Gong Fu Tea Brewing became popular during China’s Ming Dynasty around the year 1500. The difference between the Western method and the Gong Fu Cha method is in the ratio of tea leaves to the quantity of water used, and the steeping duration of the tea. The Gong Fu Cha method involves using more leaves, but the infusion duration is shorter. This allows for multiple infusions. It generally involves using a clay teapot called Yixing, or a ceramic or glass small vessel called Gaiwan. This method of brewing requires practice and the term “Gong Fu style” literally means the art of brewing tea skilfully. Gong Fu Cha is great for Oolong teas, and Pu'erh teas, but can also works for other types of tea. The following video describes the steps in brewing tea Gong Fu Cha style.
I sincerely believe that brewing and tasting tea is not at all complicated. All you need is a vessel (preferably a teapot, but it is not required), a kettle (or a little saucepan, a stove or a warmer unit), filtered water and good quality loose leaf tea; of course, a moment to relax and appreciate the aromas and flavours, along with the relief and enjoyment of a beautiful beverage.
A beautiful tea always looks good in the cup, smells good up close, taste good on your tongue, feels good in the body and always puts you in a good mood.
For successful steeping, here are some helpful hintsto keep in mind:
- Whatever vessel you use, teapot or other, ensures it does not retain odours. Certain materials retain odours that could spoil your tea.
- Also, you want to make sure the vessel is big enough for the quantity of leaves you are steeping. Keep in mind that a tea leaf triples in volume while steeping. If you use a teapot or cup with an infusing basket, the dried leaves should not fill up more than one-third of the space. If not, the leaves will not get enough space to expand and release their flavours.
- While using tap water, it is highly recommended passing it through a charcoal filter, like Brittato get rid of chlorine and Fluor. You can also use bottled water, if so; choose one with pH as close as possible to 7.
- Follow the brewing instructions on water temperature and steeping time for each type of tea. A too hot or not hot enough water will give flat and off liquor without flavour and aromas. If steeped too long, the liquor will get bitter and astringent more than it should, whereas short steeped liquor won’t deliver all its flavour.
- The water temperature, WHAT A HEADACHE! If you consider drinking tea on a regular basis, and that you’re willing to spend money on expensive premium loose leaf tea, let me suggest that you buy a specialty tea kettle with temperature control by tea type. They cost around +/- $100, believe me it is well worth it. If you don’t want to spend that much money, here is what you can do :
- Bring water up to boiling point. NEVER LET BOILING GO ON AS OXYGEN WILL GO OUT. At that point it will get to 100ºC. This is where the bubbles get to surface without explode and make splashes.
- Once boiling is done, the water temperature will drop off about one degree every minute (take off or lift the lid).
- To go faster, use a cooling pot, preferably one with a spout such as a glass measuring cup, pitcher or other. Once in the cooling pot, the water temperature will drop off 10 º C. and then, one degree every minute.
- Finally, for an optimum result, warm up the teapot and the cups with hot water. Throw out the water then place the leaves into the teapot. Put the lid on and let the leaves warm up for a minute. This will wake up the aromas; lift up the lid halfway and smell the aromas, put the lid back until you pour in the water. Throw out the water from the cups prior to pouringthe liquor.
- It is important to stop the steeping process as soon as the timer goes off. If you use a teapot with an infusing basket, take it off right away. If you steeped the loose leaves directly in the teapot, pour out all the liquid into the cups or another teapot (that has been warmed up) and put it on a warmer. Use a strainer to filter the leaves.
- If you keep your tea on a warmer or into a thermos, some helpful hints that non oxidised or lightly oxidised teas such as white, green and some oolongs, will get bitter and astringent past two hours. Black teas are more stables and can stand up to three or four hours.
- Before you take your first sip, appreciate the aromas. Smell the perfumes released from the cup.
- Look at the liquor colour.
- Taste the liquor. Take a mouth full while slurping it with a bit of air. Let it go around your mouth from under your tongue to your palate and taste all the flavors before to swallow. Then, exhale a bit of air from your nose to your mouth and once again, taste the flavours that will seem different.
- Lastly smell the aromas that are released from your empty cup.
Let me suggest that you keep record of you tasting notes in a little book. Write down the supplier, the date of purchase, the harvesting season, and the growing altitude. With each of your tastings, you will get to know your preferences. Be curious, search about each tea. There is a lot to learn about origin, history, terroir, production and different brewing styles (Gong Fu Cha, Sen Cha Do) and accessories…
Enjoy many relaxing moments while drinking good tea!
Making iced tea is nothing complicated; even if you make a tiny mistake here or there, you will always get a better iced tea. Making it yourself from good quality loose leaf tea, is much better than if you make it from the powdered stuff from the store, which contains a great deal of added sugar and artificial flavour. It can be a fun parent-child activity that your kids will love.
When making tea, two components always come together:
- good quality loose leaf tea
- water exempt of chlorine.
While choosing good quality loose leaf tea and filtered water, you put all chances for success on your side.
All tea types make good iced tea, although subtle white tea taste can be lost while adding fruits, juice and sweetener. Black tea is always one of my favorites, green tea and oolong tea make great iced tea as well. Don’t forget the Rooibos and fruit blends, they are a great caffeine free alternative for the whole family.
Water has major impact on tea taste. If your tap water smells chlorine, you should use a “Brita” type filter or use bottled spring water. Remember: great tasting water makes great tasting tea.
Six rules to make the perfect iced tea:
- When brewing pure tea (without flavoring), use 10g of loose leaf for one liter of water at room temperature.
- If your recipe contains fruit juice, use 15g of loose leaf per water liter.
- If you like your tea stronger, add more leaves; never steep longer than recommended, this would allow the tannins to develop too far and to create bitterness. For a lighter taste, shorten the steeping time; do not reduce the recommended leaf quantity.
- Use good quality and healthy sweetener such as honey, maple syrup, agave syrup or brown rice syrup. For a low calorie tea use Stevia, which is more natural than the other brands. For best results, make simple tea syrup by mixing one part of water to two parts of sweetener, mix well and bring to boil for two minutes. The light syrup dissolve much better in cold tea.
- Always let the steeped tea completely cool down before puttingit in the refrigerator; this will reduce the chances of cloudy teaand/or bitter.
- Only use 100% natural fruit juices, not made from concentrate (organic preferably). Frozen juices are good alternative. Why ruin a good quality tea with artificial flavour?
1. Brewed at room temperature
This method is the one who gives a well-balanced, tasty and beautiful clear tea.
Tea Type Leaves/ 1L water Steeping time Note
Pure black tea (without flavour) 10g Over night (at least 8 hours)
Pure green tea (without flavour) 10g Two to four hours Taste the tea after two hours, and then each half hour, until you get the taste you want.
Flavored black tea 15-20g One hour
Flavored green tea 15-20g 30 minutes. Good for white and oolong tea as well.
In all cases, once steeping time ends, strain out leaves, add other ingredients and refrigerate.
2. Brewed in hot water
This method is faster but can result in a cloudy and bitter tea
Tea Type Leaves/ 1L water Steeping time Note
All tea types 8g Follow the instructions If you add fruit juice, use 12g to 15g of loose leaves.
on your tea tin
Let completely cool down, add other ingredients and refrigerate.
3. Brewed in the refrigerator
This method is recommended with Japanese green tea, Rooibos, fruit and herbal blends
Tea Type Leaves/ water Water temperature Steeping time
Japanese green tea 10g/ 1L Cool 3 hours in refrigerator
Rooibos, fruit blend and
herbal blend* 10g/ 1 cup 95 deg. Celsius 5 minutes
*Rooibos, fruit or herbal blends: Once steeping time ends, add one cup (or so) of ice cubes and fill one liter container or jar with cold water; refrigerate until ice cubes have completely melted. Strain out the leaves and add other ingredients.
If you have a Hario Filter-In bottle, you don’t even have to strain out the leaves. You can add the other ingredients with the ice cubes and keep everything in your bottle; it is so easy!