STEEPING TEA IN GAIWAN

This method is also suitable for almost all kinds of tea. A gaiwan (literally a cup with a lid) is a traditional Chinese vessel for steeping and drinking tea. In this case the name speaks for itself: a gaiwan is in fact a 100-250 ml cup with a lid and a saucer.

 

 

A gaiwan is made in the shape of a wide-necked cup, and having taken the lid off one is able to study the aroma of the infusion, admire the delicate leaves or examine the tea’s palette of colors. The tea preparation process begins with the warming up of a gaiwan: boiling water is poured into the empty cup thoroughly rinsing it and simultaneously heating up the vessel as well as the lid (the lid is passed through the boiling water inside the cup in slow rotating motion), after which the cup is emptied. After the gaiwan heating up is complete, the required amount of dry tea leaves is placed into the gaiwan. Then the boiling water is poured into the vessel and, right away, after putting the lid in place, the water is poured out. Thanks to washing off with the boiling water, the leaves get rinsed off, absorb the moisture and are warmed up for better opening up during steeping, which, in turn, allows the tea’s flavor and fragrance develop in their fullness. After the tea leaves are rinsed off, the gaiwan is filled on 1/4-1/3 with boiling water poured counterclockwise; then right away the cup is entirely filled with water with the pot lifted and lowered three times (the three bows of Phoenix method). The tea is left to steep for a few minutes. Drinking the tea from a gaiwan should be performed following certain rules. Women should be drinking holding the cup on the saucer: the saucer is placed in the palm of the left hand, with the thumb and the middle finger of the right hand supporting the gaiwan at the sides, and the index finger pressing at the lid. The infusion is drunk through a small opening purposely left between the lid and the edge of the cup. Men are allowed to just hold the cup (no saucer) using the thumb, the middle and the index finger.