Saturday, February 23, 2013

Teacups - Gaiwan part 3

The gaiwan or 'Zhong" is a brewing bowl as well a drinking vessel.
It is literally a "Lidded Bowl."
The components to this has a lid, saucer and a bowl.
In some gaiwan sets a tea strainer made of porcelain comes as an inset.
There are also gaiwan sets that include cups and makes an excellent traveling companion.

The capacity of a gaiwan is usually between 4 to 6 ounces without tea leaves and would yield brewed tea in the amount of 3 to 4 ounces. 
The larger gaiwans are used for steeping tea and the smaller ones are used as drinking vessels for the individual.

Most gaiwans are usually made of ceramic or porcelain.
This allows for the vessel to be used with any tea preferred and will not absorb the odor of the specific tea.
An excellent vessel for testing and using with new teas or even scented teas.
The northern Chinese prefer to use the gaiwan to steep scented teas.
The gaiwan (covered bowl) also goes by other names Gai bei (covered cup), Ju zhong ( brewing cup).
Because porcelain loses heat quickly oolong and green teas are best steeped in gaiwans as these teas along with scented teas respond best to lower temperatures.

Gaiwans traditionally have no handles and it takes an experienced person to handle the hot steeping cup. 
Although, these vessels are beginning to take an evolution over the last few years.
The brewing vessels are being designed with spouts and handles with treading around them for added insulation.

purple clay contemporary ju zhong

ju zhong with a metal strainer

Celadon ju zhong

porcelain ju zhong


 Handling the gaiwan

 Be extra careful when usng these vessels. 
It takes skill and tolerance to high heat for ease of handling. 
When drinking from a gaiwan, the tea is sipped through the narrow gap between the lid that is angled and the rim of the cup.
Handling the gaiwan is done by balancing on one hand while the other hand tilts the lid over the top of the bowl to restrain the leaves.

See the following for further information on Steeping tea in a Gaiwan.

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