Gong Fu Cha means ‘brewing tea with great skill’. The ceremony focuses on ensuring that the tea is perfectly brewed and that each guests enjoys it at its very best. It can be very formal and serious and may be performed to honour a special guest, or it can take place in a more relaxed and informal way when friends or family just want to enjoy a good cup of tea together.
Before brewing, the tea master gathers together all the pieces of tea equipage required – a kettle with hot water, the tea displayed in a little porcelain dish, a tray that allows water to drain away, a little teapot, a glass jug or guywan, tasting bowls, measuring scoops, etc. When everything is ready, the tea master places the pot and bowls on the tray and pours hot water over them to clean and warm them. Then he pours away the water from inside the pot and bows, measures the right amount of tea into the little pot, adds hot water and rinses the leaves, quickly pouring away the first water. More water is then added to the pot and the tea is allowed to brew. As soon as it is ready he pours the tea liquor into the jug or guywan and then carefully shares the liquor into the little drinking bowls and hands them to the guests. While they admire the clarity and colour of the brew and savour every sip, the tea master adds more water to the teapot and prepares a second brew. The brewing and sipping continues until the tea leaves are exhausted and can give no more flavour to the water.