Gong Fu Style Brewing

by on Friday, October 11, 2013 3:00:00 AM

As many of you have likely noticed, in our store we brew our tea in a very traditional Chinese style of brewing called "Gong Fu Cha", which can be literally translated to "highly skilled tea". In today's article I am going to walk through how to brew in this method and why you would want to brew this way.

Brewing tea

Brewing using the “Gong Fu Cha” technique requires a small teapot of some kind, most often a Gaiwan (guy wan) or Yixing (ee shing) teapot. Gaiwan literally translated means “lidded cup” or “lidded bowl” and is typically a ceramic or porcelain cup with a saucer and a lid. A Yixing teapot is an unglazed teapot made of red or purple clay that is meant to absorb flavor over time, so each yixing is dedicated to one type of tea. In our store we use a jade porcelain gaiwan (pictured above) due to the incredible versatility it has in brewing every type of tea and the simplicity of use to brew a cup of tea using the gaiwan. Along with a gaiwan we also use a pitcher called a cha hei, and a metal strainer called a lou dou.

Typically the goal of brewing using this method is to taste each layer of the tea. You do this by adding substantially more leaves to your gaiwan than you would with other brewing styles and steeping the tea leaves for much shorter period of time starting around 5-10 seconds for the first steeping. This will allow you to get quite a few more steepings out of your leaves, sometimes as many as 15-20 steepings. The question still remains though, why would you want to brew using this method?

  1. When you brew using this method, you get to taste each individual layer of the tea, each of which will have a different, unique flavor profile. When brewing with other methods, these different layers are combined into one flavor profile since you are steeping the tea for a much longer time. “Gong Fu Cha” provides some very unique tasting experiences that make it worthwhile to try every so often.
  2. There is something fun, relaxing, and simplistic about brewing tea using this method. It allows you to use all of your senses to full enjoy the aroma of the tea, to observe the tea leaves as they brew, and to carefully attend to the brewing process.
  3. Tea and “Gong Fu Cha” are a great facilitator of communication. This method of brewing is great to use when you have friends or family visiting because it encourages interaction, dialogue, and the building of community.

The first step in the brewing process is typically to rinse your brewing tools with hot water, including the gaiwan, the pitcher, a metal strainer, and any cups for you and your guests. Then, you add your tea to the gaiwan and fill it up with hot water. Typically you use more leaves than with other styles of brewing, so fill the gaiwan at least a third full with tea leaves. After 5-10 seconds, pour the tea through a metal strainer into your pitcher to stop the brewing process, and then serve from the pitcher and enjoy. In “Gong Fu Cha” the goal is to enjoy each layer of the tea, so you steep your tea for very short periods of time, adding on about 5-10 seconds for each additional steeping. Typically this is done in very short succession and continued until the tea no longer has any flavor.

This is a quick introduction to Gong Fu Cha. Feel free to comment below with any questions or stop by our shop and ask us in person!

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