Get to know tea

The Joy of Exploring New Tea

Pouring Tea From a Nixing Clay tea pot into a cha hai, at Infuse Artisan Tea Bar in Coleraine Northern Ireland

Every time we are exploring new tea for the Tea Bar we take the time to do it properly by brewing it in the Gong Fu Cha style, which means brewing tea with skill, or the art of brewing tea well.

Gong Fu Cha

This is a method which involves using a small vessel with a high leaf to low water ratio and a short brew time. By using a lot of tea leaves and only a little water, flavour is extracted very quickly, therefore a short brew time is required. Whilst it sounds complicated, it’s really not, this method of brewing truly excels. Not only does it allow us to brew tea quickly, it also takes us on a journey, to explore how the tea evolves and changes with each re-brew.

tea pot & cha hai

The Gong Fu Cha style of brewing allows for a unique appreciation of the tea, whilst also creating a moment to breathe and reconnect.

Measuring out the tea

leaves of qi lan
(Qi Lan Tea Leaves)

When exploring a tea for the first time, the first step is to measure out the exact amount of loose tea leaves, whilst doing this we observe and smell the leaf. This helps evoke our senses and connect to the moment, to appreciate the shape, colour and processing of the tea, as well as the aroma.

Qi Lan ta leaves in Nixing tea pot

Smelling the wet leaves

Once the water is at the correct temperature we heat the brewing vessel and then add the leaves. At this point we smell the now warm and damp leaves to discover how their aroma has changed and developed from the dry material, an important part of staying connected to the tea.

Rinsing the tea

The next stage is to rinse the tea, not only does this help awaken the tea leaves, but it helps us attain an even brewing by ensuring the leaves begin to unfurl and a larger surface area is swathed by the water. The rinse is very brief, no more than a few seconds, because it is discarded, therefore we don’t want to give the tea too much time to brew.

Cha Hai

Cha Hai or Fairness Cup

When getting ready to serve the tea, we pour it from the tea pot into the Cha Hai, a little jug also known as a Fairness Cup. By using a Cha Hai this ensures that as we serve the tea everyone will get  the same strength of tea, rather than the person at the start and end of the pour tasting something very different. This is the fair way of serving tea, hence the name Fairness Cup. The tea is then decanted into cups.

Vessel type and pour time an important factor to consider

Something to keep in mind when brewing tea, is the type of vessel being used. One of the reasons this is important is demonstrated with our Nixing clay tea pots. Some vessels will have a short pour time, but with these tea pots we tend to start with a 5 second steep before pouring , as it has a 10 second pour. So we take this into consideration. The overall brew time, of the first steep, equates to 15 seconds, whilst for the second brew we decrease the steep time by 5 seconds. In our experience a stronger brew is created during the second infusion because the tea leaves have had a chance to warm up and release more of their essence, so we account for this with a shorter brew time. By the third brew, we are back up to the original steep time and each subsequent re-brew we will add 5 – 10 seconds, depending on the tea.

Sniffer cups

cha hai and sniffer cups

Furthermore, when trying a new tea for the first time we use sniffer cups, to smell the aroma before drinking. The little cups capture the scent of the tea perfectly. This allows us to truly experience the tea as it gives us clues and teases us with how the tea might taste before we even take a sip, helping to build the suspense.

Discover tea tasting beyond the surface

From here, we take the tea on a journey, it’s about exploring the taste, discovering which parts of the tongue the tea affects, what the mouth feel is like and what flavours we detect. We’ll discover how the tea changes and develops with each re-brew and if we have the time, see how many brews we can get out of the leaves.

Magical process

To us there is something truly magical about taking the time out to explore a new tea for the first time, what’s more we love sharing this experience with our customers.

Discover it for yourself

If you fancy to joining us to explore tea in this way then join us for our next Tea Tasting Evening. Check out our Events page for more info.