Saturday, July 31, 2010

Gong Fu Cha 功夫茶

Most of my friends know that I'm a total coffee freak! However, traveling so frequently to China, and later living there for a few years, I developed a huge love for tea as well. Not just because it's a bit difficult to find a good cup of coffee in China, but because I discovered the art and the deep traditions of Gong Fu Cha.

Over time you may have read my references to Gong Fu Cha (Gong-Foo-Chahh), so I thought it would be a good idea to explain exactly what it is, to those of you who may not know.

Gong Fu Cha simply means Traditional Tea Ceremony. I visited my first real Chinese tea house in 2005. It was an amazing place called the Huxinting Tea House in Shanghai. Since then, I've been fascinated and in love with traditional Chinese tea.

Huxinting Tea House
Immediately after moving to Shanghai, I asked my driver to take me to the places that Chinese people go to buy tea, the table, and everything else I needed to begin to learn how to do it myself. He totally hooked me up, and I began brewing my own Oolong tea and mastering the steps in my own home. I even designed a whole room around the ritual!

Mr Wang
Later, I learned that you didn't need to go to a tea house to find people drinking and serving tea. In just about every "mom & pop" store in Shanghai you'll find a Gong Fu Cha table, and a gracious store owner offering you tea when you walk in. It's absolutely wonderful!

Nan Jing Dong Lu
In both Shanghai and Shenzhen, Oolong tea was the most widely recommended. There are many different types of Oolong tea. And, it must be served from a small clay teapot, and poured into small porcelain teacups. Before sipping, the aroma is first consumed and enjoyed.

The Chinese tea ceremony is all about art, elegance, and harmony. I find it so interesting, relaxing, and wonderful. The ceremony starts by washing the teapot, teacups, and utensils in super hot water. Then repeating that process with the first pour of tea. This allows the tea, the pot, and the cups to become clean and pure.

After filling the teapot with water, the top is replaced, and the water is poured over the whole teapot to heat the clay all the way through. This speeds the heating and the inflation of the tea. When this whole process is performed by a real Chinese person in a real Chinese tea house, it's beautiful art in motion...

Besides the tea itself, and the traditional ceremony, there is the beautiful art in all the instruments of Gong Fu Cha. And, my personal collection is growing and growing...

My Shanghai Tea Room

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