I finally gave in and bought a gaiwan, I’ve got how to use it without spilling pretty much down, but I’m wondering if people can share their insight on the best teas to brew in gaiwan, steeping times, possibly what not to brew in a gaiwan. Also I’d be interested in reading why a certain tea would be beneficial to brew in a gaiwan as opposed to another method.
Well I learned by watching a few videos on youtube. I also learned by just doing it, some people have a different ways of holding it. I put my thumb and middle finger on opposites sides of the lip and my middle finger on top, holding the lid to control the water. I have found after owning three different gains for three different companies quality of the porcelain does matter. I just bought one from Rishi, and it is thinker then one I bough from another company. I generally Like gaiwans that hold 3-3.5oz of water. I had a taiwan that held 5.5oz and it was just to big to me.
Here is a video on how I hold mine and the gaiwan I now use:
Verdant tea also has some videos and articles about tea. If you go to each tea you can also look at how they are brewed to get an idea. Most places that sell tea will let you know what they think is best for the tea.
My teas that I brew are:
pu’er-depends for me
and a few black teas like (Yunnan,Keemun,and formosa Assam)
Some people like to brew fruit herbals, and honey bush/rooibos, but I personally don’t. I don’t think that there is a rule on what not to brew, but the ones that I sited are general the ones that can be a little hard to brew in a gaiwan.
Steep times to me depend on the tea. If you are doing it the traditional Gongfu brewing you do it in seconds. Increasing every 2-4 seconds depending on the tea. I personally don’t do this, I use to do this, but now I know what I like for different teas, and I just know when I want to pour by smelling the lid.
I know I did not answer everything you asked..but these are a few things.
I like to use my gaiwan for any full leaf tea – ncluding black teas, which I think a lot of people avoid in gaiwans because the leaves tend to be smaller. I tend to use it only for pure teas, but I’m sure you could use it for anything you want, really.
I find Verdant Tea nad Teavivre have very nice quality tea that works well in a gaiwan as the leaves tend to be more full than from many other places I have bought from.
I usually use gaiwan to brew any kind of tea except for some teas like Tai Ping Hou Kui which is too large to put in gaiwan. For some green tea like Longjing if I want to enjoy it’s beautiful shape I would like to use glass to brew it.
From this album you can see how I exactly use the gaiwan:
Damn, I have to get one of those. But I’m such a picky person and I don’t know which one to buy (and they’re not that cheap btw). I’ve read that gaiwan with thin wall is used to brew greens, whites and oolongs as opposed to black and pu erh which should be brewed with thicker wall.
I find that Gai wan’s are perfect for brewing green and lighter roast oolong teas.
For darker roast oolongs I like to use an Yixing pot because they retain heat more effectively.
For a lighter roast Taiwan oolong for example, one nice thing about the gai wan is that if you start at say 205F, this initial temperature will be hot enough to cause the leaves to rapidly open. Depending on thickness, the porcelain will diffuse heat so that once the leaves are open they will be at an optimal 195 – 200 F temperature.