Oolong, Gong Fu Style

Oolong - the Philosopher's Drink.  Sometimes called liquid sunshine.  This is tea oxidized 15 - 75%, and falls between black and green.  The recommended way to enjoy this magnificent tea is gong fu style.  This can be variously translated to mean "effort and patience" or "skill and patience" or "making tea with effort".  There is no hard and fast rule to making a perfect cup of Oolong but only general guidelines.  The aim is to elicit as much character and complexity out of the leaves which can be infused up to 8 times.  You need some basic utensils:

  • A Teapot, preferably unglazed earthenware, Yxing if possible.
  • A pitcher
  • Small tea cups
Water is heated (around 180 degrees) and the first pouring is for heating and rinsing out the cups. Next, the teapot is filled one-third or one-half full with tea leaves.  This allows enough space for the leaves to expand.  The first infusion of about 10-15 seconds is used to awaken the leaves and remove excess dust and poured into cups and not drunk but poured out.  Every subsequent brief infusion of about 20-30 seconds is then poured into a pitcher or immediately into small cups in one fluid circular motion so that all the cups receive the same strength and color.  The teapot is filled immediately after each pouring and every subsequent infusion can be a bit longer than the previous.  Each Oolong requires experimentation to get the ratio of leaf to water correct as well as the length of each infusion.  Legend has it that after repeated use of a Yxing teapot for a specific Oolong, eventually the teapot retains the innate character of the Oolong leaf and no tea needs to be added, just water!
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