This blog post focuses on the method of brewing tea called gongfu cha, and the art of the Cha Xi. We'll be sharing a longer blog post on cha xi soon. This subtle art adds immensely to your tea practice. Gongfu can be translated as "skilled discipline," and this method of preparation lends itself to the craft and art of the "perfect cup of tea." Each element has its practical, ritual and aesthetic components.
The runner is the foundation "earth" element of your Cha Xi. Our elegant bamboo mat compliments tea ceremony with it's rich, earthen color. The dark color absorbs dark teas so it won't become ragged with use. The runner sets the tone for the rest of the cha xi.
The next layer of your Cha Xi includes: the cups, the tea towel and lastly, the teapot. Many people don't realize that the porcelain cups (or whatever medium) significantly influence the flavor and body of the tea. We reserve these antique cups for special tea ceremonies.
The teapot is the most important element of the Cha Xi. If you don't already have a Zisha teapot, we highly suggest them. We use Zisha clay teapots exclusively when brewing Gongfu.
We have some very special Gongfu Zisha pots to share. These handmade teapots are superior to all other types for brewing tea. The special zisha clay (containing iron, quartz and mica, and found only in Yixing) absorbs the delicate flavors of the tea and the teapot becomes seasoned with use. These teapots were made both by the master and by an apprentice of Master Zhou from Wuxing Shan Fang studio in Yixing. The clay is good quality aged Zini clay. The pots are fully handmade.
We suggest using only one class of tea for each of your zisha pots as they will absorb oils from the teas, which will then influence future brews. By mixing different teas in the pot, the flavors become "confused." The difference between tea brewed in Zisha and other types of clay is remarkable.
The final elements to consider for your Cha Xi are fire and water. Many people don't realize that a nice kettle can soften water while a metal kettle has a deleterious effect on water, which the exceptional of very high quality silver ginbin kettles. The kettle, the brazier and the waste-water bowl are all important elements. We like to have long tea sessions, so a brazier or an infrared burner is an essential element in our tea practice. Browse our offerings here.
We also suggest putting trivets underneath your hot kettle and teapots to protect your table from damage. Browse our offerings here.
This doesn't conclude a Cha Xi, you will of course want flowers, tea scoops, picks, incense and censers, but the basics have been covered! As mentioned, we'll share a longer blog about the art of cha xi soon as well as guidance in brewing gong fu cha.