Yes, I have successfully acquired a pair of rice grain pattern gaiwans!
I’ve seen a few of these interesting gaiwans in use at the World Tea Expo. Bana Tea Company was using a gorgeous one at the LA International Tea Festival. None were for sale at either venue, sadly. I wanted a rice pattern gaiwan sooooo bad as see through stuff is cool, plus they seem uncommon.
Challenge #1 – finding a rice pattern gaiwan.
I’ve been searching through google/ebay/aliexpress. Sellers call them different things, often not even mentioning the style and lumping it under “gaiwan”, “cup”, and “teapot”. In the end, I spent an afternoon looking through many pages of gaiwan listings on aliexpress. Going through endless listings is not a efficient search behavior, but hey, thorough.
Challenge #2 – finding a rice pattern gaiwan within set budget.
Once you’ve located a cool looking gaiwan, it’s time to search around ebay/aliexpress as often another seller could have the same one for cheaper. Factor in they translate a rice pattern gaiwan differently, it is quite painful to find the perfect seller, the right price plus a reliable seller.
The Rice Pattern Gaiwans!
I got two, as I couldn’t decide between them. The red flower patterned one I thought was really pretty, but the blue one I figure I’d use more. When in doubt, buy both!
While unwrapping the blue gaiwan,
I found a surprise sample! YAY mini tuochas!
Here are some up close pictures of my rice pattern gaiwans:
Challenge #3 – test the gaiwans for leaks.
I’ve heard a couple counts on these rice pattern gaiwans having defects and leaking through the little clear glazed windows. Since I bought these gaiwans cheap, I needed to test them out as soon as possible in case I need to contact the seller for a refund or exchange.
I steeped a round of Mandala Tea’s Colored Species oolong which I got from a Traveling Tea Box. I was generous with the leaf, plus with this oolong having huge leaves I couldn’t see any thing special with my gaiwan! pout!
After having a number of rounds with this oolong I removed the leaves (so much leaf!)
and put the tea back into the gaiwan. I learned since my blue gaiwan is thicker with smaller “windows”, the tea doesn’t show through that much.
With that said, I poured the oolong into the other gaiwan, which is thinner and more rice “windows”. VERY COOL, it is like the entire gaiwan is glowing!
My rice pattern gaiwan is like it has a tea candle inside, but with actual tea and no fire!
In the end, I love my gaiwans, though the blue one is a bit of a disappointment in wow factor, though the design is pretty. Both gaiwans I got didn’t leak, so yay! If you are looking for a spiffy rice pattern gaiwan to impress your fellow tea drinkers – look for one with lots of rice windows for full effect!
Before you say, “Hey, why not just get a glass gaiwan?” I found these gaiwans easier to handle than 100% glass gaiwans. If you’ve ever used a glass gaiwan, they get really hot to the touch – so I personally only use them for cooler steeped teas, like greens and whites. These rice patterned gaiwans have the feel of the usual porcelain gaiwan, with the perk of being able to see the tea inside.
Bonus: Mini Tuocha head Tea Owl!