Gong Fu Cha: A Chinese Yixing Tea StoryJan.27.2014
Cultures from around the world have their own unique way of preparing and drinking tea. It is these rituals which make tea culture so meaningful. Thought to have been first introduced during the Sung Dynasty (960 – 1279), Gong Fu Cha is the art of using high quality oolong, the Yixing teapot and thimble-sized cups to appreciate and enjoy tea. Gong Fu allows the precious oolong’s aroma to sing, flavor to flourish and colour to entice. It is said to have originated from the Fujian province and the Chaozhou area of Guangdong province, China.
To practice your own Gong Fu Cha, please follow the steps below:
1. Heat fresh, cold (filtered) water. The water should be low in mineral content and chlorine so as not to taint the Yixing with outside flavors.
2. Preheat the teapot for 5 minutes by placing hot water both inside the teapot and over the closed vessel to equalize the temperature. Discard the water.
3. Place those luscious oolong leaves into the Yixing. Ensure proper respect to both Yixing and leaves by dedicating a single varietal of tea for each Yixing. Use 1 teaspoon of leaves per 237 ml (8 oz) water. Simple rule of thumb: use enough oolong to barely cover the floor of the Yixing.
4. Add hot water and replace the lid, following the same steps as above to equalize the temperature.
5. Within 15 seconds, discard this 1st steep. This quick “rinse” awakens the tealeaves and prepares them for proper unfurling and infusion.
6. Add hot water to the teapot. Steep as per the blend’s instruction, ensuring you equalize the temperature as the tea steeps. It is important to be precise in the temperature and infusion time to ensure that your oolongs properly offer their treasures to you.
7. Pour tea into the Yixing cups. Pass the cup by your nose to first appreciate the aroma before imbibing the complex, orchid-like liquor.
8. High quality oolongs are meant to be steeped more than once, so please do not discard but re-steep as above. Some oolongs will re-steep as many as seven times, with the best steep not being necessarily the first.
9. Be gentle with your Yixing. Clean the teapot, by simply rinsing with hot water. Never use soap or detergent with your Yixing as the unglazed teapot is porous and will absorb residual chemicals. Let your precious teapot air-dry and await its next ritual.