What is Gong Fu Brewing?

You may have heard of Gong Fu style tea brewing, but how is it different from western style brewing?


Gong Fu "tea ceremony" style brewing is how tea has been traditionally brewed in the east. It emphasises high quality tea and the tea drinking experience. It may sound difficult, but it's very simple to do.

Gaiwan

The simplest difference between Gong Fu and western tea brewing is the amount of tea leaves used compared to the amount of water. Western tea brewing typically might use 1-2 grams of dry tea leaves for 8 fluid ounces of water, steeped for 2-3 minutes. For Gong Fu brewing the same tea, one would use 4 grams per 100ml, which is around 6 times the tea leaf to water ratio of western brewing.


Gong Fu brewing teaware is typically low volume, ranging from 80-250ml (2.7-8 fl oz). Gaiwans and small tea pots made of ceramic, glass, or clay are the most popular brewing vessels.



How it works: The Basics


A Gong Fu brewing session takes place on a tea table with a holes in it and a basin underneath to catch any spilled or poured tea. It starts by adding the appropriate amount of tea leaves to the brewing vessel. So let's say we are brewing Lu An Guapian green tea in a 150ml gaiwan. See the brewing guide to determine how much tea to use. We would add 6g of tea leaves to the gaiwan. Next we would pour 175°F water into the gaiwan, allow to sit for a few seconds, then pour out the water. This is the "rinse" which allows the leaves to start to saturate and open up to get them ready for the first infusion we drink.


Next, pour 175°F water into the gaiwan and allow to infuse for 15 seconds. Pour the liquor into a Gong Dao Bai "fairness cup". The purpose of the fairness cup is to make sure everyone gets the same strength tea, otherwise the tea that drains out of the gaiwan last will be strongest. Be sure to smell the wet tea leaves in the gaiwan and appreciate it. Next pour the tea liquor from the Gong Dao Bai into tea cups for yourself and your guests.


When you're ready for more tea, simply add more water to the gaiwan and allow to infuse again but for 5 seconds longer this time. Continue infusing the tea leaves until you feel you've gotten everything out of them. For Lu An Guapian this should be at least 5-6 infusions.



The Easiest Gong Fu Brewing


The easiest way to brew Gong Fu style for yourself or for multiple people is to use a flute brewer and a tall glass cup or cups. Add the tea leaves to the flute brewer and add water.

When the infusion is done, simply pull the glass cylinder out of the brewer which will take the leaves with it and set it on the brewer's lid. The flute brewer also acts as the Gong Dao Bai so you can just pour the tea into cups from there. This is a great way to brew tea Gong Fu style for yourself in the morning on your desk during the day.