I finally got a Gaiwan! WOOOOOT!
A bit of history – I prefer gravity steepers. Once I got mine from DavidsTea, I was hooked. I later on got Adagio Tea’s IngenuiTEA (which I dislike due to its narrow size). I wanted to try a more traditional way of steeping tea to see the difference, but also experiment.
I shopped all over ebay and online tea shops. My in-laws are going on a cruise in China later this year and I didn’t want to wait that long for a gaiwan.
My Gaiwan came from Yunnan Sourcing’s US shop – I was attracted to the light blue pattern, whereas I’m used to seeing white, glass and darker blue toned patterns. I figure I’d go with a cheaper gaiwan for now to see if I like it, and go from there.
I also bought a Cha Hai with my gaiwan. Pretty!
Anyways, Calla’s Musings has a great post on how to use a Gaiwan, so I tried out my with using cool water. Seemed to go okay. No explosions or anything.
Time to ROCK! Errr, STEEP!
My scale is broken, so I had a hard time figuring out what 4 grams of tea was, so I just added lots. Yeah!
I selected a silver needle white tea, which has a lower temperature of 175F, and followed the gong fu steeping instructions.
You can see a mess of tea leaves on the counter. oops!
So, I managed to burn my fingers for the first 3 runs and spill lots. Finally, on the 4th run I didn’t burn my fingers – yay! I discovered I was being weird with angling the gaiwan towards me, instead of vertical, so the hot water was getting too close to my fingers. I always wasn’t holding the edges of the cup, thus my fingers touching the hotter part of the cup.
I switched to my cha hai with a makeshift strainer as I was getting a little debris from my full leaf tea. I could probably drink it and not give a damn too.
(I’m going to get another strainer soon – it’s on the list!)
After a few more gaiwan sessions, I only used a strainer if the tea was smaller in leaf or had excess debris. Though, if I had company, I’d probably bust out a strainer.
This is how crazy of a tea drinker I can be when I don’t have to review a tea. I steeped, poured into my cup. Steeped the next round and added it to my Cha Hai. Drank all my cup, poured the tea from my Cha Hai. Repeat. I did all 6 infusions just standing in the kitchen and it lasted like 15 minutes. I can really guzzle down tea!
Was it easy? Pretty easy. It’s not completely brainlessly easy like a gravity steeper, but was easy to figure out. Taste wise, I find the gaiwan retained heat well. I also figured there is little contamination between teas – no filter inside the gaiwan or plastic parts that transferred to my tea.
I gotta say a Gaiwan is MUCH easier to clean than a gravity steeper. Just clean like a tea cup! Gravity steeper I have to disassemble and soak in baking soda to do a thorough cleaning.
Anyways, I went out and got a glass gaiwan and tried it out.
I found the glass gaiwan worked just as good, however was much hotter to deal with. A 175F tea heated up the glass gaiwan similar to a boiling water one in my blue gaiwan. However, the glass one looks really nice watching the leaves!
Overall, I found the gaiwan easy to use. The learning curve was pretty small. Actually, I showed my husband, who’s not a tea drinker, once how to pour a gaiwan, and he did it perfect after the first try – faster than me! Though, he said it might be easier for him since he’s got bigger hands.
How not to use a Gaiwan: