FREE Shipping on US Orders $60+ FREE Shipping on US Orders $60+

Gongfu Tea


Gongfu Tea

The term "gongfu" denotes any skill that is developed through discipline and practice such as chinese painting, martial arts or chinese tea making. Gongfu cha (“kung fu” tea) generally refers to the more traditional preparation of tea using particular vessels such as a gaiwan, a small clay or porcelain teapot, a sharing pitcher and small teacups.

With gongfu preparation, tea is steeped in concentrated quantities (much like an espresso coffee) using short, multiple infusions of a single batch of leaves, to bring out the best flavor. It is a precise and thoughtful ritual that allows the tea lover to fully appreciate all the sensory aspects of tea, the beauty of the leaf and its subtle flavor and aroma.

The choice of gongfu tea ware will depend on the type of tea to be brewed. For green teas, white teas and lighter, fragrant oolong teas, a gaiwan or small porcelain teapot is recommended. Porous clay teapots are best for roasted oolong teas, black teas and pu-erh. In order to brew a concentrated infusion, the teapot or gaiwan capacity should be less than 8 ounces.

Follow these guidelines:

Arrange your utensils

The key accessories needed to prepare tea in the gongfu style are either a gaiwan or small clay teapot, a serving pitcher, small tasting cups and a wastewater bowl or draining tray. Prepare the tea leaves and have them ready to be placed into the brewing vessel as soon as it has been warmed. 

Rinse the teapot and cups

This step signifies the beginning of the tea making ritual and represents the purification of the brewing vessel so that it is free of dust and residue.

Pour hot water from the tea kettle into the empty teapot or gaiwan to fill it completely and then pour the water from the teapot into the serving pitcher and then into the tasting cups. After rinsing, the water should be discarded into the wastewater bowl or draining tray.

Add tea and rinse the leaves

This step removes any dust from the leaves and opens them up to release the tea's aroma. Add enough dry leaves to the teapot to fully cover the bottom of the teapot or gaiwan. Pour hot water over the tea leaves and immediately pour this water into the wastewater bowl or draining tray. Remove the lid and savor the aroma of the leaves.

Infuse and serve

Fill the teapot or gaiwan to the top with water of the appropriate temperature and cover. Let tea steep about 1 minute for the first brew. 

When the leaves have infused, pour the tea out into the serving pitcher and then into the tasting cups.


One of the benefits of using high quality, loose leaf teas is that they can be re-steeped up to 2 or 3 times for green and white teas and up to 6 times for oolong and pu-erh teas. To re-steep, increase the steeping time about 15-20 seconds with each infusion. Experiment with steeping times to accommodate your taste. However, excessively long steeping can result in a bitter infusion. It is not recommended that tea leaves be left for a long period of time between infusions.