What is Gong Fu Cha?Gong fu cha or kung fu tea is a Chinese tea ceremony, involving the ritualised preparation and presentation of tea. Said to have originated in Fujian and the Chaoshan area of eastern Guangdong, the name translates as “ tea with skill and care”. This unique method for brewing tea can produce remarkable results. Western style brewing has its place, and we regularly brew our blended teas and tisanes using this method. But if you are drinking the top shelf teas, such as the range in our Connoisseur Collection, we highly recommend making the Gong Fu Brewing a part of your tea drinking ritual because it indeed is the only way to appreciate high-quality tea.
Western-style brewing produces a distorted image of the tea with high-quality teas you will only get a glimpse of what the leaves of these teas have to offer. Gong Fu Brewing reveals the flavour profile layer by layer with each infusion.
Discovering this method was a life-changing experience for us. We honestly had no idea that tea could taste and smell soooo incredible as well as being such an engaging and sociable experience. Once you switch to gong fu brewing, all those pretentious sounding tasting notes you read in our descriptions suddenly begin to make sense. And If you are willing to fork out your hard earned cash for the good stuff you need to make gong fu brewing your go-to method, otherwise you aren’t getting your money's worth.
Gong fu teaches us to appreciate the little things
It is as much about escaping the pressures of life for a few moments as it is about enjoying every drop of tea. The first thing you will notice is the teacups are tiny. This approach to tea-making with such attention to detail and savouring every drop is so much different from what we are used to in western culture. The art of tea preparation has been perfected over many hundreds of years and passed down through the generations from tea master to student, now in western culture it has become the go-to method for connoisseurs to appreciate the complexity of pure teas.
Please don’t let any of this put you off trying it yourself, gong fu is not reserved for the upper echelons of society, anyone from anywhere can learn this ancient skill with just a little practice and the right tools.
So let’s jump right in. At the basic level, there are 6 variables to consider:
- Quality Of The Tea
- How much tea to use
- Water Quality
- Temperature Of The Water
- Brewing Times
QUALITY OF THE TEA
There are 3 reasons for selecting the best grade of tea you can find. It tastes better, lasts longer and is more cost-effective in the long run. High-grade tea will last 6 – 10 brews with consistent flavour.
HOW MUCH TEA TO USE
Generally speaking, when we brew Gong Fu, we use around 7-8 grams of tea which is close to 3 times the amount of tea you would use for a regular cup. Don’t be afraid to use more or less. It's all about personal taste and the rules with this are very loose.
When using expensive high-grade teas, you must be aware that water quality will affect the taste and overall experience of your tea session. Any impurities in the water will alter the taste of your tea so use pure spring water or filtered water and always clean your teaware before your tea session.
TEMPERATURE OF THE WATER
Black tea: 95-100
Green and White tea: 75-85
Pu her: 95
With Gong Fu Brewing, it's all about short steeps with less water. This allows the tea to slowly reveal its flavours and aromas layer by layer creating a sophisticated sensory experience. For this reason, everybody seems to have different timings, and it depends on the leaves you are using. Here is a general guide you can play around with that we usually stick to.
1st brew - no more than 5 seconds: Quick rinse to “wake up” the leaves and warm your teaware.
2nd brew - 15-20 seconds
3rd brew - 25-35 seconds
4th, 5th, 6th, etc. Add 10-15 seconds to each consecutive infusion until the tea completely loses its flavour.
We like to use a Gaiwan for our sessions, the size and shape allow you to get your nose in there and smell those leaves. The word 'Gaiwan' literally means “lidded cup” or “lidded bowl”. It is typically a ceramic or porcelain cup with a saucer and a lid. A Yixing teapot is another type of gong fu teaware which is very popular. It is an unglazed teapot made of red or purple clay that absorbs flavour over time so that each Yixing is dedicated to one type of tea.
It isn't essential to have all the fancy equipment. For newbies, we have in stock some samples of brand new tea tools soon to be released to help to make Gong Fu easier. Watch this space!
gong fu will change the way you experience tea forever! We can’t recommend enough that you try this style of brewing, even without all the teaware, it's so much fun! Especially when shared with friends, it will open up a new world for you and turn you into passionate tea addicts just like us!
If you’d like to find out more about gong fu Brewing, check out our first Youtube video where we introduce you to the basics. It really is so much fun! Don't be afraid to give it a go.
For more information check out our YouTube channel.
*Images courtesy of @leoncphotography