2024 Guide To Brew Tea With Chinese Ceramic Gaiwan

2024 Guide To Brew Tea With Chinese Ceramic Gaiwan

Gaiwan (盖碗)is a traditional Chinese tea set with a cover on top, a bowl in the middle, and a tray on the bottom. It is also known as the "Sancai Bowl" and was popular during the Yongzheng period of the Chinese Qing Dynasty. In ancient China, Gaiwan was mainly used for drinking tea (drinking tea directly from the gaiwan), such as Sichuan "Gaiwan Tea" in China. With the rise of Chinese Kungfu tea, Gaiwan usually be used as a tea set for brewing tea.

What's the difference between brewing tea in a teapot and a Gaiwan?

Anyone well versed in the tea ceremony knows that the taste of tea pays special attention to "observing color, smelling aroma, tasting and viewing shape".

When brewing tea with an ordinary teapot, we cannot directly check the shape and color of the tea, and it is difficult to grasp the concentration of the tea. After pouring hot water, we need to lift the teapot and find a suitable tilt angle to pour the tea.

Due to the different shapes of teapots, we often need a certain amount of time to pour out the tea soup in the teapot completely. If the tea dregs block the spout, it will take extra time, which will cause the tea to soak in the pot. If it is too long, the tea soup will cool down and the aroma will be lost, thus missing the best time to taste tea.

Use Gaiwan To Drink Tea

The shape of the Gaiwan is large at the top and small at the bottom. After placing the tea leaves and pouring hot water, we can directly open the lid of the Gaiwan to observe the shape of the tea leaves and the color of the tea soup. This ingenious design makes it easy to operate and control the process of brewing tea. And compared to the teapot, the large opening design of the Gaiwan is easier to clean.

The benefits of Gaiwan

Making tea in a Gaiwan can quickly pour out the tea soup. When we pour out the tea soup, we could use the gap between the lid and bowl to do it, which can be adjusted manually.  As long as the gap is appropriate, the soup can be poured quickly, and the tea dregs can be filtered out, so there is no problem of clogging the water outlet.

Secondly, the lid of the Gaiwan is a good tool for smelling the aroma of tea and keeping warm. When we make tea with a Gaiwan, the lid prevents the heat from escaping and helps retain the temperature of the tea. After the tea leaves are added to the boiling water and wait a few seconds, and then we can smell the aroma of the tea leaves by picking up the lid.  For tea with a high aroma, it is a very important observation method.  While smelling the fragrance, we can see the tea soup and directly appreciate the stretch of the tea leaves after brewing. We can also make full use of the tea lid to control the concentration of tea soup. If we want the tea soup to be thicker, we can use the tea cover to scrape gently on the water surface, so that the whole bowl of tea is turned up and down, light scraping will make it weak, and heavy scraping will make it thicker.


Most importantly, the Gaiwan is basically suitable for brewing all kinds of tea, allowing us to easily switch between different teas. If you usually like to drink different teas, then Gaiwan is definitely your first choice of tea set. There are many people who like to use purple clay pots to brew tea, but the special double-pore structure of purple clay teapots makes it particularly easy to absorb tea flavor. If you brew a kind of tea with it for a long time, the tea's aroma will remain in the teapot. When you brew different kinds of tea in a purple clay pot, the residual tea flavor in the teapot will mix the aroma of the freshly brewed tea together, which makes it difficult for us to taste the freshly brewed tea. The result of this is that you have to match one kind of tea with one pot.

And if you use a ceramic Gaiwan with a smooth surface, as long as it is cleaned, there will be no tea aroma residue. We only need to make slight adjustments to the tea brewing steps according to the characteristics of different teas. Brewing with a Gaiwan allows tea lovers to experience the ever-changing flavors of tea with each brew, which makes it an excellent tea set for appreciating the nuances of various tea types, such as green, oolong, and white teas.  In Wuyishan City, China, judges usually use ceramic Gaiwan as the tea set for making tea when judging the grade of tea.

Drinking tea with a Gaiwan is a traditional Chinese way of tasting tea, which allows you to fully experience the aroma and taste of tea. Gaiwan is perfect for brewing and tasting all types of tea, especially high-quality loose-leaf tea.

How do you use Chinese Gaiwan?

Here's a step-by-step guide on how to use a Gaiwan to drink tea:

1:Warm Gaiwan With Hot Water

Before using the Gaiwan to make tea, we need to rinse the Gaiwan and teacup with boiling water. The purpose of doing this is to increase the temperature inside the tureen, so as not to be robbed of the water temperature by the tureen when brewing tea, otherwise it will affect the flavor of the tea soup, and also to clean the tea set and remove the odor.

First of all, we need to pour hot water into the bowl and cover it, then pick up the bowl with the right hand, hold the bottom with the left hand, and pour the water into the fair cup. Then pour the hot water from the fair cup into the teacup, hold the teacup with a tea clip, shake the hot water in the cup, and then pour the water out.

Warm Gaiwan With Hot Water

2: Put Tea Leaves Into Gaiwan

We need to put appropriate tea leaves according to the capacity of the Gaiwan. Taking a standard Gaiwan with a capacity of 110 ml as an example, if brewing black and white tea, we only need to put 5 grams of tea leaves. If you choose rock tea, you need 8 grams of tea leaves. Only by controlling the appropriate proportion of tea and water can the best flavor expression be obtained, and the thickness is appropriate.

3: Pour Boiling Water Into Gaiwan

When pouring water, it is best to make the tea rotate in the cup to ensure that each tea leaf can be fully moistened. The water should be poured into two-thirds of the bowl, the highest can not let the water soak into the lid, otherwise, it is easy to heat the hand when pouring tea. The vast majority of tea leaves are suitable for boiling water, and boiling water is advocated. A high enough temperature is conducive to stimulating the aroma of each boiling point in the tea, making the tea fragrant and varied in level.

Pour Boiling Water Into Gaiwan

4: Soak

Use the lid to gently scrape off the foam floating on the surface of the Gaiwan and turn the tea leaves to stretch them out. Then cover the lid and wait 10-15 seconds before pouring out the tea. Adhere to the principle of fast rather than slow, to avoid too long tea taste becomes bitter.

5: Pour Out The Tea Soup

Pick up the tureen with your index finger, middle finger, and thumb. Gently press the middle of the lid with your index finger, grasp the edge of the Gaiwan with your middle finger and thumb together, leaving a gap enough to pour out the tea soup, then quickly tilt the bowl over and pour the tea into a fair cup until the tea is drained completely.

Pour The Tea Soup Into The Cup

6: Pour The Tea Soup Into The Cup

Pour the tea separately into the teacups with a fair cup. When drinking tea, you should first observe its color, then smell its tea aroma, and then slowly taste the tea.

Pour The Tea Soup Into The Cup

How Do You Not Burn Yourself With Gaiwan?

When many people make tea with a Gaiwan for the first time, they often ask how to pour tea with a Gaiwan without burning their hands. In addition to more practice, we also need to focus on correctly using the Gaiwan to pour tea and choosing the Gaiwan that suits us.

There are two commonly used gestures for making tea with a Gaiwan, which is the three-finger method and the bowl-grasping method:

1:Three-finger Method

The three-finger method is to hold the bowl with the thumb, index finger, and middle finger. This technique is suitable for most people to use looks more elegant, and is deeply loved by women.

When pouring tea with a Gaiwan, we need to tilt the lid first, leaving a gap enough to pour out the tea soup, then put the index finger on the lid button, the thumb, and middle finger grasp the sides of the bowl, the ring finger and little finger bend and next to the middle finger. During the whole process, keep your fingers away from the bowl, and then turn the bowl vertically to serve the soup.


Note that the ring finger and little finger cannot be lifted. This kind of holding method needs to find the right position and then practice more.

2:Bowl-grasping Method

The point of this method is to adjust the size of the lid opening first, then press the lid button with your thumb, stick the other fingers to the bottom of the Gaiwan, turn the lid towards you, and then turn the Gaiwan vertically to serve soup. This bowl-grabbing method is easy to operate and can be mastered with one hand. It looks heroic and majestic and is mostly used by men.


How To Choose The Right Gaiwan?

When we make tea with a Gaiwan, we can't avoid coming into contact with hot water. In order to avoid burning ourselves, in addition to mastering the correct way to hold the Gaiwan, we also have to choose the Gaiwan that suits us.

① The material of the Gaiwan

In terms of material, the common materials of the Gaiwan are generally purple sand, porcelain, and glass.  The Gaiwan made of purple sand will absorb the fragrance of tea.  The glass Gaiwan will be lacking in gathering incense, and when used, the glass material is more slippery, and it is easy to burn your hands when handling it. 

Porcelain Gaiwan is glazed after firing, so they are extremely inclusive.  When brewing different teas with ceramic Gaiwna, as long as it is simply cleaned, there will be no odor phenomenon, so the taste of the tea is fully preserved.

Among the ceramic Gaiwan, thin-bodied white porcelain fired at high temperature is the most suitable for making tea. The white color of the white porcelain can reflect the color of the tea soup, making the red color more vivid and the light color brighter, improving the perception. In addition, the heat conduction of the thin tire is fast, it will not absorb the heat of the tea soup, which makes the tea more mellow.

②The capacity of the Gaiwan

When we choose the capacity of the Gaiwan, we must first consider the number of tea drinkers. If 2-3 people drink tea together, choosing a Gaiwan of about 120-150 ml is best. When you use this size bowl to make tea, pour water directly into the waistline, and the tea will come out with just the right shade.

When drinking tea individually, a standard Gaiwan of about 100-110 ml is generally chosen. Here are some tea brewing ratios:

To make black tea, add 5 grams of tea and 100-110 ml of water.
To make white tea, add 5 grams of tea and 100-110 ml of water.
For rock tea, add 8 grams of tea and 100-110 ml of water.

In addition to focusing on the capacity, we also have to choose a tureen that fits the size of our palms. Men's hands are more extensive than women's, so men can choose larger Gaiwan with a capacity of 150-300 ml, while women can choose smaller tea sets with a total of 80-150 ml.

③Type of Gaiwan

A good type of Gaiwan should be full and round, and the bowl body should have a certain arc. If the cup body of the Gaiwan extends in a straight line, the distance between the cup mouth and the boiling water is closer. When we hold the top of the cup, it burns. With the curved design, the heat will be reduced, and when we hold the bowl, it will not be burned.


At the same time, we have to choose a Gaiwan that suits us. Girls' wrist strength is small, if you buy a large and heavy bowl, after filling it with water to make tea, the heavy Gaiwan will become even heavier. When we pick up the bowl, our hands are easy to sour, which will inevitably slow down the speed of our pouring tea, resulting in the tea being soaked for too long, and the tea taste is dull and bitter.

People with slightly short fingers are not suitable for buying a wide-lidded bowl. Wide Gaiwan makes it hard for our fingers to grasp both sides and even if we can barely hold them, it's hard for our fingers to hold down the lid. When we pour the tea soup, the tureen will tilt slightly and the lid will slip, and it may fall off the table.

For most people, the "inverted bell-shaped" tureen is easier to master.

④Rim of Gaiwan

When choosing the rim of the Gaiwan, we should consider two points: anti-scalding and smooth soup delivery. It is recommended to choose a Gaiwan with a wider rim and a slightly curved edge.

We usually use the "three-finger"  method to pour tea with a Gaiwan, where the point we hold is on the rim of the bowl. The wider edge of the bowl can separate the heat of the bowl body, and it is more conducive to keeping our fingers away from the hot water. At the same time, a wider bowl rim makes it easier to dispense tea soup. 


At the same time, don’t choose a bowl rim design that’s too complicated or ornate. For example, petal-shaped, sunflower-shaped, and wavy bowl rims can easily "divert" the tea soup during the process of pouring the tea soup, affecting the smoothness of the tea soup pouring.

⑤Lid button for Gaiwan

It is recommended to choose a slightly taller lid button with a concave center. The lid button is higher to prevent us from being burned when fixing and covering the lid. At the same time, after pouring out the tea soup, it is convenient for us to open the lid and smell the aroma. The concave lid button makes it easier to fix the lid when the lid is serving soup and prevents it from slipping off.

Lid button for Gaiwan

⑥The thickness of the bowl wall of the Gaiwan

We need to choose a Gaiwan with a thinner bowl wall to avoid burning our hands. Some people may say that we should choose thick materials to insulate from heat, but in the actual process of brewing tea, we generally do not touch the bowl body when using the tureen. At this time, whether the bowl is thick or not, it cannot play the role of heat insulation. On the contrary, the bowl is thick and when boiling water is poured in, the heat will not easily dissipate in a short period, making it very hot. In addition, the tureen with a thick wall is heavier overall and is not easy to operate, which is not conducive to the movements when making tea. If you make a mistake when making soup, it will be more likely to burn your hands. Therefore, choose a tureen with a thinner bowl wall, which is more lightweight and practical.

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