Many consider a porcelain gaiwan to be the most perfect material for steeping any type of tea. Porcelain is fired at a high temperature in the kiln, so the glaze bonds with the clay and does not ride on the surface as it does with some ceramics. This gives porcelain durability, thin walls, and elegant shapes that tend to be light in the hand.
This gaiwan is as practical as it is beautiful. Because it is fully glazed, it will not retain the taste or aroma of a previously-steeped tea – a quick rinse with warm water is all that is needed when steeping different types of tea in succession. When you are finished using your gaiwan, just give it a quick rinse and allow it to fully dry before putting it away.
A traditional gaiwan is a small, lidded tea-steeping vessel that sits on a small saucer. Gaiwans are the perfect vessels for steeping oolong, Pu-erh, & Hei Cha, as tea drinkers do in China and Taiwan. These teas require a different ratio of tea to water than what is used in Western-style, ‘English’ tea drinking. Asian-style steeping uses more tea leaf and less water and the tea leaf is re-steeped multiple times to reveal different nuances of flavor. The serving size of tea liquor is small, but the flavor will be rich in dimension and full in the mouth. And, as the same leaf is steeped repeatedly, each reveals a different facet of flavor. Long tea drinking sessions around the tea table with friends means that the gaiwan will be in constant use.
Gaiwans were first used in China sometime in the Ming dynasty. Despite their simplicity and accessible price, gaiwans are a serious tea steeping vessel for all types of Chinese tea. Gaiwans come in several different sizes and slightly differing shapes. These vessels can be used to steep tea for one or several tea drinkers. In China, gaiwans are sold and used everywhere. In tea houses and tea shops gaiwans sit side-by-side with more expensive Yixing teapots, and, when glazed, can be used with any type of tea.
Learning to use a gaiwan is easy but it can take a little practice. Developing graceful hand movements and pouring techniques takes time, but once you master a gaiwan, it is a great feeling of accomplishment! (the Gaiwan used in the photo below is smaller than the one for sale on this page)
Slight variations in the painting, colors, tooling, patterning and kiln effects of Chinese and Japanese tea wares are to be expected. We have carefully photographed this item as best as possible – please be aware that different device screens can render colors and subtle tones slightly differently.
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