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Tea Made with Skill, Patience

The word "Gongfu" in Chaozhou Gongfu Tea can mean "skill" or "patience." It is named partly because the tea making process is time-consuming and requires some skill to make tea.

Chaozhou natives have Gongfu tea any time of day, and anywhere —at home, work, or even in bars. Chaozhou Gongfu Tea sets are very small. The pottery teapot is no bigger than a fist and the white and transparent teacups are just larger than pigeon eggs. Traditionally, the Chaozhou people use a small charcoal stove, a small water kettle and a porcelain base for holding tea sets. Spring or well water is good for making Gongfu Tea.

Both teapot and teacups are first cleaned with boiling water to get rid of the remaining tea flavour and to warm the set. Then a handful of loose tea is put into the teapot almost to the rim.

Gong fu tea set

The kettle is generally raised high to pour the boiling water into the teapot. The first round of tea is not meant for drinking as it contains impure materials and foam. The second round is then poured with a circular motion into each teacup to keep the color and consistency of the tea in all the cups. To avoid creating foam and scattering the fragrance of tea, the teapot should be held close to the teacups.

The first sip tastes slightly bitter, but very soon, the sweet and mellow after-taste lingers, which is said to help Chaozhou Gongfu Tea remain the most charming tea culture in China. Chaozhou natives tend to use tea leaves grown locally, which belong to the half-fermented Oolong tea series for tea making.

© Qi Journal, Summer 2004

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