The Origins of the Gong Fu Tea Ceremony

In pinyin, the term “Kung Fu” is written: gōngfu. The term really has nothing to do with martial arts, but refers to the possession of great skill. So in the world of tea, when we refer to the gong fu tea cermony, we are referring to a skillful way to prepare tea. When performing the gongfu tea ceremony there is no formal set of rules, procedures, or utensils — but there are some fundamental ideas that have grown into the tradition we now call the Gong Fu Tea Ceremony.

The first treatise on tea surfaced during the 8th century – it was Lu Yu’s “Classic of Tea,” the work described the manufacturing, brewing, and drinking of tea to great detail. He set forth these 8 guidelines for what man must do with tea:

  1. He must manufacture it
  2. He must develop a sense of selectivity and discrimination about it
  3. He must provide proper implements
  4. He must prepare the right kind of fire
  5. He must select a suitable water
  6. He must roast the tea to a turn
  7. He must grind it well
  8. He must brew it to its ultimate perfection
  9. He must finally, drink it

Over the years the gongfu tea ceremony has become the essence of tea culture across China and Taiwan, each tea master skillfully preparing the tea in his/her own way. There is no right or wrong when it comes to your tea ceremony as long as you are slowing down, and enjoying the tea as it should be enjoyed. Join us these next few weeks as I break down the gongfu tea ceremony in its many forms.