The Chinese Tea Art-Gong Fu Cha January 27, 2010

               What is the meaning of “Gong Fu Cha”?

Generally speaking, it’s a tea brewing process.
Gōngfu Chá Dào, the gongfu tea ceremony or kungfu tea ceremony , 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.
The Chinese art of tea drinking dates from Ming dynasty (16th century), thus it has a 400 years old history.
In Chinese, Cha is “tea”. For “Gong Fu”, you might be familiar with one of it’s meanings – martial arts.
In its original meaning, kung fu can refer to any skill. Gōngfu (功夫) is a compound of two words, combining  (gōng) meaning “achievement” or “merit”, and  (fū) which translates into “man”, so that a literal rendering would be “human achievement”. Its connotation is that of an accomplishment arrived at by great effort.
What varieties of tea are appropriate for Gong Fu Cha?

 oolong tea and occasionally pu-erh tea
Gong Fu Cha uses YiXing purple clay teapots that retain a high temperature during brewing. High temperature is what it takes to extract flavor from Oolong.
However, tender tea varieties like green tea should NOT be brewed as Gong Fu Cha.

Tea-things you will need for Gong Fu Cha.
(1)YiXing purple clay teapot—–YiXing teapot loses heat slowly. Small (personal preference is below 6 oz) and deep teapots are recommendable design.

(2)Teacups or Gai Wan(bowl with fitted cover )—–that is, if you don’t want to drink direct from the teapot. 3-4 cups of about 1 oz each is fine, depending on the size of the teapot.

(3)Cha Hai(Tea Boat or Tea Plate)—–there will be a bit of spill and waste water during the process of Gong Fu Cha. The tea plate holds such water so you don’t have to wipe it off the table.
(4)Gong Dao Bei( ‘justice vessel,’ i.e. sharing pitcher for gong fu cha) Also been called Faircup —–transitional container that will be used when teacups are full but tea in teapot has to be emptied to avoid overbrewing.

(5)Cha Dao (Tea Implements)—–in the tool set, there are tea chooser(scoop), funnel, tongs, digger, tea needle etc.

(6)Strainer (tea funnel)——screens out small pieces of tea leaves.

(7)cha jin (tea cloth)———-for cleaning up spills

(8)cha he (lit ‘tea lotus’)———-a small dish for measuring and displaying dry tea leaf before brewing.
Most of the above tea-things are optional. You do not need to prepare each unit. Just a Gai Wan or Yixing Teapot with couple of tea cups are enough for enjoying Gong Fu Cha. But if you are a fun of Gong Fu Cha, the tea-things of course will Increase the pleasure during the process of Gong Fu Cha.
What is the Ritual detail?

(1)Collect 3-5g tea by the tea scoop.
Place it into Cha He(displaying dish).

(2)Heating the teapot
Pouring the boiled water into the teapot or Gai Wan which is set on a large deep plate known as a ‘tea boat’. 

Then cover its lid and pour the hot water onto the body of the covered teapot.

(3)Washing the tea cups and the Gong Dao Bei(the faircup). Pour the hot water into each tea cup and faircup through the teapot that filled with hot water just now.  Rinse the cups with tea tong or by hand.

(4)Preparing the leaves
Put the tea leaves into the teapot: make sure the tea pot half full with tea leaves. Add some water into the teapot  to rinse the leaves, then poured  the water into the faircup or into each cup.
This process is also been called ‘waking-up the tea’.

(5)First infusion
Fill the teapot with hot water and make sure the water is overflowing to expel the scum.
 Cover the teapot then pour hot water onto the teapot againThen rinse the cups with the first infusion tea soup.
(6)Second infusion
Fill the teapot with hot water and make sure the water is overflowing to expel the scum. Cover the teapot then pour hot water onto the teapot again. Wait for about 30 sec and the tea is ready for drink.
The process can be repeated three times using the same leaves and procedure. In this case, the tea boat must be emptied regularly to avoid the water cooling. After 3-5 infusions(depends on the quality of the tea), replaced the wet leaves with fresh ones.
Prepared in this way, the tea is quite strong and should drink it slowly as liquor.
The meaning about Host and Guest

The concept of Host and Guest is a metaphor in Buddhism relating to the relationship between people. Knowledge, effort, work, art, expression,etc. flow from one individual (the Host) to another individual (the Guest). This natural flow may be reversed, the two sides could change their positions  some time .
In serving Tea, the Host is in charge of the whole process, serve the guest to show the respect. The Guest in return, learns to accept kindness and benefit from the host with appreciation.
Cha Tao is not only  a ceremony or ritual, but it is also a channel for people to communicate and express care to each other.

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