Gong Fu!

I can’t recall exactly where, but i heard about Jiaogulan a month or so back as a type of herbal tea and I was really fascinated by it. I did some cursory research online and saw a bunch of pictures of it rolled up into this tumbleweed looking things with glucose and I just knew that I wanted to try it!

Then I ended up visiting My Cup of Tea here in Montreal as part of my exploration of different tea places within the city – and turns out that they carry jiaogulan! Though, there’s is the straight leaf and not the stuff rolled up with the glucose into those super weird/interesting looking balls. I still bought some though just the try it. Definitely a very green, grassy smell – reminded me a lot of green tea by dry aroma. That’s not promising for me, but none the less I still found myself super intrigued.

However, steeped Gongfu this tasted awful. I don’t think I have EVER tasted a tea that was simultaneously so bitter and sweet all at once! It wasn’t even a good kind of sweet though, because it was that cloying licorice root/ginseng sweetness that coats your mouth and just never goes away. Also, notes of wet dog. Nasty!

I was brewing in a 50ml gaiwan just to test it out, and I had been stacking the infusions in a larger Cha Hai. I had seven stacked infusions in the cha hai when I poured my first tea cup worth and just about died from how awful it tasted. I did finish the pitcher because at that point I had brewed it already – but after choking through the pitcher I immediately stopped brewing and basically just called it a night. No more tea.

I need to do some research to see if there’s a better way to prepare this tea so it tastes less foul – but man did this initial tasting suck!

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Hello! My name is Kelly, though many people in the tea community call me Ros or Roswell.

I am a mid-twenties tea addict, blogger, and all around nerd. I grew up in the Prairies, but a few years ago I relocated to Quebec to pursue a career with DAVIDsTEA in the tea industry! I’m still working on getting my French language skills down…

My first introduction to tea, in any form outside of instant and bottled iced tea, was about seven years ago when I happened to stumble upon DAVIDsTEA while looking for a birthday present for a friend! I tried their Birthday Cake rooibos blend, and I’ve been hooked on tea ever since! In those seven years; I was introduced to the online tea community, expanded my interest in flavoured teas to include a deep love and appreciation for straight teas and traditional brewing methods, got a tea themed tattoo, started reviewing teas, amassed a sizable tea and teaware collection, became a TAC certified Tea Sommelier, & even came full circle by beginning a career in the tea industry with DAVIDsTEA!

I consider myself a Jack of all Teas, and strive to have a knowledge and appreciation of all tea types, formats, and styles of drinking. I don’t like to feel boxed in to just being a “flavoured tea” or “straight tea” drinker – my expectations may vary depending on the type of tea or how it’s been processed/prepared but if it’s good tea, it’s good tea no matter how it’s been made!

You name it, I probably drink it- and I’ll absolutely try anything at least once.

My default method of preparation is hot, Western style, and straight – but I’m not opposed to additions if I’m in the right mood. If I ever add something to a tea or use a different method of preparation I will ALWAYS call it out in the tasting note though.

I like to listen to music when drinking tea, especially when I’m brewing a large pot at a time or steeping Gongfu. Often I curate very intentional tea and music pairings, and sometimes I share them here in my tasting reviews. Music is something that I find can deeply affect the experience of having tea.

I’m also one half of the “tea and fandom” podcast GeekSteep where, weekly, we discuss newly explored fandoms over tea as well as try to figure out the perfect tea to pair with each fandom. You can find us on Spotify and Apple & Google podcasts.

Favourite flavour notes/ingredients: Pear, lychee, cranberry, cream, melon, pineapple, malt, roasty, petrichor, sweet potato, heady florals like rose, hazelnut or walnut, sesame, honey (in moderation), and very woody shou.

Least favourite flavour notes/ingredients:
Lemongrass, ginger, strongly spiced profiles (and most Chai in general), mushrooms, seaweed, chamomile, stevia, saltiness or anything that reminds me too much of meat that isn’t supposed to taste like meat…

Currently exploring/obsessed with: Sheng from Yiwu, Yancha (Qilan in particular), anything with a strong sweet potato note. Also, I need to try ALL the root beer teas! Searching for a really good caramel flavoured blend, ideally with a black tea base.

Please contact me at the instagram account listed below if you would like me to review your teas.

Currently I’m employed in the tea department of the DAVIDsTEA head office. While I’m still sharing my own personal thoughts on new & existing DAVIDsTEA blends, I am no longer numerically rating them due to the obvious conflict of interest. Any comments expressed are a reflection of my own thoughts and opinions, and do not reflect the thoughts and opinions of the company. Any DAVIDsTEA blends you currently see with a numeric score were reviewed prior to my being hired there and have not been adjusted since becoming a DAVIDsTEA employee.


Montreal, QC, CA



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