Technically speaking, brewing tea is an extraction of nutrients and flavours from tea leaves with water, a concept which first appeared over 5000 years ago in ancient China for Chinese medicine. After centuries of innovation and experimentation, both Gung-Fu and Gai-Wan styles have become the standard method in brewing tea.
The key of using a small pot (both Gung-Fu or Gai-wan approach) is to minimise the use of tea leaf (as tea is an expensive commodity, especially wild tea!!) and at the same time maximise the tea leaf to water ratio. A typical tea pot should have an internal volume of 100 – 200 mL which requires roughly 2 to 8 g of tea leaf per serving. To simplify this further, when the tea leaf is soaked with hot water (brewing) and fully detangled, the volume of the tea leaf should reach at least 80% of the internal volume of the tea pot. With such a high tea leaf to water volume ratio, it helps the release of flavours from the tea leaf into the water in the shortest amount of time – to avoid over brewing. So using these methods we can extract a small amount but concentrated tea flavours in each infusion cycle, hence, the tea leaf can be brewed/infused multiple times.
In general, the more scented and processed tea tends to have less infusion cycles because their flavours are sprayed onto the leaf surface so they can be easily wash off by the water.
Whereas in the case of wild tea and high quality farmed teas, all the flavours are packed tightly inside the leaf, in fact, they are locked inside the plant cells, protected by the cell wall. As a result, the flavours can only slowly release into the water during infusion. Generally speaking, white tea and green tea tend to have higher infusion cycles as they only require minimal processing during production. The plant cells remain mostly intact which help to retain the flavours and they tend to give lighter and elegant teas over many infusion cycles. For black and oolong tea, they normally require more mechanical processing, such as rolling and kneading which tend to do some damage to the plant cells. Hence, their flavours can be extracted more easily and they tend to give more concentrated tea with less infusion cycles.
Our top quality wild white tea can be easily infused 8 times using the Gung-Fu or Gai-Wan methods.