Getting the best tasting cup is the goal of every tea lover and the methods for doing so differ from East to West. Eastern style uses more tea and less water. Western methods use less leaf (usually shredded to bits in a bag), more water, and MORE TIME. Let’s face it, time is a luxury in our modern world and while it’s always a joy to get out the tea set, it’s not practical for work or when you need a cup to go.
During the work week, we need our tea perfect and we need it fast!
The traditional Gong Fu method calls for a greater tea to water ratio, LESS TIME and tiny cups of tea. For black tea, the average first infusion is about 10 SECONDS versus 4 MINUTES doing it the western way. And let’s not talk about what happens when you’re called off to do something else and return to a cup full of bitterness.
Okay, but what’s Gong-Go?
It’s the same method as Gong Fu but without out all the costly teaware, less fuss, and gives you MORE TEA. Not to say there aren’t a few specific tools involved. But depending on how well your kitchen is stocked, you could switch to this modern take on an ancient method for about $20.00 vs the $100+ it can cost to for a functional Gong Fu set. This method also allows for more control and personal preference. In the end, tea is a personal experience; the rules are only guidelines that each tea lover must perfect to suit their own tastes.
Is there any science behind this?
Actually, there is. These beautiful little gems range from new tea buds to mature leaves. To protect the effort it takes a tea plant to produce its new growth, they pump them full of chemicals the bugs don’t like. It’s these chemicals that give tea its distinct flavors, aromas, and the health benefits and are great for us – all types of tea are a great source of antioxidants.
Tea’s amazing ability to fight free radicals comes from two specific compounds with the highest concentrations found in green tea – catechins and polyphenols. However, they are bitter and can have a tannic quality to them, especially when over infused. Good tea is about a balance of flavors, but getting a good cup of green tea by brewing it in the western style is next to impossible. The small amount of leaf used requires it steep for longer and releases too many catechins, resulting in a strong bitter taste. The quick infusion times (15 to 60 seconds) of Gong-Go produces a noticeably superior cup of tea!
But do you really save time?
Over the long hall – YES, especially for tea lovers that drink tea throughout the day. Let’s look a look at some averages for black at one cup per day.
Black Tea Western Style:
When brewing just one cup/infusion at 4 minutes per cup or 4 minutes per day, that’s 28 minutes a week, about 2 hours a month or 24 hours a year – an entire day of the year just waiting for your one cup of tea. If you’re drinking more than one cup a day I’ll let you do the math, but by now you probably don’t really want to know.
Black Tea Gong-Go Style:
The average brew time is about 45 seconds for eight infusions. Assuming your only drinking one cup per day that’s 45 seconds per day, a little over 5 minutes a week, 21 minutes a month or just over 4 hours a year – that’s basically a whole day freed up! The savings in time is substantial over the course of the year by using the Gong-Go style, especially if you’re having more than one cup a day!
But how is Gong-Go any different from Gong Fu?
More water and tea. The Gong-Go method also eliminates the elaborate teawear and increases the leaf/water volumes for 8 to 12-ounce cups instead of the tiny Gong Fu size. Gong-Go also utilizes those new modern bottom-dispensing infusers that sit right on your favorite to-go mug.
Can Gong-Go style be used for CTC (cut-tear-curl) tea?
Absolutely and is one of the more exciting aspects of Gong-Go. However, it’s only recommended for black teas. Any other type of tea submitted to the cut-tear-curl process is just plain wrong and always ends in a bitter and disappointing cup. The brew time is around 1 minute vs 4 to 5.