Chaozhou tea brewing set up
Chaozhou tea brewing set up

One of the most advance tea brewing technique is the Chaozhou Gongfu tea brewing style. There are many variations to it, adapted over the years but the basics and goals are generally the same. Chaozhou tea brewing style typically involved using a small Yixing or Chaozhou Teapot to brew tea.

Whilst its basic principles and philosophies can be explained in minutes, it takes decades to understand and master it. The brewing process looks fast and simple but everything happen in nanoseconds and it require a very high level of skills, habits and profound understanding to move that fast in the correct sequence and order without hesitation. A slightest hint of doubt or hesitation will affect the outcome of the brew tremendously.

In Chaozhou tea brewing, there many advance techniques. Micro vibration is one of them. I often refer to this advance technique as “Vibro”. There are also many other advance techniques and they are often just whispered away as a subtle hint during tea sessions. Beginner may not take these technique seriously and often dismiss them as a passing remark in tea conversation.

Vibro can be done in many ways. A common way is to place the base of the teapot on the rim of the tea boat, tray or plate before dispensing out the brew. The teapot is then dragged along the side of the rim, with its base grinding on the rim thus creating micro vibration in the teapot. The purpose of creating the micro vibration is to further brew the tea at microscopic level.

The picture below shows the base of three teapots frequently use by me to brew Chazhou tea brewing style. On the left is a teapot with the usual undamaged base. The centre and right teapot show the worn off base of the teapots as a result of undergoing years of Vibro brewing technique. Most teapot collector will not practice this techniques to that level for the fear of damaging the base of the teapot. But there are much to be gained if one has some spare teapots which can be “sacrificed” for the sake of understanding this technique.

Vibro technique aims to draw out the desirable essence of the tea.  Most advance tea brewer can consistently brew a decent cup of tea but to push the same brew to a higher level, advance technique like Vibro must be adopted. With micro vibration of the pot, the tea is further brewed at microscopic level to further enhance the body, aroma, after taste and the complexity of the brew. It can elevate a good brew to an excellent brew. If perfectly done, the whole essence and spirit of the tea can be felt in the brew.

There are many other advance techniques in Chaozhou Gongfu tea brewing. Some of them are e.g. rocking the teapot, tilting the teapot, shaking the teapot etc. etc. but Vibro is one of the common technique often done subtlely and quietly by many advance tea brewer habitually.

All said, as simple concept as it seems to be, Vibro, like many other tea brewing techniques, require years of practice and understanding to master.