(Photos © Jessica Sample / Lonny)“What I love about serving tea is that it puts you in the moment so that you’re present and not thinking about the future or the past,” says actress Mía Maestro, Lonny's summer cover girl and unabashed tea enthusiast. Maestro was introduced to the ceremonial Gong Fu tradition through the nonprofit Global Tea Hut, an online community and magazine, a couple of years ago. She now utilizes the living room of her Craftsman-style Venice, California bungalow to host the Chinese ceremony as a means to meditate or introduce friends to the infusions she collects on her worldwide travels. Read on for an abbreviated guide to enjoying the traditional Gong Fu tradition.
Mía Maestro's Gong Fu Tea Ceremony
- Rinse the empty teapot with boiling water, to both clean and warm it.
- Place your chosen tea leaves into the pot.
- Pour boiling water into the teapot, filling it to overflowing. Traditionally, water is added from a high height.
- Use the lid of the pot to push off any extraneous leaf bits that might have floated to the surface.
- Using the water from the teapot, warm the cups—but do not drink.
- Now you can make the tea to drink. Fill the teapot with boiling water right to the top. This time, though, place the lid on the pot and then pour more boiling water over it to warm the entire pot.
- Allow the tea to steep to your desired strength. Place the cups close to one another, then add the tea to each one continuously in a circle—this ensures that the strength of the tea in each cup is the same.
- Dry the cups with a towel then place them on a saucer to give to your guests—in proper Chinese tea ceremony etiquette, this is done holding the cup or saucer with both hands to show respect.
- Time to enjoy. Drink the tea slowly, and once you've finished, continue to savor its aroma in the empty cup.
For Maestro's part, she's been known to sit on the floor, making use of a pair of 200-year-old robin’s-egg-blue Qing dynasty cups, an organic clay teapot by a master Malaysian potter, and an illustrative ceramic platter by Japanese artist Makoto Kagoshima as the foundations for her beautiful display. Her preferred infusion? An oolong varietal harvested by monks in China’s Wuyi region.“I also like that it’s a moving meditation,” she explains of the practice. “Because I’m really bad at sitting still.”