Some big, big changes are happening at our teahouse in Camden. All good. All very exciting. So here's a little FAQ, answered by chinalife founder Don Mei, to get you started on a journey that can transform how you taste tea...
Q. I want to taste real tea the way it was meant to be. Don't I have to go to China for that?
A. Not anymore. We are the first tea house in the UK that lets you enjoy tea in the authentic Chinese style (Gong Fu) – as standard - just like they do in tea's motherland.
We call it True Brew.
Q. Is this really how they do it in China?
Don: Yes. During my regular travels in East Asia, whether I am in a tea house in Yunnan or Fujian, tea is served Gong Fu style. It’s just how they naturally have tea over there.
It's not a 'formal' way of brewing tea, its' the normal way of brewing tea. Western brewing is like listening to a fabulous orchestra on cheap headphones, Gong Fu brewing is full High Fidelity!
Even in Chinese hotels you'll find just enough tea ware and leaf to brew it Gong Fu way by yourself because it’s how they have tea every day.
Q. Hopefully this will get more people to experience tea the way tea artisans intended. Right?
Don: Yes. Over the years I've got to know several tea farmers, having built up a good business relationship with them. I see how hard they work when processing the tea leaves. They are real perfectionists and artists. They work meticulously on bringing out all the various flavour nuances of this amazing leaf so we can enjoy them when drinking the tea.
Tea masters would rather you tasted their work properly – including all the unique subtleties that come with each harvest. And the only way to do it properly is to brew it Gong Fu style.
Q. Then shouldn't every tea house be doing this as standard, without me having to book a whole tea ceremony in advance?
Don: Exactly! That's why we've made True Brew the default way of serving tea here. We're the first in the UK to make Gong Fu the normal way of serving tea because we know this is the best way to enjoy real leaf. And it doesn't have to feel like a whole 'Ceremony'. Gong Fu brewing is not so much about tradition, as it is about flavour and enhanced effects!
Q. But Gong Fu means more leaves, less water... You're not thinking of skimping on the expensive leaf, are you?
Don: No way. In True Brew we'll be adding FIVE TIMES MORE LEAF (at least) than Western Brewing. That's enough for you and your friends to get tea drunk and truly taste the richness of the tea.
Q. Will I have to bring my digital kettle?
Don: No. You tell us which tea you want and we'll bring you a thermos full of water boiled to the perfect temperature. That's all part of True Brew.
Q. But I haven't memorised the Tea Brewing Chart yet... Will you give me a copy?
Don: No problem. True Brew comes with guidelines on how to brew your tea and detailed tasting notes. Use those as a starting point for experimenting with brewing the leaves. Gong Fu brewing is all about being closer to the leaves and becoming a master at brewing.
Q. Where do you get your tea ware from?
Don: For True Brew with the highest grade teas you'll be using the Gong Fu Guru set built to our exact specifications. For years we've been searching the globe for a tea ceremony set that's got the tools, convenience AND style in one package. No such comprehensive product existed. So we've designed one ourselves. Check it out here.
Q. What about those times when I just need a quick tea fix and don't want to play with multiple infusions?
Don: Just ask for Basic Brew. You'll get a tea pot with your chosen leaf for a Western style of brewing.
This is perfect for those who need a quick tea break or who want to grab their favourite tea in a takeaway cup.