Gongfu tea ceremony
Gōngfu Chá Dào, the gongfu tea ceremony or kungfu tea ceremony
(Chinese: 工夫茶道; pinyin: gōng fu chá dào), literally "Way of tea
brewing with great skill," is a type of Chinese tea ceremony used to prepare oolong tea and occasionally pu-erh tea.
A typical Taiwanese-style gongfu cha setup
? 1 Origin
? 2 Chemistry and physics behind the Gongfu Chadao
o 2.1 Chemistry
o 2.2 Temperature
? 3 Teamaking requirements
o 3.1 Taiwanese Gongfu tea ceremony
? 4 Ceremony procedures
o 4.1 Surroundings
o 4.2 Preparation
o 4.3 Brewing
o 4.4 Serving
o 4.5 Aroma appreciation
o 4.6 End of ceremony
o 4.7 Cleaning up
? 5 See also
? 6 References
The Classic of Tea (Chinese: 茶經 or 茶经; pinyin: Chá jīng), a
Chinese book written in the 8th century by Lu Yu (Chinese: traditional 陸
羽, simplified 陆羽; pinyin: Lù Yǔ; 733–804), contains the first known
treatise on the subject of the gongfu style tea ceremony. This style of tea
consumption has remained consistently popular since the Qing dynasty,
and remains one of the primary ceremonial methods of tea consumption
In the gongfu tea ceremony, rather than focusing on symbolic hand
gestures such as that of the Japanese tea ceremony, the taste of the tea
is paramount. Although gongfu method does have some
uncompromising steps, it is important to note that the various Asian tea
consuming cultures have added local styles and equipment; adding to
the richness of the Asian tea culture.
 Chemistry and physics behind the Gongfu Chadao
In essence, what is desired in Gongfu Cha is a brew that tastes
great and is satisfying to the soul. Tea masters in China and other Asian
tea cultures will study for years perfecting this method in order to do so.
However, method alone will not determine whether a great cup of tea will
be produced. It has been suggested that the chemistry and physics
behind Gongfu Cha is what makes this method far superior to any other
when brewing Chinese teas. Essentially, two things have to be taken into
consideration: chemistry and temperature.
Water should be given careful consideration when conducting
Gongfu Cha. Water which tastes or smells bad will adversely affect the
brewed tea. However, distilled or extremely soft water should never be
utilized as this form of water lacks minerals which will positiviely effect
the flavour of the tea and so can result in a "flat" brew. For these reasons,
most tea masters will use a good clean local source of spring water. If
this natural spring water is not available, bottled spring water will suffice.
Hard water should be avoided at all cost, even after it has been filtered.
During the process of Gongfucha, the tea master will first determine
what the appropriate temperature for the tea being used is, in order to
extract the essential oils of the tea. An optimal temperature must be
reached and maintained. The water temperature depends on the type of
? 95?C for Oolong (Chinese: traditional 烏龍; simplified 乌龙; pinyin:
? 100?C (boiling) for compressed teas, such as Pu-erh tea (Chinese:
普洱; pinyin: pǔ'ěr)
? Note: Green tea is usually not used for a Gongfu tea ceremony.
The temperature of the water can be determined by timing, as well
as the size and the sizzling sound made by the air bubbles in the kettle.
? At 75-85?C, the bubbles formed are known as "crab eyes" and are
about 3 mm in diameter. They are accompanied by loud, rapid
? At 90-95?C, the bubbles, which are now around 8 mm in diameter
and accompanied by less frequent sizzling sounds and a lower
sizzling pitch, are dubbed "fish eyes".
? When the water is boiling, neither the formation of air bubbles nor
sizzling sounds occurs.
The above rules cannot be applied in highlands as the water will boil
at lower temperatures in higher altitudes.
 Teamaking requirements
1. A small clay teapot, around 150 ml in volume (Chinese: traditional
茶壺, simplified 茶壶, Pinyin: chá hú).
2. Three cups, each 30 ml (Chinese: 茶杯, Pinyin: chá bēi)
3. Fresh water. (Tap water should be filtered; hard water should be
4. A kettle (preferably made of clay or glass, in order to determine
the temperature of the boiling water.)
5. A container to dispense water (Chinese: 茶缸, Pinyin: chá gāng)
6. A water catching tray or a bowl for the tea pot during water pouring
(Chinese: traditional 茶盤, simplified 茶盘, Pinyin: chá pán)
7. A clean cotton cloth to wipe off any water on the table
 Taiwanese Gongfu tea ceremony
The Taiwanese ceremony, known there as 老人茶 (Pinyin:
L?orénchá), makes use of some different utensils on top of those
1. A wooden tea spoon to measure the amount of tea leaves
required (Chinese: 茶匙, Pinyin: chá chí)
2. A tea pitcher used to ensure the consistency of the flavor of the
tea (Chinese: 公道杯, Pinyin: gōng dào bēi) 3. A tea strainer (Chinese: 漏斗, Pinyin: lòu d?u)
4. A snifter cup used to appreciate the tea's aroma (Chinese:
traditional 聞香杯, simplified 闻香杯, Pinyin wén xiāng bēi) 5. A pair of tweezers called "Jiā" (Chinese: 挾) or "Giab" in both the
Chao Zhou and Min Nan dialects.
 Ceremony procedures
The ceremony should be carried out in an appropriate space. A
table large enough to hold the tea-making utensils, the drip tray, and the
water is the minimum necessary. Ideally the surroundings should be
peaceful and conducive to relaxation and socialization. Incense, flowers,
and low, soft, traditional music will all add to the ambience, as will
1. The first stage of preparation is known as 溫壺燙杯 (simplified:
温壶烫杯, Pinyin: wēn hú tàng bēi) literally "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 L?orénchá style, the wooden tweezers may be used
instead of bare hands.
2. The second stage of the perparation is known as 鑒賞佳茗
(simplified: 鉴赏佳茗, Pinyin: jiàn shǎng jiā míng), literally
"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 as 烏龍入宮
(simplified: 乌龙入宫, Pinyin: wū lóng rù gōng), "The black dragon
enters the palace" (this term in particular is used when Oolong tea
is used for the ceremony). The teapot is filled with tea. For a 150
ml tea pot at least 15 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 懸壺高沖 (simplified: 悬壶高冲, Pinyin: xuán hú gāo chōng), "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 the 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 春風拂面 (simplified: 春风拂面, Pinyin: chūn fēng fú miàn), meaning "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 (重洗仙顏, simplified: 重洗仙颜, Pinyin: chóng xǐ xiān yán, 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.
1. Customarily this first brew is poured into the cups but is not drunk,
this is known as 行雲流水 (simplified: 行云流水, Pinyin: háng yún líu shǔi) "A row of clouds, running water". It is essentially a
slightly 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 再注清泉 (Pinyin: zài zhù qīng xuán), "Direct again the pure spring" or 回旋低斟 (Pinyin: húi xuán dī zhēn) meaning "pouring again from a low height." This second term refers to an important principle in the brewing of
Chinese tea ceremonially: Gāo chōng dī zhēn (trad.: 高沖低斟,
simp. 高冲低斟), "high to rinse, low to pour." This is because in
the rinsing the tea is rinsed using the force of water poured from a
height, whereas in the brewing water is poured closer to the
leaves in order not to force the flavour 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 tea from the first brew
is then emptied over the teapot's outside, this is known as 刮沫淋
蓋 (simplified 刮沫淋盖, Pinyin: guā mò lín gài). Wait for 20 to 50
seconds, depending on the type and quantity of the tea used
before beginning to serve the tea.
1. In a regular gongfucha ceremony the tea is poured evenly into the
teacups, in a circular manner around the guests. In a Taiwanese
style ceremony however, the tea is first emptied into the tea
pitcher before being served to the guests. A quality oolong tea is
good for anywhere from 4 to 8 brewings. Each subsequent pot
follows the same procedure, but requires a slightly longer infusion
 Aroma appreciation
1. In the Taiwanese style ceremony, at its highest form, the aroma of
the tea is enjoyed as well as its taste. In this case, the tea is first
poured into the tea jug, and then into snifter cups (聞香杯) this is
known as 毆杯沐淋 (simplified: 殴杯沐淋, Pinyin: ōu bēi mù lìn), "bathing the snifter cup."
2. The drinking cup is placed upside down over the top of the snifter
cup and balanced there. This is known as 龍鳳呈祥 (simplified:
龙凤呈祥, Pinyin: lóng fěng chéng xiáng) meaning "The dragon
and phoenix in auspicious union." This is a ritualised action, and is
viewed by some as a form of prayer for the prosperity, wellbeing,
and happiness of the guests.
3. The two are inverted so that the snifter cup is upside down in the
drinking cup. This is known as 鯉魚翻身 (simplified: 鲤鱼翻身,
Pinyin: lǐ yú fān shēn), "the carp turns over."
4. The final stage, 敬奉香茗 (Pinyin: jǐng fěng xiāng míng)
"respecfully receive the fragrant tea," occurs when the snifter cup
is lifted and the tea is released into the drinking cup. The guest
can then enjoy the aroma of the tea from the snifter before then
consuming the tea from his drinking cup. In good etiquette the
drinker will drink his tea in three sips, no less. The first a small one,
the second the main one, and the last an after taste.  End of ceremony
1. The ceremony ends with the used tea leaves being put into a
clean bowl for the guests to appreciate the tea in its used form.
Good etiquette dictates that the guests should make appropriate
compliments regarding the choice of tea.
 Cleaning up
Cleaning up is an important step in the ritual.
1. Brewed tea and tea leaves should not remain in the teapot after
the ritual. It must be cleaned up thoroughly and rinsed with hot
2. Utensils must be sterilized with boiling water.
3. The tea pot should be rinsed with hot tea and the outside of the
pot should be rubbed / polished with a good linen cloth. 4. A teapot should never be rinsed with water, nor washed with
detergents or soaps.
5. Allow the tea pot to dry naturally.
6. Let the utensils and serving cups air dry on a tea tray.