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How to Brew High Mountain Tea

A Quick Guide to Gongfu Tea

A quick and easy to follow guide to brew a great cup of High Mountain Tea using the traditional Gongfu method.

Gongfu (or kungfu) method refers to a specific way of preparing and presenting loose leaf tea that was considered superior to any other when brewing Chinese tea. It is both an art form and chemistry, and connects the mind and body. Its purpose is to brew the finest cup of tea that will not only taste good, it also satisfies the soul. If you have a chinese clay teapot (zishahu), that would be ideal. Otherwise you can also use the convenient teapots with infuser cup, which is what I use here.

The key to extracting the full flavours (and fragrance) of High Mountain Tea is to infuse the tea leaves two or three times in quick succession. In terms of the quantity of tea leaves to use, the temperature of the water, the initial steeping and the subsequent steeping time, are all variables one can gradually master for the tea being brewed, hence it is a Gongfu. But as a general rule of thumb, we use 2 to 3 teaspoons of tea with near boiling water. The first steeping is always a quick 30 to 40 secs, the second can be slightly longer depending on taste preference (see my hints and tips).

I hope you find this guide useful. If you have any suggestions or questions, please send me a note via the contact me page.

First, fill the teapot with 2 to 3 teaspoons (approximately 5-8 g) of tea leaves. how to brew high mountain tea
Boil water and let it cool for about 1-2 min before pouring into the teapot (the ideal temperature is about 95°C). how to brew Taiwan alishan oolong tea
Fill the teapot to the brim, swirl the contents around and quickly discard the water. You can  also pour this water over the teacups to give them a rinse and warm the cups.

The purpose of this step is to condition the tea leaves.
Brewing genuine high mountain tea gongfu style
Fill the teapot to the brim and replace the lid. If using a larger teapot, use 120 ml of water instead.

Let the tea steep for around 30 sec and press the tea release button to fill the bottom pot with the brewed tea. For clay teapots, pour the steeped tea into a pitcher or a serving pot.
high mountain Taiwan alishan brewing tea gongfu style
Repeat the step above, adding 5 seconds to the steeping time.

This will create a more uniform brew as the flavours are released from the tea leaves as they gradually unfurl.
Beautiful flavours of high mountain tea using gongfu style
Now, you are ready to distribute the tea into the teacups and enjoy its beautiful aroma and flavour.

Remember to take in the aroma and appreciate the colour of the tea before you take your first sip. This will give you full mind-body experience.
Golden colour of genuine Taiwan Alishan High Mountain Tea
You can repeat brew as many times as desired, adding 5 seconds to each subsequent steeping.

With good quality High Mountain Tea, you can easily make up to 4 or 5 brews and still retains the body and flavour of the tea.
Brewing a cup of genuine Alishan High Mountain Tea
If you are using the new teapot with an infuser cup, you can sit the infuser on the side to continue brewing while you serve tea or if you wish to fill up the teapot. Taiwan Alishan High Mountain Tea using gongfu style tea cup

Brewing Tips - How to Appreciate Your High Mountain Tea

Always use dry and clean utensils to scoop tea leaves.
Sniff the aroma and appreciate the colour of the tea before drinking.
Drink in small sips and don't take it all in one mouthful.
Observe the beautiful handpicked tea leaves as they unfurl.
Filtered water is preferred but not essential. Water should always be below the boiling point.
Steep the tea leaves more than once. The first steeping will unleash the fragrant aroma of the tea. Subsequent steeping will unravel its tastes and texture.
Add 5 seconds to the steeping time for each subsequent brew. You can vary the strength of the tea by adjusting the quantity of the tea leaves or the steeping time.
Take care not to over-steep as all tea leaves will eventually turn bitter if steeped for too long.
Store tea in an airtight container away from sunlight and humidity to preserve its freshness and aroma. Avoid storing tea in the fridge.
Keep away from other food as tea leaves readily absorb other flavours and odours.
Feel free to be creative and experiment how to best enjoy your tea. The more you brew, the more you will understand the tea's character and bring out its true identity. This is why brewing tea is a Gongfu, an art form to be mastered.