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The Chinese art : Gong Fu Cha

More information about Chinese tea

1,What is the meaning of "Kung Fu Cha"?

The Chinese art of tea drinking dates from Ming dynasty (16th century), thus it has a 400 year old history.

It's a tea brewing process. In Chinese, Cha is "tea". For "Kung Fu", you might be familiar with one of it's meanings - martial arts. But it has more meanings in Chinese - hard work, labor, level of achievement, skill, free time, etc. Kung Fu Cha is the Chinese tea brewing process that has a little bit of ALL these meanings - you will find out why when you go through the whole process yourself.

2. What classes of tea are appropriate for Kung Fu Cha?

Oolong class . Kung Fu Cha uses YiXing teapots that retain a high temperature during brewing. High temperature is what it takes to extract flavor from Oolong.

However, tender tea classes like green tea should NOT be brewed with Kung Fu Cha.

3.What gadgets do you need?

(1)YiXing teapot (must) - YiXing teapot is slow in losing heat. Small (personal preference is below 6 oz) and deep teapot is preferable for best result. For convenience, bigger teapots can be used (the trade off is a lesser degree of control over flavor).

(2)Teacups or Gai wan (must) - that is, if you don't want to drink direct from the teapot. 3-4 cups of about 1 oz each is fine, depending on the size of the teapot.

(3)Tea Boat (not a must) - quite a bit of spill and waste water is produced during the process. The tea tray holds such water so you don't have to wipe it off the table. It might seem to be just for convenience but it's BIG convenience.

(4)Tea Tools (optional) - in the tool set, there are tea shuffle, funnel, tongs, digger, tea needle. You won't get into much trouble though if you brew without the tool set.

(5)Tea (must) - need no expert to tell tea is a must.

(6)Faircup (optional) - transitional container when teacups are full but tea in teapot has to be emptied to avoid overbrewing.

(7)Strainer (optional) - screens out small pieces of tea leaves.

(8)A pair of hands (must), and perhaps your mouth too.

(9)Source of hot water (must) - You can use a variety of source, say, a pot heated on stove, an electronic heating pot, etc. Just make sure whatever you use can give you boiling water.

 

4, What is the Ritual detail?

Heating the teapot

When the water begins to simmer, a small amount is poured into the yixing teapot which is set on a large deep dish known as a 'tea boat'. The teapot is covered with its lid, then emptied into a reserve teapot.

Preparing the leaves

Leaves are placed inside the teapot: It should be half full with water and leaves. A little water is added to rinse the leaves, then poured into the reserve pot.

Preparing the cups

The water from the reserve pot is poured into the tea boat around the teapot. Two cups made from Yi Xing clay - one small and one large - are turned over and set in this water to warm.

First infusion

The teapot is filled to overflowing to expel the scum. The teapot remains in the boat, covered with its lid, and water from the kettle is poured over it. The drop that remains on the spout of the teapot is observed until it disappears, this indicates that the infusion is ready.

First tasting

The two warmed cups are set on their saucers. The large cup, which is used to inhale the tea's aroma, is filled and emptied into the small cup. The drinker inhales deeply from the large cup in order to appreciate the tea's aroma, and then drinks from the small cup, sipping slowly.

The process can be repeated three times using the same leaves and procedure. In this case, the tea boat must be emptied regularly to avoid the water cooling. After three infusions, the wet leaves are replaced by fresh ones.

Prepared in this way, the tea is quite strong and must be savoured as a liquor in very small quantities.

5,What meaning about Host and Guest

The concept of Host and Guest is a metaphor in Buddhism relating to the relationship between people. Knowledge, effort, work, craft, art, expression, flow from one individual (the Host) to another individual (the Guest). This natural flow may be reversed at different times, so that the Host and Guest trade places. In serving Tea, the Host provides for the Guest and in so doing experiences caring for another, subduing the ego and honoring another. The Guest in turn, learns to accept kindness and benefit from another and discovers ways to show appreciation and gratitude. At the very heart of Cha Tao, is training in regard for one another. Social grace, etiquette, and good manners are merely and expression of this regard. Cha Tao is not a ceremony or ritual, rather it is a vehicle to express care for another.

6,About Mood to use Gong Fu Cha

In traditional Chinese culture, meditative states are achieved through activities other than formal sitting meditation. Tai Chi Chuan is often referred to as "moving meditation" because of the intense concentration and slow detailed movements performed with the entire body, which develops the same kind of heightened aware states of mind as meditation. The practice of Chinese Calligraphy also develops this heightened aware state and uses a free unconscious mind to write natural, organic characters free of contrivance.

In Gong Fu Cha, the slow, deliberate, fully involved state present in the practice of Tai Chi Chuan and the natural, smooth, uncontrived and elegant brushstrokes of Chinese Calligraphy both are present, propelling the practitioner into a special meditative state open to the appreciation of the beauty that surrounds the Art of Tea. The tea preparation is not fixed. There are no formulas or recipes for proper tea preparation. Each tea, each session, each group of guests all affect and change the tea experience. No two teas are alike and even with the same tea, you will experience a unique aroma, taste and ambiance each time you perform Gong Fu Cha. This is the fascination of the Art of Tea.

7,About Gong Fu Chas Lesson

The Gong Fu Cha experience is actually a series of lessons in the development of the senses and a quieting of the mind, greatly influenced by Buddhism, which spread the art of tea drinking throughout Asia. In the preparation of and serving of very fine teas, the host develops his listening and sensitivity skills in regard to his guests. The guests learn how to be in the moment and develop, heighten, and refine their ability to smell, taste, hear, and see, as well as expand their awareness with a pervasive mind.

The host begins long before the guests arrive by preparing the space in which the tea is to be served. As is a common Buddhist practice, clean lovingly the floor, table, objects, and environment in which the tea lesson will take place. Use a fine wooden table or use a fine, dark, tablecloth over a common table. Heat very good spring water in the glass or ceramic kettle to the point of a very low rolling boil and maintain the temperature with a low heat setting. Arrange the tea tray, select and arrange the pots and cups, the tea scoop, tea utensils, and waste water vase on the tea table. Be artful and mindful (concentrated) in your arrangement, but remember not to be too contrived (don抰 use a symmetrical formula), rather, create a pleasant, organized layout that is ergonomically convenient for you to use. The quality of the objects will express a natural beauty. These actions will prepare your mind to receive your guests with gracious elegance.

When the guests arrive, greet each one warmly and show them where you would like them to sit, assigning seats that make them feel relaxed and cared for. Tell them that you have prepared an oasis from the mundane world outside the tearoom. Ask that they relax and think only of the experience they are about to have and leave their day-to-day cares and concerns outside of this room. They can pick them up again when they reenter the ordinary world. Explain that like meditation, this is a special place and time in which the mundane world does not exist. Turn off the ringer to your phone and ask your guests to shut down their cell phones.

When the guests are seated, immediately begin by choosing a pot and tea. Discuss why you chose this particular pot and tea and explain what they are to expect from this tea: its fragrance, its taste, where it is grown, what is its classification, introduce the tea like a good friend, whom you would like the guests to get to know. Talk about the Yixing pot and why you use it: very fine clay grains so that it holds water without a glaze; the seasoning of fine teas in the pot over many years that enhance the flavor of teas served in this pot.

Place the pot and the tall cups into the tray arranging them so that the cups are touching one another, explain that when you pour water into them you are going to pour continuously over them, filling each one in turn without a break, very much like a Tai Chi Chuan player moves continuously from movement to movement or a calligrapher draws a character smoothly, blending lines, joints, curves and strokes so that it cannot be determined where the brush touched down on the paper. This action heats the pot and cups so that the water temperature does not drop when the tea steeps and is served.

Give each guest a tall cup filled with hot water by placing one on each of the guests tea tray settings next to their short cups. Take your own tall cup and place it next to your short cup on the tea tray. Ask the guests to take the tall cup and pour the hot water into their short cups, emptying their tall cups. The hot water in the short cups can be drunk as a palate wash to neutralize their palate for the tea to come. Do the same with yours.

Empty the pot of hot water by pouring off the water into the waste-water vase. Take the selected tea and pour some into the tea scoop, enough to equal one third the volume of the number of cups, ie: two cups of dry tea volume for six cups of water. Smell the dry leaves and pass the tea scoop to your guests to also smell the dry leaves. Discuss the aromas sensed. Open the pot lid and place the tea collar over the opening. Pour the dry leaves into the pot. Cover the pot and shake the leaves in the pot. This will hydrate the dry leaves somewhat because of the residual water left in the pot. Open the pot lid and smell the slightly hydrated leaves; the fragrance will be distinctly different than the dry leaves fragrances. Pass the pot around for your guests to smell the pot and ask each guest to describe what they smell. Suggest some language to describe the aromas, like: musty, toasty, green, sweet, nutty, fruity, etc. Ask the guests to return their tall cups to the tea tray and arrange them in a circle with the sides of the cups touching. Ask that they remember which cup is theirs.

When the pot returns, hold the pot over the waste-water vase and fill the pot with the heated water from the kettle. If bubbles form, tilt the pot slightly to pour off the bubbles into the waste-water vase. Cover the pot, let your internal sense tell you when the tea is ready, just a few seconds will do. Quickly pour the tea into the tall cups arranged in a circle in the tea tray holding the teapot handle and cap down by the small knob at the top of the lid. Keep the teapot close to the cups so that the water does not cool too much. Use a circular pouring motion called: "General Kuan Reviews His Troops", filling each cup partly and thereby controlling the strength of the steep for each guest. For a stronger steep pour later, a lighter steep, use a earlier pour. For an equal steep, divide the early pour with a later pour. If you know your guests preferences, you can cater to each accordingly.

Ask your guests to take their tall cups back to their tea trays by grasping the tall cups from the top sides with thumb and forefinger and with a finger under the tall cups foot for support and to avoid burning their hands. Invite them to smell the tea broth in the tall cups and then pour the tea broth into their short cups, emptying the tall cups. Ask them to smell the tall cups with an inhalation at the mouth of the tall cup. Caution them to breathe out away from the cup so as not to adulterate the aroma of the tall cups with their breath. A smooth motion of bringing the tall cup to the nose to inhale and then away from the face to exhale crates a rhythm like waves flowing in and out from the shore. Do the same with your cup and have a discussion about the aromas that can be discerned. Explain that this first steep is just a wash of the tea leaves that have not really opened. Treat this steep as a prelude to the rich intense aromas to come in the subsequent steepings.

When there is no longer any aroma in the tall cups to smell, place the tall cups back on the tea tray in a circle with the sides touching once again and pick up the short cups to drink the tea broth. Ask your guests to sip a small amount of the tea into their mouths and push and pull their tongues against the roof of their mouths while exhaling through their noses. This action will enhance their taste of the tea since we taste through our sense of smell. They may swallow the tea broth after a few tongue movements and try to pick out and describe as many tastes as they can. Direct your guests to continue to sip and taste the tea broth from the short cups until the cups are emptied of their broth. Do the same with your short cup demonstrating and explaining as you go along. After everyone has finished their tea, ask each guest to continue to tap their tongues on the roof of their mouths while opening and closing their mouths. Explain that although unusual, this action is not gauche or impolite, just the best way to taste. They should find that their mouths are coated with a residual flavor of the tea. This is known as "Lau Mei", remaining flavor and only occurs in very fine teas.

Now open the pot lid and smell the leaves in the pot and then the lid. They should smell distinctly different. The leaves will smell pungent and harsh, almost irritating to the nose, while the pot cover will smell sweet, floral, and quite pleasant. Pass the pot and lid to your guests and explain that very good tea must possess the characteristics of wonderful smelling pot lid and strong pungent leaves. This is because very good tea keeps its most harsh qualities in its leaves while releasing the most delicate pleasant scents. Explain that the short steep times keep the pungent and bitter elements in the tea leaves from emerging into the broth. Flavored or adulterated teas that may be fakes or copies will have the characteristic of the leaves, cap and broth smelling the same.

After the teapot returns to you, refill the pot with hot water from the kettle. The three variables in steeping tea are: Amount of leaves, Water temperature and Time of steep. Since the amount of leaves are now fixed in the pot you can only control the remaining two variables: Water temperature, and time of steep. Steep times must change as you go through the subsequent rounds of steeps, from quick in the first round to longer steeps in subsequent rounds. If you allow the water in the kettle to cool naturally, you must adjust the steep times accordingly. Use longer steep times with cooler water. Delicate less oxidized, greener teas are best with cooler water. All timing and measurements should not be by clock or thermometer. This is an Art practice and must be done with our natural, internal senses. It will take years of steeping many different kinds of fine teas to be able to truly maximize each teas excellent qualities. Be patient and keep trying. Explain all this to your guests and if you have experienced guests, invite them to time a brew or pour the tea.

This is now the second steep, allow more time for the tea leaves to release their essence into the water, perhaps twenty seconds will do. Quickly pour the tea broth into the waiting cups in the "General Kwan Reviews His Troops" pattern once again, remembering each guest抯 preference in strength of steep. Invite your guests to pick up their cups and smell the broth once again. Ask them to pour out the tea broth from the tall cups to their short cups and again continuously smell the tall cups and exhale away from the cups in a rhythmic wave. Discuss the aromas and return the tall cups to the tea tray in a circle pattern once again with the sides of the cups touching. Invite your guests to drink the tea broth from their short cups and discuss the flavors. Remind them to tap their tongues and exhale as before. Open the pot lid and smell the tea leaves and the pot lid and pass the pot around to the guests as before. Ask your guests to note any changes in the aromas of the cap and the leaves. The tall sniffing cups, the tea leaves, and the pot lid should all smell different from each other and different in each successive steep. The fragrances are related but unique. The tea broth should taste similar but different from before.

When the pot returns to you, refill with hot water from the kettle and time the steep. When you think it is ready pour the tea broth into the tall cups once again and serve. The guests should know what to do by now but will be reminded by your doing the same action with your cups; Smelling the tall sniffing cups and sipping from the short cups. This time when you pass the teapot around, ask your guests to examine the leaves in the pot and take one out for them to look at on a white background, an extra tea tray will be a good backdrop to examine the leaf. Explain that different teas use different leaves. Some use the larger lower leaves and some the small growing tips. When the growing tips are used, they are often in clusters of three. Note the color of the leaves. Greener leaves have very little oxidation and hydrate to almost their original shape and color. Oxidized teas will have brown withered leaves. This is a good time to talk about the rarity of whole leaf teas which must be picked by hand in the early hours of the day before the sun beats down on the leaves, prematurely oxidizing and shriveling the tender, new leaves. Machines would cut and break the leaves. Broken leaves release their essence all at once and often release their bitter essences as well as their sweet floral elements, making them useless for this kind of tea drinking experience.

At the next steep, invite your guests to smell your sniffing cup without touching it. Then smell theirs while they hold their cup out for you to smell. The cups should smell different. Invite them to do this with each other and discuss the experience. Explain that very fine teas have the ability to interact and change with fragrances and essences around it. Each persons?body chemistry alters the tea fragrance into a unique fragrance for that person, that environment, and that time. Each time you have tea, the experience will be distinctly unique. The same tea will taste uniquely different each time you drink it, creating a fascinating, infinitely variable experience.

Continue the rounds of steeps until you can taste the water through the broth and the fragrance in the sniffing cups become faint. The exhausted tea can be saved to steep up to five minutes in a large pot and drunk as a very good "ordinary " tea at another time.

If you want to change teas, you may do so somewhere around the fourth or fifth steeping to compare different teas. If you choose to do so, choose contrasting teas for your guests to experience. Compose a pageant of different teas for your guests to compare and contrast. This is your opportunity to be an artist and compose wonderful, unique tea experiences for yourself and your honored tea guests. Try reading or composing poetry about tea or look through art books. This will enhance the enjoyment of the tea experience.

When you are finished serving tea, boil the cups in a clean pot of water and remove to air dry. Scrape out the tea leaves and dry them. Allow the pots to air dry. Put everything away.

As you get better at the Art of Tea you can choose different environments like outdoor settings in the woods, mountains, river, ocean or lakeside, or different teahouses you may find. You might steep two teas simultaneously and compare them as you drink them together. Have fun being creative. When the tea leaves are truly exhausted, you can dry them and stuff them into small pillows whose fragrances will remind you of your wonderful tea experiences with good friends.

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