The Gong Fu Method


Gong fu cha is a traditional Chinese tea service (also referred to as "ceremony") going back to the 18th century. It is believed that it originated in Chaozhou in the Guangdong Province, which is known for Phoenix Mountain teas. Chinese tea drinking might also have been influenced by its neighboring Fujian Province, where the famous "rock" or "cliff" oolong tea comes from. Like anything going back hundreds or thousands of years, it is generally difficult to pinpoint specific place and time of origin. 

Gong fu cha, loosely means "to make tea with skill," and cha jin simply translates as "tea person." Here alone you can feel the humble beginnings of tea in China. Nothing fancy, just a little know-how and willingness to serve. 

For multiple reasons, equipment and technique are important in steeping tea. On a most basic level, the gong fu method of steeping tea really honors the ch'a qi by treating the leaves with great respect, featuring their full potential in flavor, mouthfeel and appearance. Steeps are many, which allow for a beautiful journey with every sip. 

While a mug and heaping teaspoon of leaves with some hot water is a popular way to drink tea in the West, I encourage you to take the time to steep tea using the gong fu method. At first it takes a little getting used to, but eventually it becomes an easy and very rich experience. The Way of Tea can be profound. It is a chance to contemplate, learning about tea at the same time. Learning to use a gaiwan and sipping from small tea cups is such a pleasure, that you may never crave a tea mug ever again.

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