I remember my introduction to Gongfu Cha quite well. My friend and I happened into a smallish shop in the Chinese section of the International District in Seattle called “New Century Tea House & Chinese Classical Furniture,” not knowing much about what we were after, but always interested in new tea experiences. It was a tea-infused Saturday as we had launched the day with a lovely pot of jasmine pearls a few blocks away at the Panama Hotel Tea House. Upon entering the tea shop, we were convinced by the proprietress to sit down and let her serve us tea. I was suspicious of the hard sell, but was quickly won over as she began to talk to us about the tea and how best to prepare it. We were captivated by the process – so unlike the strictly formal and minimalist Japanese Tea Ceremony – but so specific in the ways of preparation and of service. She served us a very nice Pu-ehr, which we bought 4 oz. of. This initial experience, not unexpectedly, led to the purchase and frequent implementation of the traditional tools used in Gongfu Cha and an ongoing search for wonderful teas to use them on.

Yixing Set

Introducing other people to Gongfu Cha by serving them tea can be a very rewarding experience. I have had the opportunity to do this a number of times over the past few months, and with the exception of a brother-in-law who did not have the attention span to remain at the table through the final infusion, the guests have been quite interested in the experience and have enjoyed it. The format of the ceremony lends itself nicely to a casual, yet highly formalized, environment. Conversation is fluid and encouraged – There can be be talk about the tea itself and talk about the tools of the service – The guests can gain information and caffeine simultaneously, tiny cups and tidbits of information at a time.

Serving tea in the Gongfu style to people unfamiliar with it does feel a little like prosletizing, particularly with all of the focus on the specifics of accoutrements and protocols and the reverence for the tea itself. But if people find themseves underhandedly indoctrinated into the world of Chinese oolongs and pu-erhs, that’s probably not such a bad thing.


  1. New Century Tea House & Chinese Classical Furniture? on Maynard? This is the place I suggested you check out in your “passing the Gourd ” blog 🙂 I always forget the name of the shop. I just picked a wonderful Bi Luo Chun up from them. I spend most Thursdays at thier shop, they are wonderful people. She is leaving for China before the New Year and plans on touring some pu-erh factories……..hmmmm hopefully she will bring back some nice cakes! Her Imperial loose Pu is good. I love your GongFu set. The cups have such a sensual shape.

  2. Yes, that’s the place. I always get the name wrong also, but go there every time I am in the International District. Thank you for the clarification – I fixed it in the post. Many of the tea things I have came from there, although not the set in the picture, which came from

    (The “passing the Gourd” post was not written by me, by the way. I’m the other one – the third of the three names that start with “C.”)

  3. I stumbled across this same shop before finding this blog. The owners were great and their son is very funny. My girlfriend and I had an excellent time, as did our friend we brought with. We left with quite a bit of tea, pots, and accessories. The noodle shop next door (Mike’s Noodle Shop) also has great food if you live in Seattle.

  4. I try to go in there every time I am in the International District, which is fairly often. I have not tried that noodle shop, but nice food smells were wafting into New Century in the evening the last time we were there. I’ll have to try it sometime. Thanks for the recommendation!