Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Gongfu Cha brewing: lesson 3, Preheating

The tools are all set and the ingedients are ready. It's now time to start the gongfu cha with a very important first step: preheating your equipment. See this video.

First, you pour hot water in the gaibei, then the pitcher and the cup. This water than ends up in the little waste bowl. The preheating time will depend upon the thickness of the porcelain. The video shows a quick way to heat the lid of the gaiwan.

Preheating is an essential step of gongfu cha. The higher the temperature in the gaibei, the more flavors the tea leaves release. A tea made without preheating of the vessel will taste closed, muted.

During my first tea lessons with Teaparker, the most common mistake we students used to make was an incomplete or insufficient pereheating. It's so important that you may sometimes want to warm your pitcher and cup again between two distant brewings.

This step is specific to gongfu cha and also applies if you're using a small of big teapot.

4 comments:

Will said...

I have a (possibly stupid) question about this.... when pre-heating after the first infusion, do you remove the leaves from the teapot, or do you just do a very quick infusion (similar to rinsing off the leaves) and pour off the tea-water into the pitcher / cups / whatever else you're warming up?

Stephane said...

Will,
Pre-heating is mostly relevant for the first brew, when your equipment is cold. After that, you usually perform each brew within a few minutes between each brew. This means the leaves and equipment remain warm (they are preheated for the next brew). This will be especially the case if you drink from a small teapot.

In case you take a rest in the middle of your gongfu cha and let the pot and leaves cool down, then you have to take this into account. But you don't take the leaves out. What you can do is:
- pre-heat the pitcher and cups again
- Bring the water to a complete boil again,
- Change the way you pour the water to maximize the heat.

A quick infusion may be wasting tea. I'd rather try a longer one to make up for the lower temperature and still achieve a drinkable cup.

Laura said...

The video link on this is broken. Thank you for your splendid blog. I am really enjoying this.

April said...

Yes, I, too would like to see the video. Wonderful blog.