Lao Ren Cha – Old Man’s Tea

Gong Fu Cha, also known as Lao Ren Cha (老人茶) or Old Man’s Tea, is a traditional brewing method associated with the older generation who appreciated tea by using purple clay teapots and sipping from small cups. This practice was prevalent among the Teochew, South-East-Asia, and Taiwan communities. Over time, due to its elaborate procedure and time-consuming nature, it became commonly known as Gong Fu Tea.

The term “Gong Fu” (功夫) is a combination of two words: “Gong” (功) meaning “work,” “achievement,” or “merit,” and “Fu” (夫) translating to “man.” Literally, it signifies the “achievement of man.” The essence of Gong Fu extends beyond tea and refers to any skill attained through dedicated effort and practice. It embodies the pursuit of excellence in various domains, such as cooking, calligraphy, martial arts, tea, gardening, and medicine. Gong Fu emphasizes continuous learning, disciplined practice, and the development of skills through dedicated education. It is not about attaining perfection but rather about the ongoing journey of learning, practice, contemplation, and personal growth.

A Gong Fu Cha Master is someone who chooses to follow the disciplined Path of Tea through practice and learning. They are not individuals who have achieved perfect mastery but rather those who embrace the pursuit of knowledge and mastery with diligence and discipline.

The term “Lao Ren Cha” or The Old Man’s Tea reflects the practice among the elderly, possibly because aging often leads us back to the essence and fundamentals of life. The Path of Tea reconnects us with nature, encompassing the fundamental aspects of tea brewing that civilization has moved away from. It encompasses understanding the nature of water, the significance of clay, the influence of fire, the importance of air, and the subtleties of the process. Gong Fu Cha is an interdisciplinary art that reminds us of our responsibility as individuals in choosing what we consume. It invites us to embrace the connection to nature and the mindfulness it brings. Gong Fu Cha is a journey, a way of life, and a celebration of the skillful art of tea brewing.

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