Gongfu Tea Brewing became popular during China’s Ming Dynasty about the year 1500. The difference between using the regular brewing method and the Gongfu tea method is in the amount of tealeaves used and the steeping duration of the tea. The Gongfu method involves using more tealeaves, but the infusion duration is shorter. This allows for multiple infusions. This method of brewing requires practice and the term “Gongfu style” literally means using great skill to brew tea. This method is great for Oolong teas and good for Black teas, but generally isn’t meant for Green or Scented teas.
Terms and Equipment:
These are the teapots used for Gongfu style brewing. These pots are made from porous purple clay and actually absorb the flavors of the tealeaves to produce a more enjoyable cup of tea.
Serving Pot or Vessel:
Once the tea is steeped for the desired amount of time, then the tea is poured from the teapot into this serving vessel. This is to stop the infusion process.
Before there were Teapots…
Teapots are relatively a new invention compared to the amount of time that tea has been around. In the 7th century, tea came in bricks. A chunk was cut off and then broken up so that it can be boiled in water. They were boiled in cauldrons and then the tea was sipped from wide bowls. Shortly after, powdered tea became popular. The grounded tea was mixed with hot water in a deep and wide bowl. This type of bowl helped facilitate the whipping of the powder to a froth with a whisk. When the powder settled, the tea was drunk out of the bowl.
Early forms of Teapots
The traditional teapots weren’t needed until the type of tea changed. In the 1300′s, leaf infusion started and now teapots were necessary to allow for the tea to steep. Teapot-like vessels have been around in China for thousands of years, but they were used for wine and water. These vessels had a spout and handle and eventually were adopted for the steeping of tea….
Accidental Discovery of Tea
In 2737 BC, legend has it that leaves from a tree dropped into Emperor Shen Nung’s cup of boiling water. The servant had boiled the water for hygienic reasons before the emperor was to drink it. But this time the water was turned brown by the wayward leaves. Being a scientist, the emperor was curious and decided to try some of this new liquid. He found the liquid aromatic and refreshing. Since that serendipitous beginning, tea has been part of many cultures down through the years.
Tea moves to Japan via Buddhist Priests
2000 years after the beginnings of tea, Buddhist priests traveling between Japan and China introduced this drink to Japan. The priests brought tea seeds back to be cultivated in Japan. This was such a success that tea quickly became an integral part of Japanese life. The Japanese Tea Ceremony was soon perfected with the help of Ch’a Ching (The Tea Book, written by Chinese Scholar Lu Yu).
Tea Leaps to Europe through Trade
Tea reaches Europe during the 1600′s,…