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A Tea Ware Guide to Chinese Gong Fu Tea Ceremony

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If you are new to the world of Chinese tea it is essential that you get to know the basic components of the Chinese Gong Fu tea ceremony. The following is a complete list of everything required for the ceremony.


Kettles come in many different varieties. Electric temperature control kettles are made from steel and allow you to dial in the precise temperature for your tea. Cast iron kettles are a more traditional choice. They are generally preferred because their teapot like spout makes it easier to pour the water into a Yixing or Gai Wan (types of Chinese teapots, see below). They can be heated on an induction plate, stove top, or over a charcoal pit called a brazier. Kettles range in a variety of material including your common plastic and steel. However you may be able to find some molded from clay or carved from volcanic rock. The choice of which kettle to use is a matter of person taste.


The teapot is normally made from special clays called Yixing or Chao Zhou. Glass, porcelain, or celadon teapots may also be used. They are usually small in size compared to the larger western variety. This allows for shorter brew times and multiple steeps to help experience the changing aromas and flavours of the tea.

Gai Wan:

Gai Wan literally translates as “covered cup”. It can be used as a brewing vessel (an alternative teapot)as well as a drinking cup. Gai Wans always come in 3-piece sets consisting of a small bowl, a lid, and a saucer. They are normally made of porcelain or glass and can be used to brew any type of tea. Like the Chinese Yixing and Chao Zhou teapots, the smaller size of the Gai Wan allows for multiple steeps and shorter steeping times.

Gong Dao Bei:

This is also known as the serving glass. Most commonly made of porcelain, glass, or clay the Gong Dao Bei holds the tea after brewing so as to not over steep the tea. Leaving the leaves in the water to brew causes the tea to go bitter over time and is not desirable. The tea is then portioned out to individual cups from the Gong Dao Bei.

Tea Cups; Appreciation (Pinming Bei) and Aroma (Wenxiang Bei):

These two cups are used to introduce the guests to their tea. First the tea is poured into the aroma cup which is shaped similar to a flute glass, allowing the aroma to concentrate within. The guests then pour the tea into the appreciation cup to drink. The smell left over in the aroma cup is different from the dry leaves and the brewed tea. As the cup cools the aroma subtly changes. The two cup system is not always employed. In most cases only the appreciation cup is used, but to really experience the aroma to its fullest, we recommend using both.

*The above items are needed for brewing, serving and consuming tea. The following items are necessary components for the tea ceremony.*

Tea Tray (Cha Pan):

This holds all the items to brew the tea as well as collects all the waste water. Tea trays are most often made of wood or bamboo. Occasionally you may find one crafted from clay, ceramics, stone, or jade. Some tea trays are single layered and connected via a small hose to a waste bucket, and some are double layered and can hold the waste water in second tray located underneath.

Waste Bucket (Fei Cha Tong):

This is a bucket stored underneath the table and serves to catch the waste water from the tea tray. They are normally made out of wood, bamboo, plastic or metal.

Strainer (Lvwang) & Strainer Holder (Lvwang Jia):

The strainer is placed on top of the serving cup (Gong Dao Bei) before the tea is poured from the steeping vessel. This prevents any tea leaf residue from getting into your cup. The strainer can be made from metal, plastic or even natural calabash gourd. The strainer should be placed on the holder when not in use. The holders come in all shapes and sizes and can be made from almost any material.

Tea Holder (Cha He):

These are small, mostly porcelain plates used to momentarily house the dry leaves before steeping. Presenting the tea in this fashion allows the drinker to examine the leaves with ease and is efficient for releasing the aromas.

Coaster (Bei Dian):

Used to hold the tasting and serving cups. The coasters can be made out of wood, metal, or bamboo.

Tea Serving Tray (Feng Cha Pan):

Made from bamboo or wood, these trays are used to carry the teacups when serving tea.

Tea Props (Cha Daoju):

Also known as Gong Fu tea tools, this set contains 6 different pieces often made of wood or bamboo.

Tea prop holder: A cylinder with an open top used to hold the remaining 5 pieces

Tea funnel: The Funnel rests on the mouth of the teapot to widen and to stop the leaves from spilling out

Chaze: A spoon used to measure the amount of tea

Tea Scoop: A small scoop used to move the tea onto the serving tray

Tea Needle: A long spike used to clean the spout of the teapot

Tea tongs: These tongs are used pick up hot cups or picking out and escaped tea leaves

Brush (Yang Hu Bi):

A brush used to gently clean the outside of the Yixing Tea Pots. This is an important tool because Yixing teapots cannot be cleaned using conventional cleaning products and if they are handled too much, the oil from your skin will be absorbed by the clay.

Pu’er Tea Knife (Pu’er Dao):

This is a long dull knife used to break apart tea cakes and other compressed teas. It comes in two different shapes: a flat knife or a thin needle.

Tea Canister (Chaoye Guan):

A container used to store tea. These can be made from metal, glass, porcelain or clay. A good tea canister should be both light and airtight.

Pot Holder (Hu Cheng):

This is used to hold the teapot. They are mostly made from clay, ceramic, or porcelain to match the teapot.

Lid Holder (Gai Zhi):

A small pillar used to hold the lid of the teapot when it has been removed to place the leaves into the teapot.

Tea Cloth (Cha Jin):

A very absorbent cloth used to clean any water or tea stains from the other tea ware.

Water Calyx (Shui Yu):

A large bowl used to place any waste water, tea dregs or unfinished tea during the ceremony that did not spill onto the tea tray. The bowl can be made from porcelain, glass, or clay.

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