Gongfu tea ceremony is an experience to see while staying at The Ritz Carlton Sanya Yalong Bay Club Lounge; Sally Zhang Ritz Carlton Sanya Club Manger invited me to watch this authentic ceremony while staying at this always innovate resort in Sanya Yalong Bay, Hainan. The ceremony involves the ritualized preparation and presentation of tea. More than likely based on the tea preparation originating in Fujian and the Chaoshan area of eastern Guangdong. The term literally means “making tea with effort”. Today, the approach is used popularly by teashops carrying tea of Chinese origins and by tea connoisseurs as a way to maximize the taste of a tea selection, especially a finer one.
In essence, what is desired in Gongfu Cha is a brew that tastes good and is satisfying to the soul. Tea masters in China study for years to perfect this method, however, method alone will not determine whether a great cup of tea will be produced. Essentially, two things have to be taken into consideration: chemistry and temperature.
The first stage of preparation is known as “warming the pot and heating the cups.” At this point the cups and pot are laid on the table. They are then warmed and sterilized with hot water; the excess is then poured away. The second stage of the preparation is known as “appreciate excellent tea.” At this point those who would partake of the tea during the ceremony examine and appreciate its appearance, smell, and its other characteristics.
The third stage of the preparation is known as “The black dragon enters the palace” The teapot is filled with tea, for a 150 ml tea pot at least 5 grams of tea leaves are used, however depending on the size of the pot and the strength of the tea the pot may be filled between 1/2 and 2/3 full.
The leaves are now rinsed using hot water poured from some height above the pot; this is known as “rinsing from an elevated pot”. This is done by putting the teapot on the catching tray. Water heated to the appropriate temperature for the tea is then poured into the pot until the pot overflows.
Any debris or bubbles which form on the surface are then scooped away gently to keep the tea from around the mouth of the pot which is then closed with the lid. This is known “the spring wind brushes the surface.”
At this point some suggest that the tea be steeped for a short while, and discarded into the cups “bathe the immortal twice”. This is in order that the temperature inside and outside of the pot is the same. Others recommend immediately pouring the first brew into all of the cups without allowing the tea to steep.
Customarily this first brew is poured into the cups but is not drunk. This is known as “A row of clouds, running water”. It is essentially a slightly extended washing of the leaves.
The pot is then refilled with fresh hot water until the water reaches the mouth of the pot. This is known as “Direct again the pure spring” or “pouring again from a low height.”
This second term refers to an important principle in the brewing of Chinese tea ceremonially, “high to rinse, low to pour.” This is because in the rinsing the tea is rinsed using the force of water poured from a height, whereas in the brewing water is poured closer to the leaves in order not to force the flavor from the leaves too rapidly.
The bubbles which may have formed on the surface are removed using the lid, and the pot is closed. The hot tea from the first brew is then emptied over the teapots outside. Wait for 20 to 50 seconds, depending on the type and quantity of the tea used before beginning to serve the tea.
In most Chinese gongfucha ceremony the tea is poured evenly into the teacups, in a circular manner around the guests. A quality oolong tea is good for anywhere from 4 to 8 infusions. Some Puerh teas can last for 8 or more infusions. Each subsequent pot follows the same procedure, but requires a slightly longer infusion time.
The aroma of the tea is enjoyed as well as its taste. In this case, the tea is first poured into the tea jug, and then into scent cups or sniffer cup. This is known as “bathing the scent cup.”
The drinking cup is placed upside down over the top of the scent cup and balanced there. This is known as “The dragon and phoenix in auspicious union.” This is a ritualized action, and is viewed by some as a form of prayer for the prosperity, well-being, and happiness of the guests.
The two are inverted so that the scent cup is upside down in the drinking cup. This is known as “the carp turns over.”
The final stage, “respectfully receive the fragrant tea,” occurs when the scent cup is lifted and the tea is released into the drinking cup. The guest can then enjoy the aroma of the tea from the scent cup before consuming the tea from his drinking cup. In good etiquette the drinker will drink his tea in three sips, no less; the first a small one, the second the main one, and the last an after taste.
End of ceremony
The ceremony ends with the used tea leaves being put into a clean bowl for the guests to appreciate the tea in its used form. Good etiquette dictates that the guests should make appropriate compliments regarding the choice of tea. When I came into the lounge to watch this experience the room was quiet with guests eagerly anticipating the beginning of this tradition. Maria Wang Huan Huan, who has studied the art of the Gongfu tea ceremony for 8 months in Zheng Zhou Henan Province can recommend a variety of teas for different aliments, after all tea is a healthy addition to your lifestyle. Across China “tea clubs’ are institutions where business people will meet, as the Gongfu tea ceremony brings the guests to a harmonious moment for business to begin on a fragrant note. Begin all your fragrant notes at the Ritz Carlton Sanya Yalong Bay, Hainan.
Gongfu tea ceremony is an experience to enjoy at The Ritz Carlton Sanya Yalong Bay Club Lounge, Yalong Bay National Resort District, Sanya, Hainan 572000 China. Phone: +86 898 8898 8888
The Ritz-Carlton Sanya,Yalong Bay, National Resort District, Sanya, Hainan 572000 China. Phone: +86 898 8898 8888