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



Vicki Flynn said...

Very interesting, R! My son goes to specialty stores for teas. He's not a coffee drinker (how'd that happen!?) He also collects Teavana Teapots...very pretty!

Vicki Flynn said...

I meant to say that I know Teavana teapots are Japanese, but they are lovely!!

Ari Signes said...

I LOVE this post !!!
I would like to learn how to make Gongfu Cha Brewing !!.
I am a coffee freek from head to toe and can't imagine starting the day without a cup but I am lover tea also and adore trying different blends like green Chinesse ,black tea with cinnamon , "Masala chai" (spiced tea from India) ,Moroccan mint tea Indian tea sutily flavoured with orange and lemon peel, rose petales and cinnamon or just tea with healthy jasmine...I love them all !!.In all those countries where they practice the way of tea No matter how the details of the external ceremonies of tea drinking may differ, all have the same basic :Tea is considered a gift, and you should consider it an honor if you ever find yourself partaking of their amazing hospitality.
Btw ...I am agree ,the Chinese tea ceremony is all about art, elegance, and harmony.
Thank YOU so much for this beautiful and instructive blog!

TJ Lubrano said...

I truly love the tea ceremony and the thoughts behind it. It means so much more than most people think. It's beautiful! Oh I simple adore the tea set and the little cups! Really nice!

I love this post, written in clear sentences and accompanied with lovely pictures! Very cool! I shall browse a bit further!


Kathy said...

Wowzer, Robert, I am blown away by your beautiful blog. Had to follow!

Katherine ( Katie) Corrigan said...

What a lovely post my sweet friend. My husband lived in China for sveral weeks with his job and brought back many ineteresting and fond memories too. Hugs!

John J Foster said...

Hi Robert, I agree with the other's, the blog post was well written but also well laid out.(I must try to take your example in my blog. it's about an expat living the good life in Malaysia. But I digress. This is about you and your post.forgive me.
Firstly I have alway been a tea drinker. but until I cam to live in Malaysia and have tea with my chinese friends I never knew what crap tea I had been given in the uk (so harsh) I think I will invest in a tea set. you have inspired me.

The Demure Angel said...

Nice! I'm a tea drinker myself but never tried anything beyond the usual black or green tea. The art of having tea in Asian culture is always beautiful and harmonious ritual. Thanks for sharing.

Lauralee said...

I was drinking coffee in my tea house in a rural village when suddenly upon me sprang a dragon flaming and fuming and I thought this would relate.

AB HOME Interiors said...

How amazing. This tea sounds wonderful, and just the experience alone would make it even more lovely!

softener water said...

Nice post! i like it , so interesting...Thank you for sharing it.