Gong Fu Tea is one of those nifty places that offers a unique shopping experience if you happen to be a fan of tea. I’m not a huge fan of traditional tea, but even my jaded attitude about tea (weak, less than satisfying, weak, and less than satisfying, to list four of my objections) can see that this emporium must stir the passions of those who care about tea, such as everyone else in my family and any body who is still reading this article. Now, add some milk like the Brits do, or some espresso, and we are getting around to something that I can deal with.
Anyway, the crowds that can be found at Gong Fu certainly throng the counter every time I’m brought there to wait out yet another tea purchase. For those who don’t know, this store keeps its tea in these cute stainless steel urns lining an entire wall. Obviously, the way that they store the tea is about 75% show given that they put them so high that the staff has to climb a ladder anytime somebody requests some “top shelf” tea. They could pile them on a table where they would be easy to reach, but that would spoil the process that is involved in getting your tea. In fact, the next time I go I might order some top shelf tea just to see the process. And process is what I am led to believe that tea is really all about. After all, entire cultures (in fact, nearly the entire rest of the world outside the Americas and sub-Saharan Africa) are so smitten with tea that they have developed drinking tea into a high art with incomprehensibly complicated social conventions. If you are one of those tea lovers, the rest of my family heartily recommends a visit to Gong Fu Tea. But be prepared to enjoy the process. Don’t rush it.
Another service offered by Gong Fu Tea is that they sell just about every tea-making and tea-storing contrivance that you can imagine. If you know somebody who likes tea then this is the place to go to get him or her that special gadget, cup, or pot. Finally, they will brew you some tea right there. And, if you order an iced tea, then here is something you need to appreciate. The iced tea is first brewed as you might brew any other tea. Only then is it chilled down by adding the ice. Some other establishments brew tea ahead of time and store the tea in a refrigerator to chill; not Gong Fu Tea.
414 East Sixth Street
Des Moines, Iowa