What is Gong Fu?
Gong Fu is a traditional tea ceremony. It should not be confused with the Chinese Martial Arts of the similar/same name, Gong-fu or Guoshu.
Gong Fu is a traditional method of tea preparation that is said to have originated in China. It is from the Fujian Province in China. And the traditional tea that is used for the Gong Fu Ceremony is Oolong tea.
The Gong Fu ceremony places all of the emphasis on making the best tea possible. Instead of showcasing the acts of the ceremony itself, the fragrance and the preparation are tantamount. Other nationalities may place emphasis on the ceremonial skills and technique of the tea ceremony.
Having the preparation be a huge part of the outcome of the tea itself there are many things that the Chinese insist on having at the traditional Gong Fu ceremony they are:
1. using spring water (Chinese believe if one does not use fresh spring water the teas served will be flat.)
2. the use of tiny clay pots called Yixing pots (pronounced e-sheeng)
3. long serving table to house the ceremony wares
4. appropriate tea utensils, tea pitcher, tea towels, and tea plate
5. incense and soft music
6. and last but never least Oolong tea or Puer uh tea (typically loose twisted leaves)
If one has these necessary items the ceremony can begin. Guests are invited to watch the ceremony after the incense is burning and the soft music is playing. The long traditional table will have the utensils lined up. On needs a tea spoon or scoop (used for getting the tea leaves out of container), a tea funnel (to place on top of small pots so tea leaves do not fall out), a tea cleaner (a long stick that is inserted into a spout in case of clogs), a tea prong (similar to tongs, used to pick up tea cups-the hand nor finger shall not touch the cup).
A separate tea strainer may be used if necessary. Water is boiled (190-200 degrees) in the Yixing pot, then it is poured into another waiting Yixing pot, and then finally the water is then poured out and into the third waiting pot. The oolong is then placed into the pot, the tea pot can be rocked gently in a circular motion to warm pot and to get ready the tea leaves for expansion.
The next step is to wash the cups. The reserve pot of water is used to cleanse cups that are situated in “tea bowls” or drinking bowls. The tiny cup is called a fragrance cup or aroma cup. When the water is poured on them the use of the tea prong is used to wash the cups.
It is only now that the server will pour the oolong into the drinking cup. Pour out water in tea bowls. Place the warm tea bowl on top of the tea cup. This is called the “happy family”. Now invert (turn over) the two. Drinking cup will be upside down in bowl; this is called “jumping over the dragon gate”. This wishes those present much success in their business or endeavor.
Finally the last step is to drink the tea. A traditional way to do this is to do it in three steps. They are:
1. sip small and move around mouth and breathe in fragrance
2. sip small and move taste over tongue
3. final sip drink all and enjoy fragrance again.
Now taking your empty drinking cup in hands and roll between fingers as at a traditional Chinese Gong Fu ceremony, your cup will be hot and it is said that this will provide good circulation and relief for those with arthritis in the hands and fingers.
I hope that you have enjoyed my rendition of the typical Chinese Gong Fu ceremony.
And may you find yourself “jumping over the dragon gate”!