I have a Gaiwan!!
Last Friday morning I was obsessing over photos of Gaiwans on various sites, & I entered “Gaiwan StL” into the search engine, just for the heck of it. St. Louis is a pretty progressive city, so maybe?
That led me to http://www.fragrantcup.com/, a local importer of teas & teaware that I had never heard of. I had to go out & run various errands anyway, so I called him (Eric) up & asked if I could stop by to pick up a gaiwan from his shop. Turns out, he works out of his house, just doing mail order (although he can be hired to serve tea for events). We had a great conversation, & he ended up inviting me to stop by. When I got there, he served me tea, showing me how to use the gaiwan. We had several steepings of an aged & pressed Red Robe, followed by a puerh, & we visited for about an hour. I bought a 4oz gaiwan & an oz of a tea that just came in, 2012 Oriental Beauty (that’s the one with the bug bites, which I wanted to try), & he sent me home with several samples (which will be reviewed at some future time). A very nice guy, & a fun impromptu afternoon!
My first student came at 10:00 this morning, & I know she loves tea, so while she was warming up, I brewed the Hand Picked Summer Tieguanyin from Verdant, to share with her. I quickly realized that it would take 3 steepings to fill our cups, so I did those back to back, pouring into a larger teacup (now I need a larger gaiwan & a pitcher) so that all the flavors would blend. Then I poured into 2 4oz cups to serve. She loved it, I love it! It’s so beautifully fragrant & flavorful, & although the earlier steepings (10 seconds each + or -, which now I think might be too long) were somewhat astringent, I continued steeping & drinking after she left. I have no idea what steeping I’m on now, but it is still a pale green & that creaminess that others have alluded to is starting to come through. I have enough left in my sample to try again another day, so next time I drink it I will pay more attention to each individual steeping & try to document the difference.
I will offer this advice, regarding the gaiwan: Don’t fill it too full!