Lion select said

Help Brewing Green Tea in a Gaiwan

Does anyone have any guides/parameters for brewing green tea in a gaiwan?

So far I’ve been basing mine off of the guide at Tea Guardian. Though with those low temperatures and long steep times you tend to end up with a full flavor profile in one brew and not getting a very good second or third steep. It is already bitter and seeming drained of flavor by second steep.

The suggestions over at The Fragrant Leaf are a little vague but generally suggest about half the steeping time.

I am having trouble finding any other suggestions for how to brew green tea in a gaiwan (how much leaf, how much time for first infusion and repeat infusions, water temp). I know there are a few schools of thought on the topic (don’t use a gaiwan, use a gaiwan normally, use a gaiwan with the lid off). I’m just wondering if any of you have a good basic starting point for brewing green teas gongfu style. I know the brewing will vary depending on each tea, but I’d like a rough starting point to add to my tea guide that I use. I am referring mostly to Chinese green teas, by the way, not so much steamed Japanese green teas. I’ve already found separate instructions for getting the most out of those.

Does anyone use a Gaiwan to brew their green tea? Please share your method!

7 Replies

Gaiwan usually uses more leaf but offers more steeps and lower times. That’s what initially got me into using one. The best steeping instructions I have found that match my personal taste are from Teavivre.

Chinese Gongfu Way
Water : 3oz / 85ml 176℉ /
Use 4 Grams Tea
5 steeps : rinse,20s,40s,70s,120s,150s
Gaiwan may be your choice
Rinsing time is around 5 seconds
Uncover when brewing can have better flavor

As I understand it the table above is an average Chinese method. Tea Guardian suggesting to start with a 2 minute steeping time is very unusual, I have never heard of it being so long for a gaiwan before. No wonder it’s coming out bitter. It may be cultural differences but if it’s not right for you then definitely change it and try one of the lower steeping times.

There is no right and wrong essentially, just down to personal preference and taste.

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Lion select said

Thanks for the suggestion. Some of the types of green tea on the Tea Guardian chart even suggest 4-5 minute steeping, which at a low enough temperature can work out okay (I’ve tried it), but it definitely makes it harder to avoid the astringency, and you’re only going to get about one steeping, which seems counter to the Gongfu method and is part of why I don’t like the Tea Guardian suggestion for green tea.

I found another website tonight that seemed like a good suggestion. It uses about half the leaf as the Teavivre one, so it’s a little more frugal, though only offers about 2-3 infusions. I had a chance to test this one and it seemed pretty good to me.

Thanks for the input! I appreciate it. I’ve been brewing tea gongfu method most often, but find that it is trickiest with green teas. They are fussy and easy to over/underbrew.

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Yeah it really is down to trial and error. The peonyts sounds good, great for shorter tea sessions or for one person. Though 2 minutes is still longer than I’m used to for a gaiwan, about right for my gongfu teapot though. But yes it’s all down to personal taste.

I hope you find the perfect instructions that fit your tastes :)

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I think that the Tea Guardian steep times are much too long. They may be referring to a gongfu sized teapot rather than a gaiwan. I tend to do 30 seconds steepings and whatever water temp is listed on the vendor’s website. You can always adjust from there if you need to.

At the tea house I manage, we actually don’t brew green tea in a gaiwan at all. We brew it in a glass sharing pitcher, always leaving just enough water to cover the leaves. It’s a Chinese tradition to never let the leaves go dry, they say it kills the flavor :)

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Will said

Using a gaiwan to brew your green tea is entirely appropriate. I think you just need to do what tastes good to you – experiment in terms of tea quantity and water temperature. Generally, compared to oolongs or pu’er, people will use a comparatively small amount of dry leaf by weight when brewing greens, and do fewer infusions.

Some people like to leave a little tea in the gaiwan between infusions.

Drinking straight from the gaiwan would be very appropriate, though it’s also fine to pour out into a drinking cup.

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yyz said

I used this as a guideline at first. Though honestly I usually use less tea than 5g. My Taiwan’s are150-200ml and I use 1.5-2 TSP normally. My first steep is normally 45 s.

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ifjuly said

i would think the guidelines for a kyusu wouldn’t differ too much from those for a gaiwan, in that they’re designed for green teas to be resteeped (NB my gaiwan is a bit on the large size, 5-6oz though, so it’s about what my kyusu is). maybe start there and adjust according to taste? and i agree with the above about how even gongfu style greens seem to usually be recommended with less leaf relatively compared to oolongs or blacks, and fewer resteeps. usually the guidelines i see are anywhere from 140F (for the most delicate japanese greens) to 175F, and under 2 minutes, usually around 30-90 seconds for the first steep though it depends on the specific tea.

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