Baan Lao Fine Thai Cuisine is proud to offer our guests gongfu-style tea service to facilitate the utmost appreciation of the exquisite teas we offer.
Gongfu cha, whose literal translation is “tea made with skill”, is a classic style of tea preparation indigenous to southeastern China, particularly the Chaozhou area of Guangdong. Sometimes referred to as a tea ‘ceremony’, Chaozhou-style gongfu tea preparation is more a ritual than a ceremony, and focuses predominantly on the appreciation of tea for its own sake. Unlike more formal styles such as the Japanese tea ceremony, gongfu cha is a flexible style that lends itself more readily to a variety of tea types, styles, and situations, while still enabling exemplary preparation of quality loose-leaf tea.
When preparing tea gongfu-style, the temperature of the water to be used is very important. ‘Lighter’ teas that undergo a low degree of processing, such as green teas, demand a lower water temperature so as to not sear the leaves and allow the complex and delicate flavours to flourish. Teas that are processed more fully, such as oolong, black, and pu’er teas, require a higher water temperature to extract the full breadth of flavour from the leaves.
In contrast to Western styles of tea preparation, in which relatively large vessels are used to steep small amounts of tea for longer periods, the gongfu style uses a smaller vessel – typically either a clay teapot or a lidded porcelain cup known as a gaiwan – to steep relatively large amounts of tea in numerous short infusions.
First, the various implements to be used for gongfu preparation are rinsed meticulously with hot water. Tea is then measured out in an amount appropriate for the vessel used, and water of a suitable temperature is added. The first infusion is always used to rinse the tea leaves and is immediately discarded. The next infusion – the first to be consumed – is steeped quickly and then transferred into a gong dao bei, more commonly known as a ‘fair cup’, to ensure each tea drinker receives an infusion of equal strength. Finally, the tea is poured from the fair cup into a small tasting cup from which the tea is sipped.
Because different components of a tea leaf infuse at different rates, the quick infusions characteristic of gongfu-style tea allow the tea drinker to observe the emergence of varying flavour profiles over the course of a full steeping cycle – nuances that may sometimes be lost in traditional Western-style tea preparation, but that are fully captured in the gongfu style.
In addition to our extensive tea menu, Baan Lao also offers a tea pairing option with our dinner experiences.