Saturday, May 15, 2010

Gung Fu

I like to expand my horizons... so while looking at some random blogs I discovered one from a tea aficionado who was very much into the Chinese art of Gungfu. Many people have heard of the Japanese tea ceremony and the many rituals involved, but not as many are familiar with the Chinese form even though it predates the Japanese version by centuries.

The Chinese version appeals to me because as an engineering type of person I like things to have a reason and function... with less emphasis being placed on just artistic appeal. The Chinese Gungfu is a series of steps which may seem overly ornate and elaborate to the casual observer, but what I like is that each step has a function.

You will see the host pour water on the tealeaves, then take that tea and pour it out over the cups for example. It seems wasteful to make tea then pour it out. But there is a reason for this... the hot water hits the leaves and starts a reaction that takes time... and the first flavors released are often bitter in taste. Pouring the tea out over the cups serves two functions, it preheats the cups for later, and it allows the aroma to fill the air which enhances the effect.

Later, when the next steeping of the tea is made, the leaves open up more and yield a more delicate flavor that the guests can enjoy. The cups are very small... and one may think that it would make more sense to serve a more generous serving... but by using a small cup, the tea is steeped several times, and each time the tea opens up more and it's flavor changes slightly. Each serving becomes a new experience and therefore more enjoyable.

At some point I may write a web page to explain the entire process... but for now I have found several very useful videos that cover this process and are very interesting if you want to experience something new.

The Basics
The Chinese make several different teas... as does the rest of our world... so they created a Giawan from a different type of clay that can be cleaned and not hold the deeper aromas of some teas. It too has a ceremony or series of steps to allow the users to really enjoy the full flavor and aroma of the teas.

Using a Giawan
So now I have learned something unique, interesting, and cultural that I can share with my friends.

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