brought out more hidden sweetness and a buttery flavor. Seriously good.

I have heard that before. Oolongs typically have a cooling effect on my body temperature—especially high mountain oolongs. In winter I would drink puerh before trekking across university campus for class. If I drank it right before leaving, I would hardly notice the wind chill on my face and hands. If I drank other kinds of tea—oolong, green tea—it wouldn’t have the same effect. I can always feel my body temp rise after drinking puerh. Other teas served at the same temperature won’t necessarily do that. I always thought it was fascinating…I didn’t read anything about it until months later.

I hope you’re having a lovely day as well! Thank you for the wonderful tea!

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97 tasting notes

I think this was my first ever transcendent tea moment. From the first sip, I was immediately in love with this tea. It was perfect. I was in utter awe while enjoying this tea. I am a former coffee drinker. You just don’t get that from coffee so this was a kind of milestone for me.

1st Steep- 30 seconds
Very leathery and, it’s going to sound strange, but there is also a note of parchment. I’m a book lover so this first steep worked very well for me. The smell of parchment and leather always brings happy memories. There was also a bit of bittersweet chocolate on the finish.

2nd Steep-45 seconds
The dark chocolate really came out. There was also a nutty hazelnut flavor. I loved this steep. I’m not a fan of Nutella but that is what it reminded me of. Maybe I just like it in tea?

3rd Steep-1 minute
The third steep is always my favorite for some reason. There was a lovely vanilla bean flavor with a brown sugar finish. In a way, it kind of reminded me of crème brulee with the brown sugar crackle on the top.

4th Steep-1.30 minutes
I got a lot of cinnamon. Very light and naturally sweet. There was also still a bit of the brown sugar flavor with some honey coming through. I love this steep almost as much as I love the 3rd one.

5th Steep-2 minutes
Honey. This steep was just one note but it was intense. And delicious.

6h Steep-3 minutes
This final steep was suddenly very fruity. Like peach. Maybe my taste buds are in a tizzy but it came out of nowhere.

Yet again, there came a point where I had to stop brewing this tea because it got late but I could have brewed this tea over and over again. This tea was perfection. Complete and utter perfection. I loved this tea. I wish I had bought more than an ounce of it because I could drink this everyday.

Boiling 0 min, 30 sec

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39 tasting notes

well,i lied..i said that I would try the year of the dragon shu this evening but instead im trying this one…this is nice…I really enjoy Bulang teas raw or ripe…another winner from Mandala…110ml gaiwan 8g tea…

Terri HarpLady

I was looking at this one earlier in my sample box! I really enjoyed it & still have enough to enjoy it again

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15442 tasting notes

I don’t always write a tasting note for it but one of my favourite things to do over the course of an afternoon working from home will be to brew up a shou to drink at my desk – sometimes Western, sometimes gongfu, and something just lazy style. This was one of those times with a Western steeping method. I just find shou makes for a grounded feeling cuppa with the right rich density to put me in a good space while working and kind of work as a bit of a back drop tea. What I mean by that is that I don’t always really pay attention to the tea itself; it just kind of acts as an in the moment anchor to hold enough of my focus that I’m not distracted while working but not so much of my focus it’s preventing me from doing my work. Does that make sense!?

I don’t reaaalllyyyy love this shou so it’s a good one because it doesn’t feel wasteful to use it in this method. The times I did notice the flavour I found it more brothy and mushroom-y with a bit of a mild dankness to the overall savory/umami profile. Nothing fancy but also nothing foul.

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