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
Sold in
Not available
Not available
Not available
Edit tea info Last updated by Jason
Average preparation
Boiling 1 min, 15 sec 7 g 9 oz / 274 ml

Available from 1 seller.

From Our Community

1 Image

16 Want it Want it

  • +1

29 Own it Own it

  • +14

50 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

About Mandala Tea View company

Company description not available.

50 Tasting Notes

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!!!!

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

364 tasting notes

Oh, oh, look! A new Mandala pu’erh!!

Ok, I’ve never had this one before. So I took my glass gongfu pot and decided that we were going to have our first date together.

Woah! This tea is not the shy type. It is bold an it’s taking charge.

Rich and creamy, with leather and barn notes.

I wish you could smell the wet leaves. They smell like a big pile of damp oak and maple leaves in the fall. It’s a scent of the forest and the outdoors, just can’t get enough of it.

It’s super flavourful, reminds me of Special Dark a lot but not as chocolaty and a little sweeter.

It gets richer and creamier as I steep it. I like the nuttiness in the background that develops, it’s a little hazel-nutty.

At the fourth steep, I forgot to poor…the water stayed in for almost 15 minutes. There’s a good 7g of tea in a tiny 5oz pot, but it didn’t get too strong or astringent.

I’m so happy I took advantage of the sale to hoard it!

There will be many other dates with this one, and I can’t wait :-)


It’s a yummy one allright, I live Special Dark and Noble Mark more but I love this one a lot.


Tea hoarder!


this is one of my favourites


It really is something special…I just haven’t come across a shou pu’erh from Mandala that I don’t like!

(I admit to tea hoarding, look at my cup-hoard!!!!)


LMAP @ cup-hoard. I just got the Old Nuggets for the firat time, I need to get those out and try them


Thanks for the Imperial Dark / Special Dark comparison.
“It gets richer and creamier as I steep it. I like the nuttiness in the background that develops, it’s a little hazel-nutty.” – Sounds intriguing!


I went to read my note – couldnt find. Oops, Steepster ate it. Again.


(Why did I not send you some of this? Bad Dex!!!)
I thought this was Special Dark’s little brother – but I still don’t understand the leather thing….


Did I get old nuggets? Can’t remember lol, we’ll see when “hoard-er” #3 comes in!!

LooseTman, there’s already a large sample in your box…lol, will have to send you that box one of these days…but I keep waiting for stuff to arrive. I should mail it early next week, will let you know :-)


Boychik, I know right? Where do they go, do they expire or something? Maybe there’s a steepster note cemetery somewhere that we are unaware of…

Dexter, Special Dark’s little brother is exactly that! And you did not HAVE to send me any, silly. (i will have 8oz of it, buzz me if YOU want any!!)


“… there’s already a large sample in your box…lol,”
TheTeaFairy, You’re too kind! :-D (No rush, whenever it’s convenient.)


“Oops, Steepster ate it. Again.”
boychik, It’s very time-inefficient when that happens and aggravating too! Life is too short! I now compose my notes in Word and then cut and paste them into Steepster.


looseTman, good idea. I remember I had that discussion with other Steepsterers what if ….I don’t want to mention, don’t want to jinx it. We need a back up. My hubby is database administrator. Programs crush all the time:(((

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

294 tasting notes

I learned my lesson with Temple Stairs and gave this two rinses before doing my first steep. To me this smells like the other two Shu Pu-erhs I’ve tried from Mandala, like a pond. I’m starting to appreciate it, because I’m starting to associate the smell with the much more pleasant tastes of pu-erhs.

1st Steep 30 seconds: I’m assuming rinsing is to thank for the lack of pond water taste in this cup, for which I’m most thankful. First of, this and the other two puerhs I’ve had from mandala all have been so smooth and silky in the mouth feel. It’s very pleasant, and even with that first not rinsed cup of Temple Stairs, I appreciated it. I’m getting that flavor that I get from all puerhs, that sort of earthy flavor. I don’t eat mushrooms because the texture freaks me out, but that might be what this note is. There’s also a creaminess to it.

2nd Steep 1 minute: There’s a hint of spice hiding out in this cup! It was there on the first sip, but when I look for it I can’t find it. And then I let my guard down, and it pokes its head up. And I found the cocoa! If I loudly slurp this one I get it as I swallow (I like to slurp to aerate the tea so that I can pick up on more notes).

3rd Steep 90 seconds: At this point I got tired of getting up to go make more tea every 5 minutes (lazy, I know) so I made 3 steeping into 3 different cups and brought them all back to my room with me. This is much like the second, but with more cocoa.

4th Steep 2 minutes: I’m starting to get a nice nuttyness now. Mmm chocolate and nuts go so good together.

5th Steep 2.5 minutes: The texture is slightly thinner on this one. I’m getting honey this time, and the cocoa is more like milk chocolate. And it might just be the power of suggestion, but I’m feeling a little tea drunk. Considering I just drank 3 cups back to back its possible though.

6th-8th Steeps: Made three more at once, adding a minute each time. They were all much like the last cup. Cocoa and honey and yummy.

205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 30 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

Took me 2 hours to write this xD


2 hours and it shows, lovely review :-)

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

41 tasting notes

Rich and dark, not too earthy, smooth with a sweet finish. This is one of my favorites from Mandala Tea. My only criticism would be it does not seem to steep as many times as some other ripe pu-erh’s, perhaps only 5-7 steepings but the first 4 are delicious!

Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 6 g 6 OZ / 185 ML

Hi, pal! The gong ting grade
Is the smallest grade leaf so it will definitely give it up in fewer infusions than larger leaf or blends that have a combo of different size leaves. But this gong ting packs some great flavor in those few infusions, just like you said. Glad you dig it!!

With gratitude,

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

1779 tasting notes

Sipdown! 166
Thank you Sil! This is so good! It really reminds me of Special Dark, but that just might be because it’s a nice puerh with lots of chocolate notes, and it doesn’t make me think of dirt. I can’t remember what makes the other one different, but I do know that I am enjoying this one. Yay for good puerh!


Nice, I’m glad you’re finding time to explore them…I’m hoping I can do that a little tomorrow…


I’m enjoying the chance. I just wish I could differentiate them better.


i still struggle with that. mostly i have “stuff i like” and “stuff don’t” but don’t ask me to tell you why lol


There’s where ranking tea can get really difficult. :P That’s why I like having a repurchase (Y/M/N) column on my spreadsheet! Sums it up nice and easy!


I have one of those too, Cavo. And then the Y’s also get letter grades reflecting how much I liked them at the time, as well as notes describing the flavour. I still wish I could DL Steepster infos into a CSV file…


Yes to that omg lol

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

648 tasting notes

Another pu-erh sample from the very kind MzPriss!

After drinking flavored teas all day yesterday, I knew I wanted to start today with something bold. Perfect time for pu-erh tasting!

I will tell you what happened with this one, I forgot to rinse it (because I’m not used to having to do that), and let the first steep sit for about a minute, looked at it and it was BLACK. Said to myself “aw crap I forgot to rinse” then took a sip anyway, decided I was nowhere near ready for that, and dumped it….consider that a very long rinse.

Next, I let it steep about 30-45 seconds, it was much milder. No mushrooms! Just earthy, and a vague dark chocolate note. It was still dark enough that I decided to add milk…. Wow!

What a creamy and smooth tea! Right now I prefer this to the Special Dark but I know I kinda messed that one up so I will try again. I’m going to be resteeping this several more times this afternoon!

Thanks, MzPriss!


They are darker when they aren’t rinsed? Interesting.


You are very welcome! I’m glad you like it, and as someone mentioned the other day, it’s really interesting how different everyone’s taste is. Special Dark is like crack for me, and this one – not so much. I should have warned you to rinse this one. I don’t bother with a rinse for Special Dark. I just drink it. A lot of it. Like a junkie. The note from Garret in my last order was something like, “Say, you don’t like Special Dark much do you???”

ohfancythat (whatshesaid)

Hahahaha too funny!

I’m going to drink special dark your way next…that is to say, the way where I don’t stress out too much over steeping times, I might just go western since that’s how I roll mostly anyway :)

ohfancythat (whatshesaid)

Courtney, I’m not sure if that’s true or not, but my “rinse” this time was like a one minute steep so it makes sense it was lighter after

I don’t know if it’s lighter after a normal pu’erh drinker’s rinse :P


I rinse special dark (quick rinse 5 second swish) and then steep something crazy like 7-8 minutes. That’s how I like it, but you should play with it and find your favorite times. :))

ohfancythat (whatshesaid)

Good to know :)
I think I’m going to try a nice long steep and see how it goes!


Dexter – I have been known to steep it for 7 minutes too

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

155 tasting notes

Very smooth, earthy and shu-y. A really easy to drink shu. Deep, dark and slighty cocoa-y. This is good. It will never replace Special Dark for me but it is nice to have on hand. A very mellow and laid back start to my morning. I’m glad I have this.

Flavors: Cocoa

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

417 tasting notes

Casey made vegan ribs (they were amazing) and mashed potatoes for my birthday dinner, and Allie and Andy came over and brought a vegan chocolate cake and raw cheesecake (also, Casey had baked a pumpkin pie, so had a lot of desserts). I’m holding back rating this one, because my mouth was too full of cake and pie to really give the flavor of the tea proper attention. It was yummy, though. :-)

Boiling 0 min, 30 sec 3 tsp 24 OZ / 709 ML

Happy Birthday! Sounds like an amazing b-day dinner!


Happy birthday!


Thank you both!

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

9038 tasting notes

Dexter inspired me. I’m sure i’ve had this before but i guess i forgot to log it? I’m too lazy to deal with a gaiwan today so i just made this up as a western brew and let it steep. for ages. sooo good! i’m almost tempted to add a splash of milk or maple syrup to this but i’ll opt for passing on that this time,. Instead i’m just enjoying this bold cup of delicious.

Boiling 6 min, 0 sec

Glad to inspire you. The question is: Am I nuts, or is this similar – in a toned down version sort of way – to Special Dark when western steeped for quite awhile?


in some ways..this one tastes better than the western brew of special dark…though i like western brew of special dark after a few steepings..if that makes sense.. they’re similar and yet different as you mentioned :)


I need to try this one western

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

2219 tasting notes

Oh this is good! Thanks so much, Dexter3657!

I rinsed for about 20 seconds, and did a first steep of 2 minutes or so. It’s nice and earthy and mushroomy. Mmm.

No, it’s not super complex or fancy, but it’s delicious and I could see enjoying it any time of day. I’ll probably have a couple more steeps tonight, and I have enough left for a couple more rounds. Definitely something to consider purchasing, as I wouldn’t be scared to waste the tea, yet is is something I can sit and enjoy.

(1.5 tsp, 12 oz)

200 °F / 93 °C 2 min, 0 sec

And then I made scones to go along with this tea because I’m hangry.

230g mixed gluten free flours, 2 tbsp coconut flour. Worked quite well, yay!


Those look amazing! Were they as tasted as they seemed in the pictures?


Well, they’re white chocolate and berry scones… they were pretty good! Mine weren’t as pretty as I used a flour mix with a lot of buckwheat flour in it.


Appearance doesn’t matter as long as they’re tasty! They sound delicious! :-)


Hi!!! Thanks for posting this! I was going to add that your rinses, especially with such a small leaf (gong ting) don’t need to be so long. With the loose leaf gong tings, I typically do just a 5 second rinse one or two times. If the pot is already heated up, just once. Gong ting will give up alot of its essence/flavor pretty quickly because it is the smallest leaf. Just a tip from my experiences. But I want you happy happy happy so if a 20 sec rinse works for you, ROCK ON!!

Also, I don’t know if you deliver the GF scones of not but they sound tea-lishus! That really was a good choice of a tea to enjoy those scones with. Good food-pairing, my friend!!


Good to know! Thanks, Garret.

I don’t think the scones would survive shipping… not only might people be tempted by them, but they’re quite wet because of the fruit. Definitely something to eat asap (or freeze). :)

Login or sign up to leave a comment.