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Anyone for afternoon tea, Gongfu style?
Posted on Aug 10, 2016
For tea lovers and connoisseurs, a gong fu tea ceremony is a must! Gong fu is not a type of tea or a martial art, but an exact brewing process, a method of preparing tea that creates the ideal tea experience.
Drinking tea is a tradition thats been around for centuries. It is also one of the healthiest drinks, packed full of vitamins and anti-oxidants, and is the perfect drink to share with friends at home. Creating a tea party is the perfect occasion to enjoy the company of others and share conversation about common interests. But, be careful. Tea contains L-theanine, which releases endorphins that make people feel good and creates a talkative atmosphere, so your tea party could last for hours and hours! So make sure you allow for plenty of time so that everyone can appreciate the company of each other!
The art of gong fu lies in a combination of the right amount of tea leaves, the correct water temperature, the brewing time and the use of special tea utensils.
To prepare tea gong fu style you will need a bamboo water tray, a gong fu tea set in glass or china, comprising of a teapot, a server (jug), a matching set of cups for the guests, a filter strainer, a set of bamboo tea tools, tea scoop, tea tongs, a tea pick, and a clay tea ‘pet’, which is a traditional part of the ceremony and is said to bring good luck to those drinking the tea.
For a gong fu tea ceremony the guests are seated around the tea table, with the server, the person preparing the tea, at the head of the table. By the way, gong fu literally means ‘pouring tea with skill’!
So once you've for your equipment ready and your guests seated you're ready to start.
Firstly warm the cups and teapot by pouring hot water over them. Pour the water away after a few seconds.Then add the appropriate amount of premium loose leaf tea, using the tea scoop, into the teapot. Pour over water, preferably spring water, at the appropriate temperature. Water temperatures of between 80-90 degrees C are fine for white, green and oolong teas. Boiling water may be used for black or puerh teas. Replace the lid on the teapot and continue to pour the hot water over the small hole in the lid, this will ensure that the pot is full and retains the right temperature.After the optimum infusion time, 5 seconds or longer, according to taste, pour a little of the brewed liquid into each cup. Never pour a full cup of tea! Like wine tasting in western cultures, drinking tea, gong fu style is more about the sense and taste rather than the quantity. It is even considered impolite in China to completely fill your tea cup. You have been warned! Once all cups contain the correct amount of tea, pour the remaining brewed liquid into a server or jug. Always make sure that all the liquid is emptied from the teapot to prevent remaining infusions from tasting bitter. If you are serving oolong, or compressed puerh tea cakes you may which to rinse the tea leaves with hot water before brewing as this allows the tea leaves to unfurl a little and provide a better taste.
And, if you wish, have to hand some small cakes and biscuits for your guests to eat in between brews. It also helps to cleanse the palate in between tasting various different teas. Chocolate cake goes particularly well with jasmine teas!
The gong fu method of preparing tea is simple and creates the ideal tea experience that may be enjoyed by all tea drinkers alike. In todays hectic lifestyle a gong fu tea party is an ideal social gathering, to get together with friends, to slow down the pace of life, to chat, to enjoy tea and the company of others.