Nestling neatly within your hands, this Unglazed Gaiwan calls to mind the most ancient Chinese tea-drinking traditions. Made from Yixing clay, produced for centuries to the west of Shanghai, this authentic brewing set allows you to steep and drink tea in the time-honoured Chinese way.
Comprising a lidded cup (or ‘bowl’) and a saucer, a gaiwan also enables you to re-steep your tea leaves 2-3 times (see below), ensuring you get the most out of every tea leaf.
Yixing clay is made from ‘zisha’ purple sand. The material’s porous nature tends to absorb the flavours of the tea, so you may like to use this speciality piece of teaware for just one style of your favourite strong-flavoured tea. We love using it for oolong, green and white teas – but you could use it for any loose-leaf tea you like.
Using Your Gaiwan
Rinse the gaiwan cup with warm water and place the required amount of tea in the cup. Add water at the correct temperature to the cup. Once the tea has steeped (see below for a guide), pick up the cup and saucer and position the lid slightly askew, just enough to allow the tea to pour out while still retaining the leaves. Hold firmly, pour and enjoy!
How Long To Brew In A Gaiwan?
The traditional method involves a very short brewing time with a high leaf-to-water ratio (1 part leaves: 2 parts water). The leaves remain in the bowl and can be used for several re-steepings.
For black and oolong teas: the first step is to gently pour the water over the leaves to rinse them, discarding the water after a couple of seconds. This is called the ‘awakening’ of the tea. Thereafter, and depending on the type of tea, this gongfu method allows you to enjoy multiple steepings.
Black tea: 15 seconds
Oolong tea: 20 seconds
Green tea: 25 seconds
White tea: 30 seconds
For the subsequent steepings, add 5-10 seconds every time.