What is a Gaiwan
A gaiwan (or "guywan" with Wade-Giles romanization) is actually a pretty simple little contraption. It consists of just three parts, as shown here: the lid (left), the cup (center), and the saucer (right). It can be made from pretty much anything except metal (which would absorb far too much heat), such as glass, porcelain, or clay.
Gaiwan PartsThere are no bells and whistles here-- a gaiwan is essentially the same as any standard European teacup, except that it has a lid and no handle. Though the gaiwan can be used as a cup, it is more importantly used to brew the tea itself, replacing the teapot. One can, as I just mentioned, drink straight from the gaiwan, or one can decant the liquor into another cup or serving pitcher (not shown).
How to use a Gaiwan
A Gaiwan is a three part glass, clay or porcelain tea brewing cup comprising a bowl, saucer and lid. Gaiwans are amongst the oldest vessels for brewing Chinese Tea, dating back to around 1350. They are an excellent way of infusing delicately flavoured Oolongs such as Dan Congs and Dan Hong Pao, and Puerhs, as using the Gaiwan allows very close control of the steeping times and makes it easy to pour the tea quickly.
Use a small Gaiwan: 120 - 150ml is about right, smaller is too fiddly and bigger is too cumbersome, and fill it two thirds full with tea. Use freshly drawn filtered water to rinse the tea and discard the first infusion. This is the wash and is designed to clean and ‘wake up’ the leaves. Infusing times depend on the tea you are drinking but are typically short – as little as 10 - 15 seconds for the first infusions, lengthening slightly for subsequent brews.
To pour tea from a Gaiwan into a cup or jug, place the lid at a slight angle to the rim so that tea can flow out but not the leaves. Hold the Gaiwan using your thumb and middle finger to grip the rim and your index finger to hold on to the lid. Keep the Gaiwan well forward in your hand to avoid scalding your palm. Be sure to drain all tea liquor into cups or a pitcher after each infusion to avoid over-steeping the leaves. You can also drink cooler-brewed Green and White Teas directly from the Gaiwan.
Choosing a Gaiwan: Sizes and Shapes
There are quite a range of sizes and shapes. The recommendation is based on functionality and versatility. Disregard my opinion if you want to buy them for fun or collection purposes.
Where to buy a good quanlity Gaiwan
You can buy gaiwan from online shop. There are all kinds of gaiwan online, pay attention to their quanlity when you choose them.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Karina Garcia is sales manager of JK Tea Shop, authentic Chinese Loose Leaf tea supplier, for more information, please visit our website at: jkteashop.com