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Gong Cha: Brewing Excellence in the Heart of the Asian District

Last week, I was craving some iced tea from my favorite local spot, Kung Fu Tea, so I stopped by to grab a cup.

When I arrived, I learned Kung Fu had been kicked out of town, and a new tea place – Gong Cha, 2800 N. Classen Blvd. #103 – had taken over.

With a little detective work—mostly reading their website before walking in—I learned this was a company from Kaohsiung, Taiwan, that specialized in something called “Milk Foam."

To be fair, that's something I usually don’t like, but the tea, lattes, and pearls seemed quite involved, so I decided to give them a try.

As I looked over the voluminous menu, I was given not only the flavors, but the ice levels and sugar grades, the calorie counts, and the various toppings, including coconut jelly, and herbal jerry, and star jelly. It was pretty impressive.

After making my selections, I sat at a rickety table and gazed at the new surroundings.

Along with the new color scheme and paint job, Gong Cha had a new neon sign that read “Gong Cha Brewing Happiness” glowing against the wall. It gave me a peaceful easy feeling. As the drink-makers were quietly brewing their wonderful magic, I noticed one hold-over from the Kung Fu days – a lucky kitten with a waving paw.

As it waved "hello" to me, my lucky number was called and the teas were ready.

My first tea was the Coffee Milk Tea ($5.50). Like the name directly says, it is a simple mixture of coffee and tea, with light ice and no sugar.

Of course, it was perfect. The slinking coffee base and brewed tea, with a large amount of milk, was patently divine and far better than Starbucks or any of the other mainstream chains invading our city.

My citrus-derived better half tried the Mango Milk Slush ($6.75). Featuring the aforementioned mango and whole milk, it's crushed with frozen ice and then poured into a standard cup and vacuum-sealed, waiting for a straw to pop the lip.

With the mango flavor rushing to the forefront, this was a spectacular revelation. Citrus and milk make such great bedfellows, and this should be required drinking for anyone with a soul.

For my tea, I went with the Taro Mike ($5.75). Taro, I learned, is a root vegetable, similar to yams. With that information in my back pocket, the off-white color gave a simmering glow, with the taro drink ready to be ingested.

And, to be sure, the taro was extremely tasty, like a very vanilla-ish shake, with a slight kick. Give it a try!

With my tastebuds getting sufficiently cured to the icy wantonness and frozen distortion, I have to say that while Kung Fu Tea had the most kick-ass name in the game, Gong Cha has the best drink selection in the Asian District and, for that, I’ve got to give it up.


Follow Louis on Twitter at @LouisFowler and Instagram at @louisfowler78.

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