The Origins of the Gong Fu Tea Ceremony

by Tony Gebely 730 views4

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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.

Comments (4)

  1. I surf your website after visiting Tea Expo. Just wanna sharing Gong-fu Tea ceremony in China. Gong-fu Tea ceremony which was popular in Song Dynasty, was not enlightened from Lu Yu (Tong Dynasty). Actually, Japanese tea ceremony was enlightened from Lu Yu as the buddhism as Zen has had an impact on the art and culture of Japan.
    Gong-fu tea ceremony is popular in Teochew (Guangdong) where planted good tea in highlands. The pronounce of “tea” was “tê”, not “cha”. “tê” is Teochew’s dialect and also ancient Chinese pronounce in Song Dynasty. Gong-fu tea ceremony just using Oolong (Tieguanyin) only, and only landlords had plenty time to enjoy Gong-fu tea. Nowadays, the instruction and utensils of pouring Gong-fu tea is well-developed. Most of Chinese mention “Gong-fu tea”, just only refer to “Teochew Gong-fu tea”, not other places in the mainland china or Taiwan.

  2. Thanks for that entry, Tony. I know that formally Kung fu wushu is the martial art we often think of, wushu literally meaning “martial art.” Guess that makes kung fu wushu mean “possessing great martial art skill,” which I never knew. Thanks! Excited to see what you bring forward these next few weeks. I would love to practice gong fu. :)

  3. ultimate perfection! mmm – nice site tony!

  4. Great post Tony.
    It’s a good way to enjoy time with friends.
    What kind of water do you use Tony? people said water is the mother of tea, but for now there are hard to find good water in city.

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