The Chinese tea making process is a complicated one. It is called Gong Fu Cha (Tea with Great Skill). The tradition method involves a variety of teaware from teapots and tea cups and a skilled hand to prepare the tea. The foremost important item on the list would be a Yixing teapot. These unglazed teapots made with clay are a part of the Chinese tea tradition. These teapots render the tea more flavourful and after each use the teapot too takes on the flavour of the tea that is stepped in it. It is for this reason, Yixing teapots are used for individual teas and two different teas are never steeped in the same pot.
Tea cups are next on the list of teaware used in Gong Fu Cha. These Chinese tea cups are low, shallow, and wide. They are like a tiny bowl large enough for not more than a sip or two. Chinese tea connoisseurs emphasise on quality over quantity, where one's concentration is on savouring every drop of tea in small amounts. Different shapes are used for different types of tea and their particular shape also enables you to pick up a hot cup without burning your fingers.
A tea tray collects or re-directs the water that gets splashed about when making Gong Fu Cha. Chinese tea trays have built in water reservoirs or hoses to an external reservoir and come in beautiful traditional and modern designs. You can also use a fine wire mesh frame over a wide, shallow bowl.
Gai Wan is a traditional porcelain cup with a lid that is used for making, serving, and drinking tea. They are an alternative to the Yixing pots. These pots do not change the flavour of the tea as they have a hard inner surface. This type of a teapot is used mainly for evaluating and comparing the teas. Glass teapots are also sometimes used for this purpose.
While tea experts used their knowledge to judge the water temperature for each different tea, most people these days use a digital kettle or thermometer to ensure that the water is not too hot or too cold for preparing the tea. Pitchers are also used to store the prepared tea. This ensures that the tea is not over steeped, and serving the tea also becomes simpler.
Chinese Tea Scoop is the traditional tool used for measuring out tea leaves and for conveniently placing them in a teapot or gai wan (1 scoop = 1 Western tablespoon). Scoops are made from wood, metal and bone and some can be valuable antiques.
A Chinese tea strainer uses a very fine mesh and is specially shaped to fit Chinese tea pots and pitchers. They are inexpensive and work very well to keep your tea clear and free of particles.
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