September 17, 2021
What is a kung fu tea set?
The gongfu tea ceremony or kung fu tea ceremony (Chinese: 工夫茶 or 功夫茶), is a kind of Chinese tea ceremony, involving the ritual preparation and presentation of tea.
It is probably based on the tea preparation approaches originated in Fujian and the Chaoshan area of eastern Guangdong. The term literally means "making tea with skill". The approach often involves using smaller brewing vessels and a higher leaf-to-water ratio than in western-style brewing. Today, the approach is used popularly by teashops carrying tea of Chinese origins, and by tea connoisseurs as a way to maximize the taste of a tea selection, especially a finer one.
Below is a list of the main items used in a gongfu tea ceremony in Taiwan, known there as 老人茶 (Pinyin: Lăorénchá):
- Brewing vessel, Yixing teapot, porcelain teapot, or a covered bowl gaiwan.
- Tea pitcher (chahai), or any matching size decanting vessel, used to ensure the consistency of the flavor of the tea (Chinese: 公道杯, Pinyin: gōng dào bēi).
- Hot water kettle, e.g. an electric kettle.
- Brewing tray, or a deep, flat bottom porcelain plate to hold spills (spills are typical).
- Tea towel or tea cloth, usually dark colored.
- Tea knife or tea pick for clearing the teapot spout and separating leaves from tea cakes.
- Tea cups (traditionally three cups are used in most instances), matching size. Also named Pinming Cup (品茗杯).
- Strainer, a tea strainer (Chinese: 漏斗; pinyin: lòu dŏu; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: liō tó͘) sometimes built into the tea pitchers.
- Tea holder, tea leaf holder for weighing and dispensing, or a wooden tea spoon to measure the amount of tea leaves required (Chinese: 茶匙, Pinyin: chá chí).
- Optional: Tea basin or bowl used as the receptacle for used tea leaves and refuse water.
- Optional: Scale.
- Optional: Kitchen thermometer.
- Optional: Scent cup (snifter cup) used to appreciate the tea's aroma (Chinese: traditional 聞香杯, simplified 闻香杯, Pinyin wén xiāng bēi).
- Optional: A pair of tongs called "Jiā" (Chinese: 挾) or "Giab" (Pe̍h-ōe-jī: gia̍p) in both the Chao Zhou and Min Nan dialects.
- Optional: A calligraphy-style brush with a wooden handle, which is used to spread the wasted tea evenly over the tea tray to ensure no part dries out and the tea "stain" is spread evenly to ensure a pleasing colour to the tray.
- A tea pet, usually made from the same clay as a Yixing teapot, is fun to have. One kind of "tea pet" is a "tea boy." Prior to the tea ceremony, he is soaked in cold water. Hot water poured over him during the tea ceremony will make him "pee." Traditionally these 'pets' are classical Chinese figurines, such as a Dragon, Lion Turtle, or Toad, and are used as a receptacle over which the wasted tea is poured, usually to develop a patina.