Where is Kung – Fu tea from
We all know Kung-Fu is a martial art and Kung-Fu penda is a movie. What is Kung-fu tea then?
The concept of Kung-Fu in Chinese means ‘in depth’ or ‘highly skilful’. It refers to skills acquired through extensive practice, often combined with knowledge cumulated over long period of time and/or passed down by many previous generations.
Kung-Fu tea is not an exception. Tea originated from China and has been consumed for over 2000 years. Every single aspect of its production and consumption has been refined, including the tea accessories used.
Sometime during the long history of tea consumption in China, Kung-Fu tea started in certain areas of the Fu-Jian and Guang-Dong province, especially around ChouZhou. It is believed it was first used for Oolong tea tasting, especially Tie Guan Yin. The tea lovers noticed that the tea brewing was such dynamic process that the best way to explore it was to segregate the various stages.
We all know by now that the premium loose leaf teas can be used repeatedly for several times. The tea drinkers at the time discovered that although produced from the same lot of the tea leaves, the various infusions each had a nature of its own, in its colour, aroma, texture, taste and after taste. Instead of using a big pot to brew a large quantity of tea, they started using small teapots and tea cups:
- A small teapot allows to brew a small amount of tea at a time
- Due to the limited amount of tea produced from each teapot, it required frequent top up of hot water to produce the next infusion to top up the cups
- It was subsequently discovered that this freshly brewed and served tea was by far superior to the tea brewed in a large pot, sat and soaked
- The small tea cups of tea allowed the tea brew from each infusions to be tested separately
The Kung-Fu tea set was born to facilitate this process. The essential elements of a Kung-Fu tea set include: a small teapot, several small tea cups (depending on how many tea drinkers are at presence) and a tea tray. The tea tray offers a platform for the tea brewing and catches any residual water during the tea preparation for later dispose. The ideas of Kung-Fu tea sets and Kung-Fu tea were well accepted and quickly spread in places like tea houses, where groups of people gathered to socialise.
Kung-Fu tea is therefore a unique method of tea brewing
Kung-Fu tea is therefore a unique method of tea brewing, serving and tasting. The concept has since been adopted and applied to all tea varieties. A Kung-Fu tea culture has gradually developed: widely used in tea ceremonies; gone into family homes; become an essential part of tea testing before purchase in China; and even used in some office environments.
As a matter of fact, many Chinese premium tea accessory products such as YiXing ZiSha teapots are only made in small Kung-Fu tea sizes now.
A few hints and clarifications:
- Kung-Fu tea could be used in tea ceremony, but not necessary as such. It is in fact used way more often in a family environment in China. I often describe it as there is a kung-fu tea set in every family in China, when the dinner is finished and off the table, the tea set is on and the evening tea starts.
- Kung-Fu tea is not complicated, it is just a different way of brewing and serving tea. All it requires is a tea set, a premium tea of choice and a pot of hot water. Instead of drinking tea from a big cup/mug, it is served as many mall cups. (It appears to be tedious, but it is not. I enjoy putting on a pot of tea after dinner, I brew the tea and serve while my family members enjoy the tea and we talk. These are often the quality times we spend together.)
- Kung-Fu tea brings the best flavour and quality out of a premium tea. It however does not make difference to a low quality one, a low quality tea is always a low quality tea.
A well known ancient wisdom:
Water – natural mineral water is supreme.
Fire – open charcoal fire is ideal.
Tea accessories – small ones are the best.