Isn't the tea set one of the most significant elements of enjoying a nice brew to the fullest. It applies even more when it's about having Gongfu style tea, or being a part of the Gongfu tea ceremony. Aesthetic appeal and the overall display is a major part of the ceremony and delighting the senses of everyone who takes a sip.More About Gongfu Tea Sets ▼ Close
Tracing its roots to the Song Dynasty, Gongfu tea became very popular during the Ming Dynasty. People started loving it is several areas of China, especially in Fujian. The origins of the ceremony go back to China's Guangdong Province, originally known for large oolong tea leaves such as Fenhuang Don Cong, as well as the Yunnan Province that was known for sampling aged pu-erh teas.
It's essential to know what a gongfu tea set comprises of and how are each of the tools used. After all, drinking tea in the Gongfu style is not only about drinking the tea, but also about enjoying the whole process of brewing the blend.
Apart from being gorgeous to look at, tea trays display all the pots, cups and other gongfu tea tools. The tray can be round, square or fan-shaped, often being shallow to hold any overflowing or discarded water in the process of brewing.
Serving the purpose of brewing and pouring tea, tea pots can be worked up of porcelain, or glass. On the more traditional side, some use sand-fired tea pots or Yixing clay teapots.
When brewing tea in gongfu style, Gaiwan is used not only to brew the leaves in, but also to pour the blend. People use it to gaze up the lovely unfurling tea leaves and to cherish the aroma of the brew. Gaiwans are available in various colors and styles. The cover of the Gaiwan signifies the sky while the bowl represents humankind, and the saucer at the bottom as earth.
The filter is utilized to filter the leaves after brewing before pouring it into the pictcher and pinming cups. The filter is stored on the filter shelf when not in use.
Also known as fair cup and cha hai, the tea pitcher holds the brewed tea blend. Once brewed, the tea is poured into the fairpot, which then holds the tea, further making it a uniform density and flavor throughout before serving the blend.
Pinming tea cups are what one actually drinks the brewed tea from. The blend is poured into the cups from the fair pot, and pinming cups are a bit smaller, thinner and shallower than a western teacup.
Aroma cup is used to smell the tea's fragrance. It is more slender and taller than tasting cup, and typically, one aroma cup matches a tasting cup in terms of the color and material. It also matches the pinming cups and captures the essence and aroma of the brewed blend.
The tea holder serves the purpose of holding the dried tea leaves that are then brewed, after being removed from the canister that they are stored in. Tea holders are generally made from bamboo or wood, but simple white porcelain ones are the most common.
The coasters hold the serving and tasting cups, and are generally made of bamboo, metal or wood.
A tea scoop takes dry teas out from tin or tea bag into the teapot or gaiwan.
It transfers the tea leaves from the tea holder to the gaiwan or teapot.
A cylindrical funnel directs the flow of the blend into Yixing teapot, while also preventing the liquid from overflowing.
Tea tweezers pick the teacup in order to protect one's fingers from heat, or taking the leaves out from Yixing teapot.
Tea pin is used to clear the tiny tea leaves blocking the holes of the filter in Yixing teapots, allowing the water to reach spout properly.
A tea vase holds the tools including the tweezers, tea funnel, tea pin, tea scoop and tea spoon.
The tea towel is an essential element of the ceremony and it used to clean up the spills, and tea or water stains. A cotton or linen cloth is used for the same and often matches the tea set.
In order to gently clean the Yixing teapots, a brush works wonders as the pots can't be cleaned with some other cleaning products in order to avoid the oil from the skin being absorbed by the clay.
A long knife that can be flat or shaped like a needle breaks apart tea cakes and compressed teas.
This tea ceremony is all about making the most of every moment of the session. And here's the steps that make it oh so special.
Step 1 - Burning the incense
Incense is burned before the ceremony to bring out the spiritual spirit tea session, making everyone feel calm and relaxed while the incense burns.
Step 2 - Taking out the tea leaves
The teas leaves are put in a jar, and the tea artists use a spoon to take the leaves out of the same. The leaves are further put on a plate and shown to the guests.
Step 3 - Warming up the teapot
A Yixing clay teapot is used quite often for the ceremony. Hot water is poured on as well as into the pot to warm it up. A hot teapot allows for a batter isolation of the heat when steeping the liquid.
Step 4 - Adding leaves into teapot
A generous amount of leaves is added into the teapot. If the teapot is small, about four-fifth of the same is filled with the leaves when steeping Dancong or Da Hong Pao. Da Hong Pao leaves are a bit less tightly rolled and can take up major area when they get dry.For most other teas, about 8 grams of tea leaves is added.
Step 5 - Adding water into the teapot
Mostly, hot water is boiled using an iron tea kettle, and the kettle is lifted up to some height, further aiming towards the teapot's rim and pouring the same into the pot until the water spills out slightly. Apart from moistening and washing the tea leaves, this moment lets everyone enjoy the pour, resembling a mountain stream.
Step 6 - Scraping away the bubbles
The teapot lid is used to scrape away any bubbles on the surface of the water, further putting the lid on. That movement is very gentle, quite like a lovely spring breeze lightly stroking the face.
Step 7 - Rinsing the teacups
The first steep is used for rinsing the cups and washing the tea pets, optionally. Next, the infusion is drained into the tea tray.
Step 8 - Adding water into teapot again
Boiling water is poured into the teapot again until it spills out slightly. The lid is put on and the water is also poured on the exterior of the teapot, once again making sure that the heat isolation inside the teapot is better.
Step 9 - Pouring the infusion into the fair cup
The fact that gongfu sessions have quite a high leaf-to-water ratio, the tea steeping time is usually just a few seconds. With every subsequent brew, the time can be gradually increased. The tea is drained into the fairness pitcher when ready to make sure each cup tastes the same.
Step 10 - Pouring the blend into the fragrance-smelling cups
To enjoy the aroma of the blend, the tea is then poured into the fragrance smelling cup evenly and quickly.
Step 11 - Pouring drop by drop
When the fair cup holds only a tiny amount of the blend, it is poured into the fragrance smelling cups drop by drop.
Step 12 - Covering the fragrance-smelling cup
The fragrance smelling cups are then covered with empty teacups.
Step 14 - Serving the tea
A cup filled with the delicious tea is served to each of the guests, having an an upside-down aroma-smelling cup inside of it.
Step 15 - Enjoying the smells oozing from the fragrance-smelling cup
The fragrance-smelling cup is lifted up and its rim is gently rolled against the rim of the teacup to remove any drips. It is held with both the hands and raised towards the nose to cherish the enhanced fragrance of the tea.
Step 16 - Holding Gesture of the Teacup
The index finger and the thumb are used to lift the teacup while the base of the teacup is held by the middle finger.
Step 17 - Observing the liquor color
Now the guests observe the liquor color. Depending on the teacup type, the liquor hue is may be different at the bottom of the cup and around the rim.
Step 18 - Tasting the liquor
Everyone is supposed to take the liquor with a few sips of the tea. The liquor is allowed to flow inside the mouth in order to savor the flavor, pouring the remaining blend into the tray.
Step 19 - Enjoying the aroma and the aftertaste
Now, the aroma that's left in the cup as well as the lovely aftertaste of the tea are enjoyed.
Step 20 - Tasting the tea again
Until all the flavurs are extracted from the tea leaves, steps 8 to 19 are repeated, tasting the infusion and noticing the differences between the various rounds.