Today, we will explore the nuances between two brewing methods: Gong Fu Cha and the Western approach. Join us as we delve into the intricate art of brewing various types of tea, uncovering the close details that make each sip a delightful experience.
Most people worldwide brew tea in a teapot for 3-5 minutes, pour it into a cup and enjoy their tea. This way of brewing is called Western brewing, and it is an easy and convenient method of making tea. But among other techniques, there is a Chinese way of brewing tea that we will cover today - Gong Fu Cha.
Gong Fu Cha is a traditional Chinese tea preparation method (sometimes can be considered a “tea ceremony.”)
This practice involves using smaller brewing vessels than the Western technique, less water, more tea leaves, and multiple infusions. All those details and extra steps allow tea flavor, aroma, and texture to develop, creating a unique experience with each infusion.
Exploring Gong Fu Cha is an excellent yet easy way to discover the diverse world of tea, providing a rewarding experience for you and your guests.
The following article will include a brewing cheat sheet infographic for Gong Fu Cha brewing and Western brewing techniques.
When brewing in Western style, we would usually follow these or similar steps.
Steps to Western brewing:
- Boil water using a kettle.
- Measure a teaspoon of the desired tea.
- Pour hot water of the presented in Western Brewing guide temperature into the brewing vessel of choice and keep it there for 3-10 minutes.
- Pour the tea into your teacups and enjoy!
When it comes to brewing in Gong Fu Cha style, there would be some more instructions to follow.
First, prepare the most essential items:
- A kettle - to boil the water.
- A small teapot or Gaiwan - a vessel used to brew the tea.
- Teacups - preferably small
- Fairness Pitcher (Gong Dao Bei) - used to separate brewed tea from tea leaves in the teapot or Gaiwan. You also would use the pitcher to pour tea into the cups.
- Teaspoon - to scoop your tea from its jar to a Gaiwan.
The Gong Fu Cha ceremony uses plenty of equipment, but the ones listed above are the ones you need the most to start your Gong Fu Cha journey.
Steps to Gong Fu Cha brewing:
- Boil the water in the kettle to the temperature provided in the Gong Fu Cha brewing cheat sheet and transfer the water into a thermos to keep its temperature consistent. Remember that if, for most tea types, the water temperature varies from 90-100°C, for the Green tea, water should be 70-80°C.
- Prepare a tray called Cha Ban or a deep bowl to decant water into.
- Prepare the needed amount of tea and the other teaware.
- Warm up the Gaiwan by pouring water into it (optionally, if you possess a Chahai, after the Gaiwan is warmed up, pour the water into a Chahai to warm it).
- Warm up the tea by putting it into the Gaiwan and let it rest for about half a minute. During that time, warm up the cups by placing water into them and decanting the water afterward.
- Rinse the tea by pouring water over the leaves and discarding it afterward. This step is done to rinse off dusty particles so the first infusion is cleaner and force leaves to open up. Rinsing tea can be optional for Green, Yellow, White, and Red tea, while for Oolong and Pu-erh, rinsing is necessary.
- Now, we are ready to brew the tea. Using the Gong Fu Cha brewing temperature guide, pour hot water into your brewing vessel and brew for 10-15 seconds on your first steep.
- It is recommended to steep tea 7-12 times, depending on the type of tea, to get all of its potential out. For each subsequent infusion, add 5 seconds more before decanting. With each infusion, pay attention to the changes in the taste and aroma! Your tea is considered used when it fades in strength and flavor.
In our Gong Fu Cha cheat sheet, you can also find a preferred teaware material for different tea types.