The best way to prepare tea is the Chinese method of tea-making called Gong Fu Cha (Tea with Great Skill). Here is a list of the items that are used. More information about these items and Gong Fu Cha tea-making can be found in our guide: Gong Fu Cha - The Complete Guide To Making Chinese Tea - By Daniel Lui.
These special unglazed clay teapots are at the heart of the Gong Fu Cha tea-making process and make all teas taste better. See Yixing Teapots in the Online Store. For detailed information about Yixing Teapots, use the navigation links to the left or read our guide: How To Choose A Chinese Teapot by Daniel Lui.
Chinese teacups are low, shallow and wide and very small by Western standards, like a tiny bowl that is just large enough for one or two sips. This emphasises the “quality over quantity” aspect of Gong Fu Cha, 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. See Teacups in the Online Store.
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. A large flat platter or a number of shallow bowls on towels can work or even a baking/cookie sheet with a nice cloth lining the bottom works fine. See Tea Trays in the Online Store.
This is the traditional porcelain cup that has a lid for making, serving and drinking tea. These can be used instead of Yixing teapots and pitchers and do not change the taste of the tea as their hard surface makes them "flavour neutral". This makes them very good for evaluating and comparing teas. Or you can use any other glass or porcelain vessel, making sure it is the right size for the number of people being served. See Gai Wan in the Online Store.
Using the correct temperature of water for each different type of tea is essential for ensuring the best taste. The easiest way to do this is with a variable temperature controlled kettle. See The Pino Digital Kettle in the Online Store. If you are using a regular kettle or a pot to heat the water and you don't have a thermometer handy, the size of the bubbles will tell you the correct temperature for the tea you are making. For more information, see the section on Water Temperature in our guide: Gong Fu Cha - The Complete Guide To Making Chinese Tea - By Daniel Lui.
By using a pitcher, you can pour the tea from the teapot into the pitcher to stop the brewing and serve the tea directly into the teacups. Also known as a fair cup because it ensures the tea is the same strength for each cup. We recommend these for beginners which makes tea-making simpler and more enjoyable when starting out. You can also use a gai wan or any glass or porcelain vessel. A lid helps keep the tea warm. See Pitchers in the Online Store.
Chinese Tea Scoop
This 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. We recommend these for beginners because it establishes a standard measure and makes it easier to handle tea leaves. For more information see Chart - Number of Chinese Tea-Scoops To Use Based on Size of Tea Leaves and Size of Teapot in our guide: Gong Fu Cha - The Complete Guide To Making Chinese Tea - By Daniel Lui.
You might wish to consider a starter package which can be found in many Chinese teashops. These are usually inexpensive and can include a tea tray, teapot, pitcher, gai wan, teacups and tools. See Tea Sets in the Online Store.