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So you want to brew tea properly? You need the right teaware. This is my basic overview of considerations when buying your treasures!

GONG FU OR WESTERN

You should all know that in my opinion Gong Fu Brewing is the default way that everyone should make tea. You can read and watch why if you missed my explanations.

So I am going to be assuming here that you are reading this with the intention of brewing Gong Fu. All of the following advice does apply to Western style too but will have less of an effect because Western style is lo-fi brewing.

TYPE OF MATERIAL

GLASS

Perfect for watching the leaves brew. Glass produces a bright, pure, uncoloured taste of the tea. The heat conductivity of glass tends to be quite fast which means that the water will cool quickly. This makes it more suitable for short brewing tea and leaves that should not be extracted hot and long.

Suited to Green, Yellow and other low temperature teas.

PORCELAIN OR CERAMIC

Perfect all rounders for tea appreciation.

Glazed porcelain produces a pure, uncoloured taste of the tea. Porcelain and ceramic can be used for all teas but the quicker heat conductivity of Porcelain means that it cannot brew leaves requiring sustained high heat quite as well as clay.

CLAY

Ultimate for high heat teas.

These are unglazed and full of minerals which react and contribute to the taste and texture of the tea. Clay has a high heat retention so these pots are more suited to teas that require high heat and many infusions like big leaf Oolongs and PuErh tea. It is fundamental that you source an authentic, high quality clay pot as there are many imitations out there made with undesirable material. To learn more about Yixing Clay pots and how to brew with them, please watch these videos.

CAST IRON, SILVER AND OTHER METAL

These were not traditionally used to brew tea. The famous Tetsubin Cast Iron Pots and metal pots are traditionally used to heat up water (adding minerality to the water too). Recently there has been a lot of enameled Cast Iron Teaware being made which is suitable for brewing tea but they are not usually made in Gong Fu size and so it is more suited to Western brewing. The commonly held myth that Cast Iron has a superior heat retention is not actually true. Clay has a much higher heat retention than Cast Iron.

THICKNESS OF MATERIAL

The thicker the material the higher the heat retention capabilities and therefore the more suited to hotter brewing teas with longer infusions. Thin materials are perfect for brewing teas in an arc (hot moving to cool water) such as green tea.

SHAPE AND SIZE OF TEAWARE

The perfect brew ensures that the leaves are free to expand and extract in the water. This is one of many reasons why tea bags produce low quality tea but it extends to those ball infusers and any small brewing baskets. Conversely, too much space means that there will be areas of the pot with water but hardly any leaf which means a weak extraction.

Ideally, the shape and size of the brewing pot should allow the leaves (when brewed) to almost fill the space. Circular shaped pots are pretty much universally suitable for all teas but teas with a lot of buds tend to prefer taller and thinner pots as they occupy space upwards rather than outwards (unlike ball rolled Oolongs).

DIFFERENT TYPES OF TEAWARE

TEAPOT

Classic and easy to use way of brewing.

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GAIWAN

The most functional and controllable way to brew tea.

Porcelain Gaiwan

BREWING BASKET

Brewing on the go.

Finum Basket Brewer

DECANTER (PITCHER, FAIRNESS CUP, GONG DAO BEI)

This is the container to pour off your infusion into form your brewer. This is done for a couple of reasons. The first is to ensure that everyone is tasting the same liquor. When pouring directly from a pot into cups it is unlikely that everyone will get the same strength tea. The second is to have a place to pour your tea to keep warm ready for serving. This means that you don't have to wait until everyone has finished their cups before brewing another infusion.

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AROMA CUPS

These long cups are sometimes used to catch the aroma of the liquor.

TASTING CUPS

Fundamental to the tea experience is the cups that you drink from. The shape should allow easy sipping. The size and material should allow the tea to cool quickly to perfect sipping temperature without waiting.

STRAINER

An essential piece of teaware to remove any unwanted broken tea leaves. You may want to experiment with not straining if you have a good enough strainer in your pot or you are skillfull with your Gaiwan, as this can add more texture to the tea but it is important to have a strainer around for more broken tea.

WATER CATCHER

This allows you to brew at your desk or with your guests therefore enhancing the tea experience. Do not underestimate the sensorial pleasure of being part of the brewing process - watching and smelling the aromatics of the leaves is a huge part of tea appreciation so you want to brew WITH your guests.

MY RECOMMENDATIONS

You can never have enough teaware but we all have to start somewhere. Here is my advice on the teaware that every aspiring teahead should have in their collection:

For those not ready to buy a water catcher:

CONNOISSEUR TEA BREWER - start Gong Fu Brewing with hardly any investment with this all in one brewer and decanter. This takes away the need for a water catcher and allows you to brew Gong Fu style instantly. Perfect for the office or to take away on a holiday.

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A FEW GLASS OR PORCELAIN 30-50ml TASTING CUPS - You have to drink out of something!

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For those that want the full experience with water catcher:

WATER CATCHER OR TEA BOAT - To catch the water being used during your session. Totally liberates the brewing experience.

GLASS GONG FU TEAPOT - Your go-to pot for all tea especially White, Green, Yellow and light Oolong tea.

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YIXING CLAY POT - For hotter and longer brewing teas like Oolong and PuErh.

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A GONG DAO BEI - Either porcelain or glass (porcelain has slightly higher heat retention).

Porcelain Gong Dao Bei Pitcher

A FEW GLASS OR PORCELAIN 30-50ml TASTING CUPS - You have to drink out of something!

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FINE MESH STRAINER - To ensure crystal clear tea.

INTRODUCING THE GONG FU GURU

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I was so annoyed that there was no teaset out there that contained everything that I wanted from a Gong Fu set that I designed this elite brewing set myself. It contains everything that you need for the pinnacle of tea brewing. Watch as I unbox the Guru and show how to use it in these videos.

Let's continue these brewing basics with Length of Steeping.

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