Tea Master Olivia

The Chinese have a special method for brewing tea, which can produce remarkable results. It is called the Gungfu Cha method. Gungfu means "skill and care" or "techniques."

The Gungfu method is typically used for more complex tea like oolong and pu-erh. The typical method uses a very small teapot, preferably a Yixing-style terracotta teapot, small thimble-sized cups, bamboo tweezers, a bamboo scoop, and a tray with drains.

Everything in Gungfu service is small and delicate, revealing the elegance of the tea it promotes. If you do not have a Gungfu tea set, you can approximate the method with an ordinary teapot, though the result may not be quite as good.

Genuine Yixing Terracotta teapots are made of sandy clay found near the town of Yixing in Jiangsu province. Yixing-style teapots are made in a wide range of shapes and thickness, and are not glazed. The porous clay of an unglazed pot is seasoned by repeated infusions of tea leaves, and does not need to be cleaned.

  1. You first want to pour hot water over the cups and teapot
  2. Then put leaves in the teapot and rinse or awaken them with boiled water
  3. Immediately pour out the water, drain completely
  4. Refill the pot with water and place the lid tightly
  5. Pour boiling water over the top of the teapot and allow the tea to steep for 20 to 30 seconds depending on the amount of tea and tea type. This infusion has the strongest aroma
  6. Some methods use two sets of cups. The tea is poured into the first cup (the sniffing cup) and then poured into the second cup (the tasting cup)
  7. One then smells the aroma left behind in the sniffing cup, and drinks from the tasting cup
  8. Make sure each cup contains in equally strength by filling the cups halfway first, then finishing them off the opposite direction (usually left to right, then right to left)
  9. Or use a faircup for serving. Faircup is a pitcher-like cup; the brewed tea should be drain completely into the faircup and then served.
  10. The second infusion should be few seconds shorter time as the first because the leaves are already unfurling, adding time will be release the flavour too quick.
  11. Subsequent infusions take progressively longer. Some teas can take four to five infusions, or more. A great way to gather with friends, connect and enjoy the delicate essence of the tea.

Traditional Gong Fu Cha Brewing Guide

Tea Type Water Temp °C/°F 125ml / 4 oz
of water
1st Infusion
Steep Time (seconds)
+ Infusions
Maximum No
Teapot Type
Black Tea 100°C/212°F 6g 1 heaping tsp 20 to 30 20 5 to 6 Terracotta or Cast Iron, 
second choice Porcelain
Flower Buds Tea 90°C/194°F 3g ¾ tsp 45 to 60 60 2 to 3 Glassware or Porcelain
Green Tea 80°C/176°F 5g 1 tsp 20 to 30 20 4 to 5 Glassware or Porcelain
Herbal Tea 90°C/194°F 6g 1 heaping tsp 20 to 30 60 2 to 3 Glassware or Porcelain
Iron Buddha Tea 100°C/212°F 5g 1 heaping tsp 20 to 30 20 7 to 8 Terracotta medium thickness, 2nd choice is Porcelain/Ceramic
Jasmine Tea 85°C/185°F 4g ¾ tsp 25 to 35 25 4 to 5 Glassware or Porcelain
Ku Ding One Leaf Tea 95°C/203°F 1 piece 1 piece 30 to 40 60 3 to 4 Porcelain
Luk On Tea 95°C/203°F 5g 1 tsp 30 to 40 30 7 to 8 Terracotta or Porcelain
Oolong Tea 95°C/203°F 5g 1 heaping tsp 15 to 20 15 8 to 9 Terracotta or Porcelain
Pu-erh Tea 95°C/203°F 6g 1 heaping tsp 25 to 35 25 8 to 9 Terracotta or Porcelain
Pu-erh Tea Cakes - Cooked 100°C/212°F 6g 0 35 to 40 30 10 to 12 Terracotta or Porcelain
Pu-erh Tea Cakes - Raw 95°C/203°F 6g 0 35 to 40 30 10 to 12 Terracotta or Porcelain
White Tea 90°C/194°F 6g 1 tsp 15 to 25 20 4 to 5 Glassware or Porcelain
Yellow Tea 90°C/194°F 5g 1 heaping tsp 15 to 25 20 3 to 4 Glassware or Porcelain