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  • Katryn Taylor

Gongfu Tea Ceremony


Gongfu Cha is a tea experience that taste great and is good for the soul. Tea masters of the Asian tea cultures with their studies have perfected this method. Method alone does not determine the perfect cup of tea. Several other things are in play to enjoy the pleasures of a perfect cup of tea: chemistry and temperature.

Water Chemistry

Most tea masters will use a clean local source of spring water when available. If a natural spring water source is not available, bottled spring water will suffice.

Temperature

The appropriate temperature is determined for the tea being used, in order to extract the essential oils from the tea leaf. An optimal temperature must be reached and maintained. Two of the usual teas used for the Gonfu tea ceremony is an oolong or pu-erh tea. Green tea is usually not used during this tea ceremony.

95 °C for oolong tea

  • 100 Celsius (boiling) for compressed teas, such as pu-erh tea

  • 95 Celsius for oolong tea

The temperature of the can be determined by timing, as well as the size and sizzling sound made by the air bubbles in the kettle. A more contemerary standard is the purchase of an electric kettle with the determined temperatures like a Breviale tea kettle offers.

  • At 75-85 celsius, the bubbles formed are known as "crab eyes" and are about the 3mm in diameter. They are accompanied by loud, rapid sizzling sounds

  • At 90-95 celsius, the bubbles, which are now around 8mm in diameter and accompanied by less frequent sizzling sounds and lower sizzling pitch, are dubbed "fish eyes".

  • When the water is boiling, neither the formation of the air bubbles nor the sizzling sound accurs.At high altitudes water boils at lower temperatures, so the above rules cannot be applied.

Tools and equipment

Brewing vessel, Yixing teapot, porcelain teapot, or a covered bowl gaiwan.

Tea pitcher, or any matching size decanting vessel.

Hot water kettle or electric kettle

Brewing tray to hold spills. Tea trays are to display all your tools in a pleasing manner. The function of the tea tray is to hold your teapots and cups and can be filled with any overflow of water discarded in the process of brewing.

Tea towel (dark to conceal staining)

Tea spoon

Tea pins are small utensils which look like a needle and a used for clearing the tea spout, etc.

Tea cups(traditionally 3 cups in most instances) matching is size/or Pinmiing Cup for the remaining used tea leaves to be smelled and admired.

Timer

Strainer

Tea holder for the dispensing of tea.

Tea tongs are used in bringing the tea cups from warming or to moving them to others.

A tea pet, usually made from the same clay a s Yixing teapot, is fun to have. Prior to the tea ceremony , it is soaked in cold water. Hot water poured over him during the tea ceremony. Traditionally these "pets" are classical Chinese figurines, such as a Dragon, Lion, or Toad, and used as a receptacle over which the wasted tea is poured, usually to avoid splattering of the hot water agains the tray.

The ceremony should be carried out in an appropriate space. A peaceful surrounding for relaxation ensued with the beauty of flowers, fragrance, and sound.

Preparation
  1. The first stage of preparation is known as "warming the pot and heating the cups." At this point the cups and pot are laid on the table. They are then warmed and sterilized with hot water, the excess is then poured away. When pouring from the cups in the Taiwanese Lăorénchá style, the wooden tweezers may be used instead of bare hands.

  2. The second stage of the preparation is known as "appreciate excellent tea." At this point those who would partake of the tea during the ceremony examine and appreciate its appearance, smell, and its other characteristics.

  3. The third stage of the preparation is known"The black dragon enters the palace" (this term in particular is used when Oolong tea is used for the ceremony, as "Oolong" literally means "Black Dragon"). The teapot is filled with tea. For a 150 ml tea pot at least 5 grams of tea leaves are used, however depending on the size of the pot and the strength of the tea the pot may be filled between 1/2 and 2/3 full.

  4. The leaves are now rinsed using hot water poured from some height above the pot, this is known as "rinsing from an elevated pot". This is done by putting the teapot into the catching bowl. Water heated to the appropriate temperature for the tea is then poured into the pot until the pot overflows.

  5. Any debris or bubbles which form on the surface are then scooped away gently to keep the tea from around the mouth of the pot which is then closed with the lid. This is known as "the spring wind brushes the surface."

  6. At this point opinions differ as to what should be done with the tea. Some suggest that the tea be steeped for a short while, and discarded into the cups meaning "bathe the immortal twice". This is in order that the temperature inside and outside of the pot is the same. Others recommend immediately pouring the first brew into all of the cups without allowing the tea to steep.

Brewing
  1. Customarily this first brew is poured into the cups but is not drunk. This is known as "drifting clouds and flowing water". It is an extended washing of the leaves

  2. The pot is then refilled with fresh hot water until the water reaches the mouth of the pot. This is known as "direct again the pure spring" meaning "pouring again from a low height." The second term refers to an important principle in the brewing of the Chinese tea ceremonially "high to rinse, low to pour. This is because in the rinsing the is rinsed using the force of water poured from a height, whereas in the Brewing water is poured closer tot he leaves in order not to force the flavor from the leaves too rapidly.

  3. The bubbles which may have formed on the surface are removed using the lid. and the pot is closed.The hot rinse-tea from the first brew is then emptied over the teapots outside. Wait 20 to 50 seconds, depending on the type ands quantity of the tea used before beginning to serve the tea.

  4. Serving the tea evenly in the the teacups, in a circular manner around the guests. In the Taiwanese style ceremony however, often the tea is first emptied into the tea pitcher before being served to the guests. A quality oolong tea is good for anywhere from 5 to 8 infusions. Some Puerh tea can last for 8 or more infusions. Each subsequent pot follows the same procedure, but requires a slightly longer infusion time.

Aroma Appreciation
  1. Tea aroma is enjoyed as well as its taste.The tea is poured in the extra vessel then into the scent cups. This is known as "bathing the scent cup."I

  2. The drinking cup is placed upside down over the top of the scent cup and balanced there. This is known "the dragon and the phoenix in auspicious union." This is a ritualized action, and is viewed as a form of prayer for prosperity, well being, and happiness of the guest.

  3. The two are inverted so that the scent cup is upside down in the drinking cup. This is known as "the carp turns over."

  4. The last stage, "respectfully receive the fragrant tea,: occurs when the scent cup is lifted and the tea is released into the drinking cup. The guest can then enjoy the aroma of the tea scent cup before consuming the tea from the drinking cup. Good Etiquette dictates the drinker should consume the tea in three sips, no less.End of ceremony

The ceremony ends with the used tea leaves being placed into a clean bowl for admiration in of the teas used form.. Guests should give compliments regarding the choice of tea.

Clean Up

The brewed tea and leaves should not remain in the teapot. A clay pot should never be washed with detergents or soaps. The pot must be cleaned. with hot tea.polished with a good linen cloth. All utensils used must be sterilized with boiling water.Utensils must be sterilized with boiling water. The tea pot and utensils should air dry on a tea tray.


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