Gong Fu Style and Young Hyson Imperial Organic Green Tea

Small Chinese Tea CupsToday marks my first attempt at gong fu (Chinese tea ceremony). I bought a cheap gong fu travel set on Amazon.com that included a gaiwan (teapot), a pitcher, a strainer and five tea cups — all in the tiniest form you could possibly imagine. No tray or pets come with this set.

I celebrated the inaugural occasion with Young Hyson Imperial Organic, a Chinese green tea from Upton Tea Imports. I also ordered a pu-erh sample from Crimson Lotus Tea but figured that to be too ambitious and involved for a first-time gong fu-er (and pu-erh-er).

First Brew

I measured 2.25 grams of tea leaves, put them in the gaiwan, brought the boiled water down to 180 degrees by waiting 4 minutes, and steeped for 3 minutes. I poured the brew into the pitcher and then into the individual cups.

It smelled like green tea but tasted way too bitter. ‘Twas then I realized I didn’t measure the leaves properly. The gaiwan capacity is only 3.5 oz, less than half a cup, so instead of 2.25 grams (which is intended for an 8 oz cup) I decided to use 1 gram for the second steep.

Second Brew

Much better. The tea was bright yellow in color. I couldn’t get a good sense of the aroma. Maybe my nose wasn’t functioning well at the time, but all I was able to detect was grassy with slightly sweet notes.

The mouth feel was a different story. I would describe the sensation as bold yet smooth and buttery with a delightful amount of lingering, drying tannin sensation.

Third Brew

I decided to measure a full cup’s worth of leaves and use my tea maker. The result was more greenish on the color spectrum with a similar aroma and that same wonderful mouth bliss as the previous attempt. Plus, it was more satisfying to sip from a regular-size tea cup. Cheers to Young Hyson Imperial Organic Green Tea!

Strange Brew – Gong Fu Conclusion

I failed at gong fu. Perhaps my mistake was with the tea set purchased. The pitcher pours poorly, and the cups seem too small. Next time I might brew and sip directly from the gaiwan, or brew in the gaiwan and use pitcher as a cup.

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Author: Leo Kapusta

Of all the useless degrees he holds, Leo is most proud of his Bachelor of Science in Radio-Television-Film (Mass Communication Sequence) from the University of Texas at Austin.

1 thought on “Gong Fu Style and Young Hyson Imperial Organic Green Tea”

  1. Congrats on giving gongfu a try! It sounds like your infusion times were much too long, which would result in a bitter taste like you described. The whole idea behind gongfu is to make short, concentrated brews. Next time I would recommend trying 5g for only about 30 seconds.

    Travel set pitchers are notoriously bad pourers. I have a very similar set and I’ll usually just pour right into the cups for that reason. As for the cups, they’re supposed to be very small. It forces us to really slow down and enjoy every single sip rather just gulping the tea down. They can definitely take some getting used to, though 🙂
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