At first, you need some basic tea tools like below: (along with tea you will enjoy)
for heating water. Except green tea or black tea, try to boil the water each time before steeping / infusing tea.
or called "Gai Wan", for brewing / steeping / infusing tea.
Also you can use Yixing teapot or other porcelain teapot etc.
for drinking tea. One cup for one person.
Gong Dao Bei:
or called "Gongdaobei" or "Pitcher", for holding tea liquid after brewed from Gaiwan, then share that to each tea cup.
or called "Tea Filter", for filtering tea when pour tea liquid from Gaiwan to Pitcher. It will keep the bits.
Some people even tea masters may think it is unnecessary. But I recommend it since it also helps for lowering the temperature of tea liquid.
Too hot tea water is not good for keeping your mouth and tongue sensitive to tea tastes and bad for health.
or called "Tea Awl" / "Tea Knife" according to style, for prying tight tea cake/brick/tuo generally seen in Puerh tea, dark tea or some oolong tea.
Other alternative tools you have in hand are good too. If you are new to Gongfu tea, it is better to be simple on your tools at first.
Even though, you will find you already have many unnecessary tea wares in future along with your extending tea drinking experience.
To new comers of tea, I don't want to talk more on details, but please let me remind you of that, tapping water is okay but except hard water.
Bottle water (including mineral water) sold in market or filtered water is better. Basically the soft water doesn't badly affect the fragrances and tastes of tea or at least not like hard water does.
Here in Guangzhou city, the tapping water is hard and poor on quality. So I use RO filtered water and find it is not worse than bottle water.
If you are ready, then move on to the next step.
Put some tea leaves/ chunks into your Gaiwan.
The amount of tea leaves is according to your preference, number of tea drinkers and volume of Gaiwan / Yixing teapot / other teapots. I may put only 3 grams or around that if the drinker is only me and the tea price is too expensive. Or 7 to 8 grams on daily drinking tea.
For more than one drinker, I recommend 7 to 8 grams. More tea leaves than that amount may easily make the tea liquid too thick, but less may not helpful for judging a tea.
Anyway, you will find your own decent amount along with practicing.
Pour boiling water onto tea leaves / chunks for rinsing tea.
This is the 1st time you pour boiling water onto tea with a special step name "Rinsing Tea".
Only to green tea or black tea, 85-92 Celsius Degrees is good. To other kinds of tea, like puerh tea, dark tea, oolong tea and white tea, boiling water is recommended.
Different pouring methods also affect the taste of tea, like pouring water from a certain point along the wall, or circling the wall, or from a higher/lower position or others. We will talk these detailed things one by one in other posts.
(edit: Pour water from a certain point along with wall of Gaiwan slowly with no rush (Yixing teapot is exceptional) and don’t make the tea leaves rolling like dancing under your water is recommended. )
The water amount is better to cover all tea leaves/chunks.
Put the lid on the Gaiwan as below shows.
The lid seems not in right position and odd. The reason is for pouring tea liquid out easily.
Surely you can put the lid in right position and adjust it again before pouring water out. No mind that.
Usually it is better to pour the water out soon after pouring into and not leave the tea in hot water for a long time. The purpose now is for rinsing tea though your tea will lose some essences and loose leaf tea will lose that faster.
On puerh ripe tea or dark tea, or some aged tea like made before 2005 year or around that, you may need to repeat this rinsing steep once or twice.
Each steep, the tea will lose some essences. So if possible, please pour the hot water out soon. After exercising, you will do these things gently and without 1 sec stop.
Pouring the tea water from Gaiwan.
You can handle the Gaiwan like below. Just put the fingers on the edge, then the heat can't easily hurt you. At first time, you may need some practices. Take it easy.
Or you can put the finger on lid like these ways below.
Some people may handle it in this way below.
Whatever the method you use, it is better to be careful . If you have tea drinkers to serve tea, I think gentle manner is as important as tea. We all want to enjoy tea in a relaxing mood or wish it help us relax. If the taste suits our preference occasionally, that will be a big plus.
Then pour the tea liquid into each tea cup from the pitcher.
(You can take the strainer away during this step.)
The rinsed tea water can be used for warm up Gaiwan, Pitcher and tea cup. Don't waste it.
Give that 1st water away. Surely you can have a try on it when you are the only drinker. You can compare that taste from rinsed water with after coming drink tea water. It is good for learning about tea. Trust me.
Then you can move to drinking steeps.
You just need to repeat these steps above from pouring boiling water onto tea times and times.
If you are first to one tea, try to steep it lightly as you can. Please ignore that "1-2 sec/ 1st infusion, 2-3 sec / 2nd infusion, 3-5 sec / 3rd infusion".
If you think the taste is too thin, you can add the steeping time accordingly and gradually.
The tea leaves in boiled water stay longer, the more bitterness and astringency come into water. Over a certain amount of density, it will be not good for you or your tea drinker to judge and enjoy a tea. (Though specialists judges tea on heavily brewed tea, but that is for saving time and they are already educated and professional. Also they will spit that out generally)
How to do if you are in a miss to steep your tea heavily?
Surely you can add boiled water directly into tea liquid for thinning.
If you have other tea drinkers there, you can restart a new infusion soon but lightly and add this new water into old tea water then serve the mixed tea to your drinkers.
In contrary, if you notice the poured tea water color is too thin, then you can restart a new infusion with longer time and add it into old tea water.
If you can, please let the rinsed tea have a rest of 10 mins or around that in Gaiwan.
It helps improving the taste appearances. During this time gap, you can do something else like below.
The rinsed tea water will leave tea essences on the pitcher, tup, lid. Have a sniff on that is helpful to learn about the tea.
Also it is a good manner to invite your drinker to have a look and sniff on the tea leaves.
3) You may need some other things below.
If you can find alternative things, then you not only save money but also save effort and space for storing these things.
A napkin for cleaning left water on table on tea wares. It is very helpful for keeping an clean and pleasant circumstance.
A clip for picking up or supplying tea cup for your drinker is better than bare hand.
A saucer for holding tea and prying tea.
Also, prepare some cookies or biscuits at first. Sugar free ones are better.