Know Your Teaware: Gaiwan

gaiwan

Dearies we’ve talked a little bit about different teaware, and today I’m featuring a vessel that helps you brew your tea carefully, with attention and reverence for the tea leaves. One of the ways to get the full flavor out of full leaf tea is to use a gaiwan. If you are a tea enthusiast you’ve probably seen one of these vessels, and perhaps you own one yourself!

 A gaiwan is a bowl-shaped vessel with a lid and saucer. You put a large amount of leaves inside, and use short steeps of tea. You use the lid to carefully hold back the leaves as you pour out the tea into a pitcher, and then pour into cups. It’s a simple way to prepare tea, and extract the full flavor of the leaves. Kat likes using a gaiwan because it helps her get to really know the tea. You brew small batches with quick steeps, and re-steep many times over. By brewing this way you can see how the flavor of the tea changes with each steep, and watch the leaves open up and release all of their unique flavors.

 You can use just about any loose leaf tea with nice big leaves. Kat uses her gaiwan for everything from Chinese green and black teas, to puerh, and oolongs. It takes a little bit of practice to get used to brewing and pouring with a gaiwan. So be sure to use one that is inexpensive and sturdy for your first experience. Kat picked up an inexpensive thick ceramic gaiwan in her local Asian market for just a few dollars. It worked nicely as a practice vessel. She’s now graduated to one that’s slightly more delicate but she hasn’t purchased an expensive one as she still feels a bit clumsy with it. She also has a glass gaiwan that gets used all the time. It’s sturdy and you can watch the tea leaves change with each steep.

 The best way to learn how to use a gaiwan is practice. A visual aid is handy, and this video is a great introduction. Since the vessel is usually ceramic or glass, you don’t need to worry about using it for one particular tea, like a yixing teapot. You can simply clean it out and use with a different tea. Kat has started using a gaiwan to prepare small cups of tea for friends because it makes a delicious cup of tea but also is fun to watch! You get a little table side theatrics with your tea tasting.

 Kat likes to set up her tea table with flowers and a favorite tea pet (dearies, learn more about tea pets here!)This makes the gaiwan brewing process a bit more personal. Do you have a favorite gaiwan? What teas do you enjoy preparing with it?

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