Introduction to Gongfucha
This article is designed to augment Tea.Institute experiential learning sessions.
Gongfucha, literally "Kung-fu Tea", refers to an assortment of Chinese styles of tea making.
The main commonality is the use of small brewing vessels with larger quantity of tea...
Update with pictures and links to Yixing, Gaiwan, Glass teapots.
Small cups, usually with wide rims for allowing the nose to pick up subtle aromas, complement the small pot size. In Taiwan two piece fragrance cups are popular.
Update with pictures of cups.
And often, a pitcher/decanter.
Often called a "fair pour", it allows all of the tea to mix together ensuring each guest receives the same quality tea.
If not using a strainer, allowing the water to cool a moment before serving also allows bits of tea to fall to the bottom in order not to end up in a guests cup.
Update with link about other equipment here.
The name "gongfu" refers to the skill required to properly brew tea. Martial arts are the most famous gongfu, but Tea Masters are also highly respected in traditional culture for the patient dedication to perfecting an art.
There are old books of tea which say that if you don't have certain equipment or use metal to boil your water than you can't consider it gongfu tea...
For begginers to the art, far from a judgemental time and place, we will focus on the most important aspects.
- View the leaf -
Tea can be a full sensory experience. Well made tea is a is visually appealing, and the appearance also tells a story of it's history and tradition.
- Rinse the leaf with hot water -
There are a few reasons why tea might be rinsed; to clean away dust and debris, to brew out less desirable flavor, or simply to "wake up the tea".
- Smell the wet leaf -
A Japanese Tea Master once told me that it is easy to make a tea with good flavor, or with good aroma, but to make a perfect tea with good aroma and good flavor is very difficult.
- Brew the tea -
The basic variables are materials, weight, volume, temprature, and time.
Materials such as the teapot, teacups, tea leaf, water, all influence the quality of the final tea liquid.
A teaspoon of FOP and a teaspoon of Dancong have drastically different Weight and material characteristics. In a cup of water one might want to use 3g of Gongfu Hong and 10g of Dancong.
Water Volume is always relativly little, 1 Brittish Imperial cup is larger than most gongfu teapots.
Temprature is very personal aspect of gonfucha their are guidelines like, "green tea not hotter than 175", but there is a lot of preference.
The most surprising aspect of gongfucha is often the quick pace of brewing. Individual preference can introduce some variation, but for those who are used to waiting 5 minutes for a cup of tea, a 5- Time
- Drink the tea -
Gongfucha is generally not an overly formal ceremony. The only thing which you must do is slurp the tea. It is important to airate the liquid in order to enjoy its complex aroma!
- Enjoy the cup fragrence -
One important thing, which may escape the unattentive, is the that some teas leave the most incredible aroma in the cup after the liquid is gone.
Update with links about specific traditions in the future.
- Wuyishan - Cliff Tea
- Chaozhou - Pheonix Wulong
- Anxi - Iron Goddess
- Yixing - Teapots
- Jingdezhen - Gaiwan
- Taiwan - Fragrence Cups