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Gongfu Brewing
Not only are there different types of tea, but different ways to brew it.
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Gongfu tea adds another element to your tea experience. Tossing a tea bag into a cup of water doesn't always cut it. This Chinese art of brewing involves attention to detail, much practice and even a bit of spiritual pleasure.

This method of brewing became popular in China during the Ming dynasty (around 400 years ago). It was also during this time that the craftsmen from Yixing began producing their wonderful teapots. Yixing pots are best for Gongfu, because of the porous clay they are made from.

The fundamental difference between Gongfu brewing and 'regular' brewing is the ratio between the amount of tea and the length of the steep. Gongfu uses more tea, but you infuse for a very short time. Regular brewing uses a smaller quantity, and you usually steep for several minutes.

Brewing Procedure:

  • Remember, good water means good tea.
  • Just as your water is hitting the boil, remove from heat and allowed to cool.
  • What temperature to let it cool too depends on the tea. Most oolongs are best when the water is around 12 degrees below boiling.
  • Add your tea leaves, at least enough to cover the bottom of your tea pot. Remember that your leaves will expand quite a bit when the water is added. Some who use this method use enough tea that it fills the pot completely when it expands. (A small teapot is usually used when Gongfu brewing.)
  • Fill the pot with water and then pour it out, to rinse the leaves.
  • Refill the pot with water.
  • Relax for a moment and take a deep breath.
  • After infusing for only 20 or 30 seconds, pour the tea from the teapot into a serving pitcher. This is to separate the leaves from the water.
  • Serve your tea. When brewing in this manner, you can get several infusions from the same tea. Add about 10 seconds to each following infusion.

This is just the basic outline of how to brew in this style. There can be extensive ceremony surrounding the making of tea in the Gongfu style. Chinese tea ceremonies are similar to the more familiar Japanese ones, but the Chinese focus on the tea itself more than the elaborate rituals of the Japanese ceremony.

So, if you're looking for a different twist to your tea, but can't get out and buy something new, try this ancient brewing style for a unique experience.


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