Your Guide to Gongfu Brewing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here we’re going to discuss how to unlock all the subtle flavors, aromas, and textures of your loose leaf tea, and how to make the best cup of tea you’ve ever had. 

This is a very big topic, but here’s the brief guide to Gongfu brewing.


  1. What is gong fu brewing?

Gong-fu brewing is a traditional Chinese method of making tea. Instead of steeping tea once, you can steep your tea up to a dozen times, and each steeping will change and develop. 

Gongfu steeping is performed by controlling each aspect:

  1. Quantity and quality of tea used
  2. Quantity and quality of water used
  3. Temperature of water
  4. Length of time the tea is steeped 
  5. Type of teaware - different mineral compositions will affect taste

  1. What’s the benefit of gongfu brewing?

Drinking tea gongfu style is like watching a movie in high definition with top quality surround-sound speakers. It’s the way the movie (or tea) was intended to be consumed. 

The large amount of leaves showcase the full flavor of the tea without the bitterness. Brewing “western style” or using a teabag will often result in a much more bitter and dull flavored tea. 

 

  1. What do I need for gongfu brewing?

The basics to start are:

- A teapot or gaiwan - the vessel to brew tea - usually 100ml - 250 ml size is used

- A Gong Dao Bei or “fairness pitcher”- tea is poured in a pitcher before serving. (You can always just use a glass cup for this)

- A set of tea cups - small cups cool faster


For a more advanced setup, you may like to additionally use:

  • A tea table - allows for easy pouring and no mess
  • A strainer - stops whole tea leaves from entering your cup
  • Tea pets - a fun clay figurine you can “feed” with excess water and tea
  • Smelling cups - long cups used to smell and accentuate tea fragrance
  • Tea knife/pick - used to break up puerh cakes
  • Tea towel - to easily wipe up any water 
  • Tea utensils - used to handle and serve hot cups

  1. What about the amount of tea, steeping times, and water temps?

You can use the chart below for a guide. But the art and skill is to adjust and determine these based on each individual type of tea you brew. *

*Keep in mind the temperature in which water boils decreases as your altitude increases.



Tea 

Water Temp

Amount (g/100 ml)

1st infusion (seconds)

Additional infusion (seconds)

Avg. # of infusions

White

85°C (185°F)

4

10

+ 10

6

Green

80°C (176°F)

4

10

+ 5

6

Oolong (strip)

95°C (203°F)

6

20

+ 5

8

Oolong (ball rolled)

95°C (203°F)

8

20

+ 5

8

Black

95°C (203°F)

5

15

+ 5

8

Puerh (raw)

95°C (203°F)

5

10

+ 5

15

Puerh (ripe)

99°C (210°F)

5

10

+ 5

15



  1. I’m ready for a gongfu tea session, how do I do it?

Here is a very basic outline:

Get your tea, hot water, teapot (or gaiwan), fairness pitcher, and tea cups to start.

  1. Warm the teapot. Pour hot water into your teapot (or gaiwan) to rinse it out and warm it. Never use soap in your teapot.
  2. Put loose leaf tea into your teapot. Refer to the chart above for amounts of tea.
  3. Rinse the tea (optional). Pour the correct water temperature into teapot - refer to chart above. Allow to steep for a few seconds and pour the infusion out. This is to rinse the tea and remove any small particulates that might be present. This also helps to “open up” some tightly rolled teas. 
  4. Pour hot water for the first brew. Usually around 5 - 20 seconds for the 1st brew. Refer to chart above for guidance. 
  5. Pour first brew into fairness cup. The fairness cup ensures everyone gets tea brewed for the same amount of time. A strainer is optional to use as well to prevent tea leaves from getting into your cup. 
  6. Serve tea into cups. Pour tea from fairness cup to individual cups. 
  7. Repeat steps 5-7. Depending on the tea you can get up to 20 infusions. Typically add around 5-10 seconds for each additional infusion. 

We hope this answers some of your questions. If you’ve got any more, send them our way. It might take us a while to respond. But we read everything. 

We're really advocates for this type of brewing. It encourages the close observation and appreciation of tea. It allows you to sit and be present with a cup. 

Plus some of our greatest memories took place with friends over a tea session. 

 

If you’re ready to join the high definition world of gongfu brewing, check out our top-shelf loose leaf tea selection here.




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