gongfu tea with tea leaves

How to Brew Gongfu Tea: A Comprehensive Guide

Interested in learning about gongfu cha, the traditional Chinese way of brewing tea?

Gongfu style tea brewing is a complex and nuanced process that can take years to master. Every tea drinker should give the gongfu brewing method a try! With our easy-to-follow guide, you’ll be able to make some of the best tea you’ve ever tasted in no time.

Our guide will teach you all about gongfu tea, special tools needed to brew gongfu tea, detailed instructions on how to brew gongfu tea, as well as frequently asked questions about the process.

Read on to learn more about gongfu tea brewing!

What is Gongfu tea?

Gongfu tea is a type of Chinese tea that is made using a special brewing method.

This method involves using a small teapot or gaiwan, and a relatively high ratio of tea leaves to water. The tea leaves are usually tightly rolled, and the water is heated to a specific temperature.

The brewing process is typically repeated multiple times, with the number of infusions depending on the type of tea being brewed. Gongfu tea is often considered to be a more efficient way of brewing tea, as it allows for more flavor to be extracted from the leaves.

Most often, black tea and puer tea is brewed using the gongfu method, but it can be modified for oolong tea, green tea, white tea, or even herbal tea.

In addition, gongfu tea ceremonies are often seen as an opportunity to relax and bond with others. A gongfu tea ceremony is a time to slow down and enjoy the experience. This Chinese tea ceremony is one everyone should try.

Tools needed to prepare gongfu tea

In order to prepare gongfu tea, you will need a few special tools.

  • Gaiwan – this is a type of teacup that has a lid and a saucer. It is typically used for gongfu tea brewing, as it allows the tea leaves to be steeped multiple times.
  • Tea pot (brewing vessel) – this is another option for gongfu tea brewing. Teapots come in a variety of sizes, so you can choose one that is best suited for the number of people you are serving. Not sure what tea pot to select? Read our guide here!
  • Gong Dao Bei (tea pitcher) – this pitcher is frequently used so that the tea does not over brew. Once the tea has brewed to the desired strength, pour the tea into this pitcher, and then serve from the gong dao bei. This is also sometimes called a “fairness cup” as this helps ensure even distribution of the tea.
  • Tea tray – this is used to catch any water that drips from the gaiwan or teapot. It also helps to keep your brewing area clean.
  • Tea cups – these are small cups that are used to serve gongfu tea. The ideal size for a gongfu tea cup is 50 mL, but some prefer a larger cup.
  • Tea towel – this is used to wipe any water that drips from the gaiwan or teapot.

Of course, you can purchase a gongfu tea set, so you have everything you need at once.

In addition to these tools, you’ll need to make sure that you have high-quality tea. Because the tea leaves are used over and over, you’ll want to select good tea.

Here are a few quality tea options:

Now you’re ready to start brewing gong fu tea!

How to prepare gongfu tea

There are four main steps in gongfu tea preparation: heating the water, preparing the tea leaves, brewing the tea, and pouring.

Heating the water

The first step is to heat the water to the appropriate temperature. This will vary depending on the type of tea you are brewing. For example, green teas are usually brewed at lower temperatures, around 80-85 degrees Celsius, while black teas are brewed at higher temperatures, around 95-100 degrees Celsius.

If you don’t have a thermometer, you can bring the water to a boil and then let it sit for 30 seconds to cool slightly before use.

Looking for the perfect whistling tea kettle? Check out our guide and reviews.

Preparing the tea leaves

Once you have boiling water ready, it’s time to prepare the tea leaves. The amount of tea you use will depend on the size of your teapot or gaiwan, but a general rule of thumb is to use about two grams of leaves for every 100 milliliters of water.

If you’re using tea leaves, you can place them directly into the pot. If you’re using tea bags or pre-packaged tea, you can open them and empty the contents into the pot.

Brewing the tea

Now it’s time to actually brew the tea! To do this, simply pour hot water over the tea leaves and let them steep for the recommended amount of time.

The steeping time will vary depending on the type of tea you are brewing, but a general rule of thumb is to start with a shorter steeping time and then increase it as needed.

For example, green teas are usually steeped for one to two minutes, while black teas are typically steeped for three to five minutes.


Once the tea has finished steeping, it’s time to pour the brewed tea. When pouring gongfu tea, it’s important to use a slow and steady stream in order to avoid disturbing the leaves.

Start by pouring a small amount of tea into each cup, and then top off each cup with more tea until all of the liquid has been transferred from the pot.

If you find that the tea is too strong or too weak, you can adjust the ratio of leaves to water that you use next time.

Frequently asked questions about gongfu tea

We’ve shared a lot of information, but you may still have questions! No problem, we are here to help answer them all for you.

Can I use soap to wash a gaiwan?

It depends on the material used to make it! If it is made of a non-porous substance like ceramic or porcelain, you can use soap to wash it. If it is a porous substance such as clay, simply rinse the gaiwan with water and use a washing brush for any stubborn dried on tea leaves.

It is not recommended that you use soap on porous substances, because they can potentially absorb the taste of soap – yuck! You don’t want your afternoon tea ruined by tasting soapy hot tea.

What is the best size of tea cup for gongfu tea?

The size of the cup can change the flavor of the tea, so many gongfu tea lovers will carefully choose the size of the cup. Since this gongfu ceremony is intended to be a time of connection, the typical cup size is 50 mL.

Do I have to purchase special tools to brew gongfu tea?

Simplicity is a pivotal part of the gongfu tea ceremony, and you don’t have to have fancy tools in order to enjoy the tea. You can purchase a simple gongfu tea set that only has the gaiwan and a tea cup, and purchase more items if you like. You don’t have to have many fancy tea accessories: start with simplicity, and purchase more teaware if you need it.

Gongfu tea is a unique and special tea making experience. By following our guide, you will be able to brew the perfect cup of gongfu tea that will tantalize your taste buds. Happy brewing!