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Traditional wide gaiwan made with a blend of 9 clays and glazed with a speckled sky blue.
9 blended Chinese clays glazed with a soft speckled sky blue.
Nothing speaks of traditional tea brewing like a Gaiwan (蓋碗 Gàiwǎn). This tea brewing device is versatile and elegant with its roots reaching back to the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). Its versatility is due to the use of porcelain and its ability to not carry scents or flavors from the various teas brewed in it. Gaiwans have traditionally been used for green tea and white teas because they do not affect the lighter and subtle flavors or fresher teas.
The gaiwan can also be used as a cup to drink the tea from and not just a brewing instrument. In China it is common to see people sipping their green tea from a gaiwan with the lid still on as a means to hold back the tea leaves. When the gaiwan is used as a drinking device all three of its parts are used, the lid, cup and saucer. The lid has multiple functions. It can be used to keep the water warm and as a strainer when pouring and drinking to hold back the leaves. The cup is used for brewing and drinking and the saucer is used for holding the gaiwan if it is hot or for setting it down.
The use of a gaiwan is related to Gongfu tea service which roughly translates as “skilled” tea service. The reason that “gongfu” tea service has the notion of skilled is that the preparation requires focus and attention to detail requiring a degree of skilled action. The use of a gaiwan is not difficult but does require skill in that the upper lid is used as a filter for the tea leaves when poured. What makes a gaiwan more or less difficult is the flare of the lip on the cup. The wider the flare of the lip of the cup the easier it is to hold, use and pour. The lip cannot be too wide which would make it difficult to handle with one hand, which is how gaiwans are traditionally poured. We looked for gaiwans that are beautiful and easy to use, all three of the handcrafted gaiwans that we have sourced from China meet this criteria.