How to brew oolong using the gong fu cha method
How to brew oolong using the gong fu cha method (spills), without having special utensils for the tea ceremony.
5 steps and some tips. Detailed guide.
Oolong tea is well suited for the tea ceremony. It has a bright organoleptic (flavor-aromatic properties) that change during the brewing process, from strait to strait. Old oolong, in addition to an interesting and deep taste, can also have an extraordinary power of influence on the body – the Chinese call it Qi. Therefore, oolongs are very popular, both among beginners and among tea masters. Aged quality oolong can have a serious collector’s value.
Here you are, finally, decided to try a good oolong and understand what is so wonderful about it – what tea masters can talk about for hours, with ecstasy and delight. In the photo or video, you can see a whole mountain of different devices and tea utensils under the hands of the master. We assure you that for the first acquaintance, even with a very serious tea, you can do with a minimum set of dishes.
For brewing by the gongfu cha method, for two or three people, we recommend using a brewing container with a volume of 100-200 ml. We do not recommend using glass teapots: glass does not keep heat well and, for example, dark oolongs will not fully open in the glass. A ceramic or clay teapot or a gaiwan is best suited. In this article, we will use the Japanese shiboridashi as one of the visual and convenient tools with an average drain rate.
You will also need a chahai (tea pitcher), cups, and a container for draining the flushing infusion. So, let’s say you already have everything you need on your desk.
If you do not have a special tea board yet, you can take a large bowl and put the kettle inside – when brewing, excess water will remain at the bottom of the bowl. This rather popular way of serving gong fu cha is called “tea pond” (cháchí 茶池). Prepare a piece of cloth to remove the water from the bottom of the kettle before pouring the tea.
Step 1. Warm up the kettle.
Rinse the kettle with boiling water. Do not drain the water immediately, let the kettle warm up properly. Put in it oolong at the rate of 1 g of tea per 20 ml of water. Our shibo has a volume of 120 ml, so we will take 6 grams of tea, from which we can get about 1.2 liters of ready-made infusion.
How much tea per teapot: for oolong – 1 g of tea per 20 ml of water.
A few words about the water quality. We prefer to use as soft water as possible, as mineral (hard) water makes the taste of tea “cloudy “due to its”salinity”. This is expressed in the subtle taste of soda in the tea. Beginners, as a rule, do not distinguish this taste, but with blind parallel brewing, almost everyone will notice a less interesting taste of the infusion on hard water. Of course, there can be no universal recipe for water for tea, it is desirable to select water individually for different teas. For example, harder water can decorate Shu-pu-erh or red teas. But in our opinion, it interferes with oolong and green teas.
Step 2. Rinse the tea.
For brewing, use hot water (85-90 C). We do not recommend brewing oolong with boiling water (100 C) if it is young and light. Boiling water brews light varieties of tea and destroys the delicate components of the taste, turning the tea into a “compote”. For the first time, fill the tea with water so that the water only covers the tea leaf. Then close the kettle with a lid, shake the contents lightly and immediately pour the water through the spout into the chahai-we washed the tea from the dust and steamed the tea leaf. For the role of chahai, a small glass or ceramic jug is best suited. In principle, any container with a handle and a spout for convenient draining is suitable.
Why do we need intermediate chahai dishes? In order not to overdo the tea and so that the tea infusion in the cups is of the same saturation. It happens that teapots have a slow drain, and the tea is brewed quickly – the tea pitcher equalizes the strength of the infusion. Therefore, it is called in China GōNgdào bēi 公 公道, which means “the cup of justice”. In Russia, it is more often called chahai (cháhǎi 茶海 – “sea of tea”).
Step 3. Warm up the cups.
Now pour this infusion into cups and in a minute pour it into any container for draining tea waste. It is not necessary to drink it, it is a sanitary infusion, which must be drained from the kettle all, to the last drop. At this stage, we washed and warmed the chahai and the cups. It is better to choose the smallest cups available. Small bowls, for example, are well suited.
Remove the lid from the kettle and inhale the smell. A good oolong will immediately give you a viscous, fruit-berry, rich aroma. Do everything slowly, tea does not tolerate fuss. The washed tea can be allowed to stand for one to two minutes.
Step 4. Brew the tea.
Fill the oolong with hot water, completely, under the lid. If you use a gaiwan, then pour the water gently, along the edge, to reduce the force of the” impact ” of hot water. With a kettle, this is more difficult to do. The water temperature should be the same – 85-90 C. For the convenience of maintaining the desired temperature, it is best to use a thermos. After 15-20 seconds, carefully pour the infusion from the kettle into the chahai.
For brewing, use hot water (85-90 C). Do not brew with boiling water (100 C). For the convenience of maintaining the desired water temperature, it is best to use a thermos.
Brewing tea in spills involves a high concentration of tea leaves and a relatively fast draining of the infusion. Therefore, it is important to carefully consider the time of insisting. If the tea is strongly overexposed at the beginning or middle of the session, then all other spills will become tasteless-the infusion will lose its density, while there will be bitterness and astringency.
To catch the feeling of the correct brewing time, you can use the rule of three slow breaths and exhalations. By the way, this rule will help you relax and concentrate on the process. The tea ceremony will gain depth and become a real meditation.
Step 5. Pour into cups.
Pour the oolong into the cups. So, this is a ready-made tea. Drink it without diluting it with water. We recommend waiting a little while until it cools down to about 50 C. Oolong is especially good when they do not have to be burned – then all its taste and aroma is available for perception. Drink the tea and try to exhale lightly through your nose. Listen to the sensations in the nasopharynx. You will be pleasantly surprised.
Step 4 can and should be repeated at least seven times. Good oolongs confidently hold seven or ten straits. Keep in mind that the taste of tea is really revealed only by the third strait. The exposure time can be gradually increased by bringing it to a minute on late straits.
In many online stores, you can find instructions for the temperature and time of brewing. Most often, it indicates 80-90 degrees and 1-2 minutes (3-5 minutes). This is the European method of brewing by infusion. In this case, you need to take 2-3 grams of tea leaves per 200-250 ml of water. But we would recommend drinking oolong in spills, as described above. The taste of tea varies from strait to Strait, these changes are interesting to track. By slightly changing the brewing parameters (water temperature, infusion time), you can achieve a more accurate and suitable taste for you.
If you have started brewing oolong, then finish it to the end – do not interrupt the tea drinking process for a long time. If the teapot and the tea leaves that have opened inside have time to cool down, you will lose a good half of the taste qualities of oolong and the tea may start to taste bitter. Moreover, you should not drink oolong the next day.