Chinese Brewing Methods: How People Are Making Their Teas In China

Brewing methods of Chinese tea are closely related to everyday life. On this huge piece of land called China, 1.3 billion people use more than a couple of brewing methods to get their teas done. It's not like looking into a reference book and you can find them all because there are methods so casual that books don't care to tell.

Here, we shares a few methods that are mostly practised in South China. You can choose your brewing method from the list base on what tea ware you have, the class of Chinese tea you want to brew, degree of convenience, occasion, etc.

The "Serious" Methods

These are the brewing methods that all tea books and tea sites have to mention. They are cool ways of doing tea. If you don't mind the trouble of setting up a few things and you want more flavor from your tea, pick one from below.

Kung Fu Tea (small pot)

  • Tea wear: Small Yixing Teapot <= 6oz, teacups
  • Tea class: Best for Oolong tea, NOT for green tea
  • Convenience: Low (very inconvenient in fact)
  • Occasion: Serious tea drinking, want to get the best flavor out of your Oolong, tea friend meeting, when you have time to kill

Kung Fu Tea (big pot)

  • Tea wear: Yixing teapot > 6oz, teacups
  • Tea class: Best for Oolong tea, NOT for green tea
  • Convenience: Medium
  • Occasion: When you are working but still want to drink a nice cup of Oolong. I like to make a big mug of Oolong in a couple of brews and drink it throughout the day in office.

Gaiwan (small)

  • Tea wear: Porcelain GaiWan <= 4oz, teacups
  • Tea class: All, ok for Oolong tea
  • Convenience: Medium
  • Occasion: Casual tea friend meetings, or non tea friend meetings.

The Casual Methods

These are done purely for the sake of making Chinese tea to drink. Period. No one would demonstrate these in front of you and make a fuss about them - just like you wouldn't show a friend how to turn on a TV and expect a round of applause.

Large Gaiwan (or Porcelain Teacup)

  • Tea wear: Gaiwan > 4oz
  • Tea class: Green tea, all other teas are ok
  • Convenience: High
  • Occasion: In upscale restaurants, friend meetings, wedding ceremonies (served by younger generation to older to show respect)

Glass (or Porcelain Mug)

  • Tea wear: Water glass, it's ok if it's got Winnie the Pooh printed on it. I sometimes use a Bodum coffee press for convenience.
  • Tea class: Best for green tea and flower tea, all other teas are ok
  • Convenience: Super high
  • Occasion: When you have only 3 minutes

Porcelain Teapot

  • Tea wear: Porcelain teapot, teacups
  • Tea class: All, usually for lower grade teas
  • Convenience: High
  • Occasion: Dim-Summing in Chinese restaurants. You simply infuse whenever you like and pour whenever you like. You don't care if the tea gets bitter because you are too busy eating Dim Sum. Tea is simply not the prime concern here. Also in a casual meeting where there are too little time but too many friends.

Kettle

  • Tea wear: Kettle, small or large bowls
  • Tea class: Compressed tea
  • Convenience: Super high
  • Occasion: Everyday serving for working class and ethnic groups in South Western Chinese (e.g. Tibetans)