Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Gongfu Cha

In China, people serve tea methodically according to tradition. Gongfu cha is the skill of serving tea (gongfu or "kung fu" means "skill"). In general application in China, tea serving is part of several aspects of the culture.

As its background character, tea plays a significant role in certain Chinese ceremonies. In weddings, tea is offered to the parents by the bride and groom, a symbol of their respect and the approval of the families.

In tea shops, tea is served using instruments to avoid touching the tasting cups and teapots, which are usually kept in simmering water and removed with tongs. The finest oolong tea is usually kept refrigerated, as its flavor is the most sensitive to changing levels of oxidization.

A traditional Chinese teamaster set uses a tray with a drain and an urn with handling instruments, which are typically made of wood, including a funnel for adding tea to small pots; tongs for handling the cups; a tea scooper; and a poker and scraper for removing leaves from the baskets. When served to guests, tea is offered with both hands with a respectful bow of the head, which is returned by the recipient.