Imperial Dark - Bu Lang Gong Ting 2009

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

Available from 1 seller.

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48 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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48 Tasting Notes

1104 tasting notes

Drowning myself 6-26-15 #1

The title of this tea had me thinking it was going to be real brisk and dark, however what I found was this had a typical color for a ripe pu’erh. The taste is quite nice, but there is some dry notes that come the first few steeps. I did flash brew this one (5s roughly) and found a great liquid to come about from it, but for my own taste for ripe this just wasn’t something I craved enough to put a cake in my wishlist. Thanks to whoever gave me a sample, this gave me 11 nice strong steeps!

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365 tasting notes

Brewed gongfu-style with a yixing pot. 10 second rinse. Steeping times: 5, 5, 5, 5, 20, 30, 60, 120.

The wet leaf has a very enjoyable aroma, sweetly smelling of fertile damp earth and of bitter cocoa. The liquor is full-bodied, rich with notes of earth and sugarcane, and creamy in texture. Warming and comforting on this icy, rainy day.

This shou is not entirely clear, it’s a little cloudy, and remained so for nearly the entirety of the session. Also, I think it is best suited for being brewed Western-style. The leaf weakened only after the second steeping, hence the wide change in steeping seconds. Kind of disappointing. Because I only had enough for one helping, I’m not rating. Still, I do recommend.

Boiling 7 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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518 tasting notes

This isn’t bad, but it’s not as good as I hoped. I like Special Dark a whole lot better.

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253 tasting notes

This is one of those teas that I’m glad that I was able to sample before committing to buying it. It’s was actually really good on the first steep and pretty good on the second steep, but after that I found it difficult to get a good amount of flavor out of it, even when steeping for several minutes. So while it does taste nice, I prefer my teas to have a lot more stamina than that so I doubt I’ll be purchasing this one.

Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 9 g 5 OZ / 160 ML

Oh, 150 ml. Lol


Yes… gong ting is the smallest grade leaf for ripe pu’er. Because it is not blended with larger leaves, the flavor will only work for a couple of steeps (depending of course, on leaf/water ratio and length of steeping times). Brewed gongfu style, this tea will go on for quite a while. Most customers are doing one or two western style brews with this one and it is quite a hit at the cafes/restaurants/coffee and tea shops we sell it to where they are only brewing once or twice.

When we get into blending this leaf with larger leaves, then you have the conditions for smaller leaves to give up flavor earlier and then the larger leaves (properly processed) will come to life and take over.

Fun, ain’t it?

Thank you for writing up your experience.

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486 tasting notes

Its not a first time try. I wonder why i didnt log it. I thought i did.
Anyways, since its not a new tea i made it in my Yixing. i decided to use more than usual because i think my Yixing “steals” some flavors.
its great tasting shou and its really hit the spot.

Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 10 g 4 OZ / 130 ML

Awesome picture :)


Thank you Kirkoneill1988


I like this one! The Yixing will steal at first, but eventually should give back (round some rough edges in ‘Bad Boy’ Puerhs) :P

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1732 tasting notes

Brewed this western style this morning. This is another winner of a loose ripe puerh from Mandala Tea. I did not realize I had already written a tasting note on this one. This has notes of chocolate and is very creamy in texture. It is sweet. Evven brewed western style in the first steep there is almost zero bitterness, just a barely perceptible amount. Adding a little sugar to this makes the chocolate notes taste like hot chocolate. This is good.

I brewed this once in an 18oz teapot with 6.2g leaf and boiling water for 30 sec.

Flavors: Chocolate

Boiling 0 min, 30 sec 6 g 18 OZ / 532 ML

Ooh, sounds yummy!

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149 tasting notes

Sample from an order from who-knows-when. I’m not very good at keeping track of samples— they just sort of turn up in my tea trunk when I’m not expecting it.

Just on my first steep (about 30 seconds), I swear I can taste banana bread with a hint of dark chocolate chips. Glancing through others’ notes, I don’t think anyone’s mentioned anything about bananas, so I’m a bit baffled as to where that came from.

I have no idea what’s going on with my tongue, but I’m definitely enjoying this shu so far!

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2392 tasting notes

MzPriss’ Unflavored Tea Box – Tea #14
I could be wrong but I think I’m starting to taste that the high quality pu-erh has a mellower, sweet flavor than the lower quality pu-erh made with tiny leaves that has a very dark deep flavor. I like both types of pu-erh and I’m actually glad that they are different but I REALLY like the deep dark (I guess low quality) pu-erh. I could have been using too many leaves then though. Of course, I’m not finding any of that darkness with any of Mandala’s pu-erhs. Even with Special Dark that I tried months ago, I was surprised that I wasn’t finding it as especially dark as some other pu-erhs I’ve tried. Of course it’s a delicious pu-erh, but not necessarily dark. I’m just glad every pu-erh is slightly different from the next!

This one is very mellow and sweet, it tasted like butternut squash but there was a crisp, bright and fresh flavor to it as well. Even though there was hint of pond scent to the dry leaves, there really wasn’t any in the flavor. The second cup was much of the same on a slightly deeper level, but not really anything like dark chocolate. Never astringent, as pu-erh isn’t usually anyway.
Steep #1 // 1 1/2 tsp // few mins after boiling // 2 min
Steep #2 // just boiled // 3 min

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1812 tasting notes

Brewing this in my yixing, which is thankfully seeing more use than it was a week ago. Unfortunately, I realized that the glue on one corner of my tea tray has been splitting, due to the hot water, and pu’erh has been seeping through the seams. Thank goodness for a tile countertop being underneath. Still…

These infusions were very loosely timed. The first one was supposed to be for twenty seconds, but I think it ended up at about thirty. The tea is not incredibly dark; despite a rinse of a couple of seconds, I think the leaves are still awakening. The tea does not smell too rich, but there are some cocoa notes with the earthiness. It tastes very smooth, if a little less intense than I would expect, but this was only the first steep. As I sip this steep, I already started and completed brewing the second steep. The cup finishes with some dark chocolate/cocoa notes.

Steep two is darker in appearance. The flavor has deepened a bit but not quite as far as I usually enjoy. I think I will run the third steep for forty-five seconds to a minute, rather than just adding ten to fifteen seconds. This one was steeped for thirty.

Third steep for a minute – dark and delicious. Still very smooth, not super earthy.

We shall see how long this can go.


My friend Dexter says this is Special Dark’s little brother…and I have to agree :-)


I would agree with that statement! It lacks a lot of the intense dark chocolate notes that the Special Dark holds.


Steep four and five, for 65 and 80 seconds, respectively, were less than ideal in terms of strength, so I topped off the yixing pot with water and am going to let it sit for the “long steep”


One of the important things to remember is that this tea is gong ting, the smallest grade leaf for a pu’er. The smaller the leaf, the more quickly it will give up flavor in early infusions.

Alot of times, pu’er is made into blends with other larger leaves so that smaller leaves give up more in early infusions while larger leaves give up more in later ones. That being said, even though a gong ting may be brewed several times, the flavor will most definitely get lighter with subsequent infusions.

We have alot of customers, though, who enjoy this tea steeped once at a longer time. Flash rinse followed by one long steep. Alternately, try maybe 1 quick one infusion (following the rinse) and then one long one. Pays to experiement and find out what makes it your cup of tea!


Thanks, Garret! I am going to try your recommendations, tomorrow. I appreciate the advice on the tea!

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278 tasting notes

First of all. I need some moral support. I’ve only been drinking my loose pu’erhs because I can’t bring myself to break apart my new pu’erh cakes!!!! They’re just so pretty and perfect, all wrapped up with so much potential!!!

This video is making me super sad LOL

So this tea…

Method: 1tbsp, 8 oz, 30 sec (1 minute) (1 minute), 208 degrees, brew in mug strainer

Dry Leaf Aroma: Earthy, but with a chocolate note that’s very enticing

Flavor: it tastes a little musty, but smooth, and I’m enjoying the chocolate notes. I guess that earthy sort of note is just the usual for many pu’erhs?

Boiling 1 min, 15 sec 3 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML
Cameron B.

Maybe take off the papers very carefully and keep them! Or frame them! :)


LOL Cam! Maybe I need a pu’erh wrapper scrapbook!

Do most people break them up all at once like the video, I wonder? I got the impression that little bits were just broken off here and there.


Some pu’erh is “earthy” – like a forest in the rain, fresh clean mud (if such a thing exists)
some is earthy – but more in a cave subterranean sort of way
some is earthy – but musty, barn yard esque
I love all of it – as long as it’s clean fresh dirt. The bad pu’erh is swampy, dirty, icky


I don’t break up a whole cake – I just unwrap them, break a chunk off and rewrap them. You’ll be ready soon, the OMG I have to try that will kick in, and you’ll be diving in…


The third steep at about 1.25 minutes was nicer. Thus definitely was NOT swampy or icky, so maybe it’s just a matter of being an acquired taste.

LOL. If I still can’t bust one open tomorrow, I may have to employ you as the Pu’erh Cake Breaker Enforcer. :p


Anytime – just send me your cake, I’ll break it up and send it back to you – well send most of it back to you, might take a little as payment…. :))


Just break off the amount from each cake or brick and keep the rest intact if you don’t plan to drink it quickly. makes storage easy. When I break a cake I start from the circle indentation on the back and work from there. Gives you a good starting point.


Hahahahahaaaa!!! OMG you are super funny!

I think I’ll just bite the bullet and break up my own cake, but I’m more than willing to share if you see anything that interests you. :)


Sorry, mrmopar, not sure what you mean when you say that you start from the indentation. Do you mean that you break tea off from the “rim” of the indentation?


Me too – I break from the indent. Turn the cake over, so that the smooth side is down, indent is up. I press gently down, circling the around the cake (especially if it hard compressed)listening for cracking sounds. I find it easier to loosen it up a bit first. Then I insert pick into the edge of the indent (pick facing outward towards the edge of the cake). I really need to just find the video that I used the first time. Your video was ok, but that was a pretty loosely pressed cake, they all don’t break that easily….


This is the video from Teavivre… She says to break from the back to keep it looking good…
This one has the first step I was talking about – to loosen it a bit before you start stabbing it. I only do this is it’s really compressed.
You just need to find a technique that works for you,,,

Terri HarpLady

I’m with MrM & Dex, prying off tea from the center of the back of the cake, so I can keep the shape for as long as possible.


Awesome video and suggestions! I’ll try the indentation method tomorrow. Thanks, tea friends!!!


Yep that’s the way. It also helps make them easier to re-wrap.


If it really a difficult cake, start the car, place cake behind back tire and put it in reverse. ;)


So happy you’ve started enjoying your pupu haul :-)

And break them cakes please!!!


Cwyn, that is too funny!!! I can just picture my neighbors and the police officer who lives behind me looking out their windows and being like WTF is Sarsy doing this time!!! I live in the city, so were closely packed here. :)

TTF: today is the day!!!!

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