Crane Stance can not be discussed all under one umbrella, because there are significant differences in optimal gear, talent, and play style choice depending on what you intend to accomplish with the stance. Here are the four main approaches, as I see them:
Storing Mana Tea on the Pull
This is, I believe, the most prevalent approach to Crane. Many Mistweavers never bother to switch into Crane Stance at all, but if they do, they’ll start there on the pull, and switch to Serpent when the first nontrivial damage occurs. They use this to build up Mana Tea stacks, which will be used later on the fight. Generally, these Mistweavers do not switch back into Crane, even if there are lulls in damage later in the fight.
Healing Melee Stacks Through Consistent Damage
Choosing Chi Explosion and staying in Crane Stance for the whole fight first gained popularity on Mythic Butcher, after Chinese Monk 自在阿宝 posted his logs in late December. This option requires a specific damage output pattern from the boss to be effective, but is a great way to do consistent damage and healing throughout the fight. There are actually two sub-categories I’d put here: no-buffs and buffs, referring to Tiger Palm and Rising Sun Kick.
Pick Pool of Mists, gear for maximum damage output, and act like a DPS player who just happens to heal in the process. Best suited for farm, obviously, and in my mind the only way to do farm without getting bored out of your mind! Not like you can outsnipe other healers there anyway.
Burst Heal when Needed, Apply Damage Otherwise
This is the most difficult to pull off, but also the most rewarding. This is the way for you to maximize your contribution to the raid as a Mistweaver. In periods of low damage, other healers simply cast their most mana efficient heals, and perhaps throw a few Wraths or Smites the boss’s way, but we can do more! Talent choice, gear choice, and when you swap stances back and forth varies greatly from boss to boss.
There are valid reasons to take each of the four approaches: the first is the simplest, the second is really quite good for certain bosses, the third is great fun on farm, and the last optimizes your play on most progression bosses.