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How to Steep Tea In a Gaiwan!

Posted on 04/06/2023

The gaiwan is perhaps the most traditional vessel used to prepare tea, dating back centuries to China's Ming Dynasty. It is made up of three parts: the bowl, the saucer it sits on, and the lid.

Gaiwan The bowl holds the water and the leaves as the tea steeps, the saucer helps you to hold the hot gaiwan without burning your fingers, and the lid is used to keep the leaves in check as you sip your tea. Due to their simple yet efficient design, gaiwans are the ideal choice when re-steeping your tea leaves. You will find that the tea's flavor notes develop and change as the leaves open with each steep. It is a true tea experience to witness the metamorphosis taking place in the cup with each sip.

Gaiwan Many seasoned tea drinkers feel that re-steeping is the best way to get the most out of the leaves. However, not all tea leaves are equal when it comes to multiple steepings. Some popular teas to re-steep in a gaiwan are Taiwanese (Formosa) Oolongs and China Pu-erh teas. The photo features ZH34: Sticky Rice Shou Pu-erh compressed tea squares (right) and TT88: Formosa Oolong Spring Dragon (left – link to teas). We have included a comparison of the leaves when they are dry and after they have been steeped four times. For this cupping, seven grams were used. The first three steeps were thirty seconds each, and the final steep was one minute. With each steep, the flavor evolves. Depending on the leaf, some teas can be re-steeped more than 8 times!

Most notably, gaiwans are used in the Gong Fu Cha traditional tea ceremony. "Gong Fu Cha" translates to "making tea with skill," a process we are excited to elaborate on in a future post, when we discuss the ceremony in detail. Have you ever used a gaiwan?

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