The Jargons Used By Chinese Tea Drinkers

You feel like a water drinker when fellow Chinese tea drinkers talk in Chinese tea jargon that you don’t understand. It’s not trying to be cool, you simply have to learn the language. Period. Here is a list of Chinese tea jargon and commonly mentioned words you will come across in a Chinese tea drinkers’ party.

Tea jargon differs with respect to dialect and geographical location.

The Jargon List

MandarinCantoneseEnglish Meanings
paopaunoun: amount of tea leaves enough for one brew verb: brew
yi pao chayat pau cha“a complete cycle of brewing”. a “pau” starts when new tea leaves is added, ends when all it’s flavor is being extracted and brewing stops, regardless of the number of infusions in between.
chong chayat chung cha“an infusion of tea”. an infusion into the brewing container.
Gong Fu ChaKung Fu chaA well-know brewing method. Full pictured illustration of Kung Fu Cha here.
Gai WanGuk Jung“Lidded Bowl”, “Bowl with Lid”. A 3-piece porcelain cup with lid, cup and saucer used for tea brewing. Large Gaiwan (6oz) and small Gaiwan (4oz) can be used for different tea brewing methods. here on how to handle a Gaiwan here on relevant brewing methods
Cha TangCha Tong“Tea Soup” by direct translation. Means the tea come out of a brewing process. A fancy name for “tea”.
Cha HaiCha Hoi“Tea Sea”. Fancy name for a tea tray.
KuFuPlain bitterness – one type of bitterness. Plain and flat. It’s the kind of “bitter” most of us understand.
SeGipRough bitterness – one type of bitterness. “Rough” as opposed to “smooth”. Acute bitterness at the middle to the back of the tongue accompanied by a “not-at-all-smooth” feeling when rubbing the tongue against the roof of the month. This is the worst you can get from a brewing process.
GanGumMinty bitterness – one type of bitterness. It’s a 2 dimensional taste. Slightly bitter first, then comes the slightly sweet taste (not exactly sweat but forgive me, I can’t tell exactly in English). When breathing, the tongue & month gets a cool feeling. If it’s strong enough, it keeps coming back for a long while and it’s called Hui Gan (see below).
Hui GanWui Gum“Recurring Gan”. See above for explanation of Gan.
Sheng JinSang Jun“Stimulates Saliva”. Saliva cells activated and working. To feel saliva flowing into the mouth is a wonderful feeling. Also, it is the best way to quench your thirst.