Gong Fu Tea

Teas on display at Gong Fu

Teas on display at Gong Fu


I can’t deny it. I am a coffee-aholic through and through. In fact, I’m still amazed at the size of the headache that took the liberty of settling itself in my head and hung out for a damn day and a half last week after I missed out on coffee one morning. Yikes is right. So when I travel, I naturally like to seek out and/or stumble upon the local spots for home-brewed joe. But just as intriguing (and still caffeinated!) is when I discover an independent tea shop in a new city. I used to love the now defunct Aion tea on Division Street in Wicker Park, with its dark wood shelves, great tea selection and tiny café tables, and Gong Fu Tea in Des Moines (of all places) reminded me a bit of it. I was in Iowa for a Soy council trip for work, and was told by some of the locals in my group to check out the small tea shop in an area called East Village. A free afternoon had everyone clamoring to take a break from the tofu to check the place out.
A wall of silver urns behind the counter

A wall of silver urns behind the counter


Once inside, we marveled at the design, which was pristine, yet warm and welcoming with pistachio green walls, dark wood shelves and a hidden back area with low tables conducive to tea-sipping. But the centerpiece of the place is a stunning floor-to-ceiling wall of silver urns brimming with loose-leaf white, yellow, black, green, oolong, puerh and more from China, Taiwan, Sri Lanka, Southern India, and other places the owners regularly frequent on tea-buying trips. Sold in 2, 4 and 8 Oz sizes, the selection of almost 150 teas was overwhelming, but the patient and knowledgeable staff put up with our endless questions and sample requests (which they happily provide). I wondered about the $18-an-ounce yame gyokuro Japanese green, whose buds are sheltered from the sun by straw shades, and opted instead for the Ancient Happiness sencha green, the Absolute almond black made with the almond nut oil and dried almonds, and the after-dinner friendly Chocolate Mint; China black with dark chocolate flavoring and fresh peppermint. I got more bags for friends, and have been drinking the stuff all week (plus they ship), so I may just kick (or at least cut down on) my coffee habit yet. 414 E. Sixth Street, Des Moines, 515.288.3388
I love how the sign went all the way up the façade of the old building that houses Gong Fu Tea

I love how the sign went all the way up the façade of the old building that houses Gong Fu Tea

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4 Comments

Filed under eliz-a-trip, random spottings

4 responses to “Gong Fu Tea

  1. Laura Marzen

    Great plug for Gong Fu Tea, Liz! I’m glad we were all able to go there and support such a great place. Take care, Laura.

  2. Douglas Porter

    I just visited Gong Fu Tea today for the first time. A friend got me some of their tea for Christmas and now I’m hooked! I brought in my own tea glass and they refilled it with the tea I chose. The staff even offered to wash my glass for me before making my new drink. The atmosphere is very inviting. I have tried three of their teas so far; Absolute Almond, Le Tour De France and Creme Assam and they are all awesome!

  3. So you are in Des Moines? I wish they’d open up shop in Chicago! I loved the absolute almond as well!

    • Yeah, I live near Des Moines. Just stopped back down there a couple weeks ago to get some Absolute Almond. It was out of season/stock for a while but now they have it again. I’ve got a new one I like now too, Garden Grove.

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