In China there are formal techniques, which lay the foundation for Gongfu ceremony. Lavish competitions are held where hundreds of experts pour tea with impeccable detail. These techniques are the perfect template but it is the intention and energy you offer into the tea that makes it taste incredible.
Be radical with your ceremony, follow your intuition, it is an art form – infuse it with love.
Here is a version of how I offer Gongfu Ceremony to friends – it is also the same way I make it for myself.
Prepare the space
The joy is that it can be anywhere. Prepare the space by taking a moment to clear your mind and if you wish create an intention for the ceremony. It can be outside by the ocean or in a forest, at home in your living room or tea corner – anywhere.
Basics: Gaiwan or Yinxi teapot, cups, kettle, plate or tray (for preparing the tea), bowl for leaves, bowl for pouring excess water. Formal: Tea tray, Gaiwan or Yinxi teapot, filter, utensils, cups, sniffing cups, kettle and bowl for leaves.
Warm the teapot and cups
Boil filtered or spring water. Fill the teapot with the freshly boiled water and then pour it into the cups.
Admire your tea, show your guests and tell them about the tea they will be drinking. Share who grew the tea and where they grew it, tell the legend behind the tea if you know it. Next take the desired amount of tea and scoop it into your teapot. Pour the water out of the cups using tea tongs or your fingers. Now fill your pot with water letting it overflow a small amount as a sign of abundance and gratitude.
Immediately pour the tea into the cups, or through the filter into your pitcher and then into the cups. Allow the cups to overflow in generosity to your guests and yourself.
Once again fill your pot with the appropriate temperature of water. Allow the tea to steep to the desired time. While the tea is steeping pour out the rinse tea in the cups.
Once the tea has steeped pour the tea into the cups or through your filter into the pitcher and then into the cups. Filling them with all your wishes and hopes for the person you are preparing tea for.
Offer the tea to your guest by placing the cup in front of them be it on a tea coaster, a piece of fabric or just on the table. In:joy.
Fill the teapot with water again, this time allowing the tea to steep a few seconds more. Prepare with care and again offer tea to your guests. This process can be repeated 4-5 times depending on your tea. After you have finished all infusions, use the tongs to empty the leaves out of the teapot into the bowl. Repeat.
Once you feel you have had enough tea, maybe you have tried 2 or 3 teas in this one ceremony and have been relishing in divine company for hours! Take a moment to appreciate the time spent with your guest or even just with yourself. Empty your teapot one last time into the bowl, rinse with hot water and leave to dry.