The gaiwan is both elegant and versatile, consisting only of three stacked parts.
The body of the gaiwan is narrow at the base to collect tea leaves and wide at the opening to easily receive water. The lid maintains water temperature when closed, and tilted slightly, also acts as a strainer. The stand keeps hands cool. Together, the three parts function to brew tea beautifully.
The gaiwan is our preferred brewing vessel when we run tastings at the shop, and while it is ideal for green, whites, jasmines and a few lighter oolongs, the gaiwan is versatile enough to handle even black and pu-erh teas.
The gaiwan arrived late in the history of tea ceramics, making its first appearance under the reign of Emperor Kangxi, the fourth emperor of the Qing Dynasty.
In the 61 years of his reign (AD 1661 to 1722), tea appreciation had permeated almost every aspect of Chinese society, and the gaiwan was the ubiquitous vessel of the age.
Historically, the gaiwan was used as a tea cup. The bowl was lifted to the mouth, and the lid was used to filter the leaves with each sip. Today, the gaiwan is used primarily as a brewing vessel in place of a teapot in traditional gong fu cha preparations.
For Greens & Whites Jingdezhen Gaiwan, Summer
For Aromatic Oolongs & Blacks Jingdezhen Gaiwan, Spring
Select a gaiwan based on the type of tea that will be brewed in it. For lighter green teas, a Jingdezhen porcelain “summer” gaiwan is a good starter vessel. But for brewing oolongs and black teas, the higher shape of the Jingdezhen porcelain “spring” gaiwan better retains heat and captures a tea’s aromatics.