Chinese Gong Fu

Gong Fu Cha means ‘brewing tea with great skill’.  The ceremony focuses on ensuring that the tea is perfectly brewed and that each guests enjoys it at its very best.  It can be very formal and serious and may be performed to honour a special guest, or it can take place in a more relaxed and informal way when friends or family just want to enjoy a good cup of tea together.

ladies pouring tea in gong fu ceremony 

Steps to performing Gong Fu:

1) Before brewing, the tea master gathers together all the pieces of tea equipage required – a kettle with hot water, the tea displayed in a little porcelain dish, a tray that allows water to drain away, a little teapot, a glass jug or guywan, tasting bowls, measuring scoops, etc.
2) When everything is ready, the tea master places the pot and bowls on the tray and pours hot water over them to clean and warm them.  Then he pours away the water from inside the pot and bows, measures the right amount of tea into the little pot, adds hot water and rinses the leaves, quickly pouring away the first water. 
3) More water is then added to the pot and the tea is allowed to brew.  As soon as it is ready, he pours the tea liquor into the jug or guywan and then carefully shares the liquor into the little drinking bowls and hands them to the guests. 
4) While they admire the clarity and colour of the brew and savour every sip, the tea master adds more water to the teapot and prepares a second brew.   The brewing and sipping continue until the tea leaves are exhausted and can give no more flavour to the water.

Equipment used:

One of the hallmarks of Gong Fu tea is the use of specific equipment designed for this purpose. A typical Gong Fu tea set will include a small teapot, known as a Yixing teapot, small cups, a tea tray, and a tea towel. Yixing teapots are made from a special type of clay found only in the Yixing region of China,and are prized for their ability to absorb the flavour and aroma of the tea they are used to brew. Tea trays are used to catch any spills or drips, while the tea towel is used to dry the cups between steepings.

Gong fu tea set

Gong Fu tea set

Brewing process:

To brew Gong Fu tea, begin by heating water to the appropriate temperature for the type of tea you are using. Different teas require different water temperatures to bring out their full flavour and aroma. Once the water is heated, rinse the tea leaves by pouring hot water over them and then quickly discarding the water. This helps to remove any dust or debris that may have collected on the leaves during processing. Next, add the tea leaves to the teapot, using approximately one gram of tea for every 15-20ml of water. Pour hot water over the leaves and allow the tea to steep for a short time, usually between 10-30 seconds. Pour the tea into small cups and enjoy. Gong Fu tea is typically brewed multiple times, with each subsequent steeping using slightly hotter water and a slightly longer steeping time.

Types of tea used in Gong Fu:

Gong Fu tea can be made with a variety of different types of tea, including oolong, pu-erh, green tea, and black tea. Oolong tea is a partially fermented tea that is known for its complex flavour and aroma. Pu-erh tea is a fermented tea that is often aged for several years before being consumed. Green tea is an unfermented tea that is known for its fresh, vegetal flavour, while black tea is a fully fermented tea that is often bold and robust in flavour.

Gong Fu tea is a beautiful and complex art form that requires skill, patience, and attention to detail. By using specific equipment and brewing techniques, Gong Fu tea can bring out the full flavour and aroma of the tea leaves, creating a truly unique and enjoyable tea experience. If you're interested in trying Gong Fu tea for yourself, be sure to check out Tea by Birdy's high-quality teas.

Click here to learn about other tea ceremonies from around the world.
Chinese tea ceremony
Chinese Gong Fu tea ceremony