Saturday, January 19, 2008

Gong Fu Tea

Having had several ceremonial tea ceremonies in China, I decided to try one of my own. We have had the teaset for some year - I can't remember when we bought it, but we have a purple clay teapot and jug, with 2 types of little cups (wide and tall) which sit on a small tray, inscribed with a poem. The cups have a design on them that becomes coloured when heated - in normal temperatures, the detail can't be seen.

I had always wondered why a milk jug was included in a Chinese tea set, and it wasn't until we had our first party with lawyer Chan that I realised that the jug was for decanting brewed tea into, not for milk. I had some Pu Erh tea leaves (not very expensive ones - the tin had been marked down to $2 at Foodtown many years ago!) so I heated up water and teapot and had a tea party for myself.

It's not that much fun pouring pots of tea at the kitchen bench with no-one to share the proceeds. I think I drank about 3 mugs of tea (in thimblefuls), and I really need the special tray to stand the teapot and jug on as it's a very wet process. I didn't really look like a gong fu master standing at the bench, but its better than sogging up the carpet.

So that's how you use the cups!

Teacup Set There are two types of teacups used in gongfu tea, the aroma cup and the drinking cup. The aroma cup is the taller of the two, and is where the tea is initially poured by the host. The guest then pours the tea into the drinking cup, then smells from the newly emptied aroma cup. The aroma remaining in the cup smells noticeably different from both the aroma of the tea in the cup and that of the dry leaves, and changes subtly as the cup cools. The guest then drinks from the drinking cup. Average dimensions: Capacity: 50 ml, Height 6 cm (aroma), Length 12 cm (tray)