Gongfu Cha – Chinese Tea Ceremony
Gongfu Cha. This last weekend was the Asian Cultural Festival at Selby Gardens. The event was packed with uniquely Asian activities; bonsai displays, martial arts performers, taiko drummers, and other dancers. For instance, on Saturday, the Local Tea Company-sponsored 3 tea ceremonies – Chinese, Japanese, and Korean. I enjoyed all three and participated in the Korean Tea Ceremony. Here are the details, along with a few pictures.
Kim Pham presents all three ceremonies in traditional attire. She uses proper tea accessories and authentic teas. She owns Kaleisia Tea Lounge in Tampa. Kim is fantastic, very knowledgeable, and thrilled to share the history and details with all that attended. Above all, Kim is a true student of tea ceremonies.
I will break the details into 3 posts.
Gongfu Cha, the Chinese ceremony, was first at 11 am. This style of the ceremony is all about the tea, what it tastes like and smells like. After that, the audience asked questions, and Kim talked all the way through, describing the ceremony as “tea with friends.” Each step is meant to be a sensory exploration and appreciation. Similarly, a tiny unglazed clay teapot, Yixing, is filled a third full of tea for multiple, quick infusions. The pot and small drinking cups get rinsed with boiling water first. Then the tea is rinsed or flushed.
The first infusion is only 30 seconds.
In other words, Kim explains the tea comes from a wild tea plant in the Yunnan Province of China. She buys directly from farmers. She calls it ‘No Name’ tea because the family drinks this tea, and it has no name. Above all, this very special tea is sweet and delicious. And Kim wears a traditional Chinese special occasion dress of silk, but back to the Gongfu Cha.
In other words, the tea is poured in a continual motion over each cup. All are filled together and taste the same. There are 2 cups. The larger is called the “snifter.” This is tipped upside down, releasing tea into the small drinking cups, about 2 sips worth. Then the snifter is smelled to appreciate the aroma. Kim moves everything using bamboo chopsticks. Typically up to five infusions are made from the same leaves, adding 10 seconds of steep each time.
Next up, the Japanese Tea Ceremony.
The Tea Lady