"Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the world earth revolves - slowly,
evenly, without rushing toward the future. Live the actual moment. Only this moment is life."
-Thich Nhat Hanh
GONGFU BREWING GUIDELINES:
To begin your journey into the gongfu tea ceremony, here’s a few simple guidelines.
Step 3 and 4 are not necessary, but highly recommended to fully experience the tea. :-)
- Use 1-1.5 grams of leaf per 30ml (1 fl. oz) water.
- Use the same recommended temperature as for western style
- Preheat your brewing vessel (gaiwan, teapot, etc) for 20-30 seconds, then pour off the water into your teacups.
- Add the leaves to the brewing vessel and cover with lid. After a few seconds, remove the lid and take in the aromas.
- Your first infusion should only last 10-20 seconds. (♣: refer to tips section below)
- Add a couple seconds to each infusion, brewing for color. Probably the most important way to know if your infusion is done is basing it on brew color. Once you know the strength that you prefer the tea at, you should base consecutive infusions on that color.
- Sip slowly and take time to really experience the leaf and the aromas.
♣ For shou pu-erh, you should do a 10 second steep and discard the liquid. This is called a rinse. For compressed tea, you should do a 10 second rinse, then cover the leaves with the lid and let sit for 1-2 minutes. This allows the compression to loosen up.
• If you overbrew it, experience the new flavors or add a bit of water to the brewed tea. If you underbrew it, you can pour it back in the brewing vessel for a bit longer.
• Share tea with friends! :-)
ADDITIONAL INFO: GONGFU STYLE vs. WESTERN STYLE
The gongfu tea ceremony is a method of tea preparation originating in China. The literal translation is “brewing tea with skill”. The difference between gongfu style and western style brewing is fairly simple. Western style uses around a tablespoon of leaves per 16oz and steeps for 3-5 minutes, sometimes making a second mug afterwards. Gongfu style uses 1-2 tablespoons or more of leaves in a smaller brewing vessel (~3-6oz), and your infusion times are very short in comparison, lasting 10-20 seconds for your first infusion. The gongfu method allows for upwards of 10 steeps and sometimes even more, with each one presenting a slightly different flavor as the water extracts flavors from deeper within the leaf.
I believe that the gongfu tea experience should not be so rigid as to have defined leaf amounts and a set steeping time for each infusion. Sure, there are general guidelines to begin with, but being scientific in your approach can, in my opinion, detract from the beauty of the experience.
If you have questions about gongfu brewing or anything else tea related, please contact me and I’ll be happy to help you out!