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Brew Tea in Gaiwan

How to brew tea in a gaiwan?

pour water gain

What you'll need

  • Tea
  • Gaiwan (~3.5 oz of water)
  • Scale
  • A pitcher and teacups for sharing OR a large mug to enjoy solo

Brew time

1 - 2 minutes (depending on the tea and personal taste). You can re-steep the tea leaves for at least 2-3 more times, so don't discard the leaves right after the first infusion.

Step by step

There is nothing better than a homemade cup of tea. 

Gaiwan (蓋碗), a lidded bowl without a handle, is used to brew loose and (preferably) whole leaf teas. It is one of the most versatile teaware passed down since Ming Dynasty of China. 

Most Gaiwans are made out of porcelain, a material suitable for brewing green, greener oolongs, and white teas, where the recommended brewing temperature is lower. 

One benefit of using a Gaiwan is that you can easily examine the tea leaves through each infusions, watching it unfurl and expand. Gaiwan can be used as a tea brewing vessel as well as a drinking vessel by drinking directly from the bowl and strain the leaves with the lid, or one's front teeth.

In this guide we are brewing our Baozhong oolong tea, which has a twisted leaf shape. Twisted leaf tea (Baozhong or Jade Rouge) steeps faster than rolled leaf tea (Frozen Summit) so the brewing time should be closer to 1 minute instead of 2. With the ratio we provided (4 grams of tea and 3.5oz of water), we suggest 3 steepings using the same tea leaves, though feel free adjust pending on your taste. We recommend completing all your steepings within the day. Our suggested steeping time can vary by tea, though don't be shy to experiment. Try and see what works for your palate.


Step 1 

Weigh out 4 grams of tea.

gaiwan brewing guide measure tea


Step 2

Use hot water (195, 200 or 212 degree F) to rinse your gaiwan. This is the same temperature you will use to brew the tea. Heating the gaiwan to your intended brewing temperature will allow more precise brewing temperature. Please refer to individual tea pages for suggested brewing temperature by tea.

warming gaiwan hot water 


Step 3

Pour out the water. Add the loose leaf tea to your gaiwan.

tea leaves hot gaiwan


Step 4

Add water to your tea. Generically, the water should be lower (~195 degrees F) for twisted tea leaves and higher (~212 degrees F) for tightly rolled tea leaves. Please refer to individual tea pages for suggested brewing temperature by tea.

hot water over tea leaves


Step 5

Make sure the tea leaves are wet evenly, use the gaiwan lid to stir the tea leaves.

use gaiwan lid stir tea leaves gaiwan lid stir tea leaves


Step 6

Let the tea brew for 1 minute. For tightly rolled tea leaves we prefer a longer steeping time of 2 minutes. Use this time to heat up the pitcher and teacups.

gaiwan steeping tea


Step 7

To get ready to decant, tilt the gaiwan lid very gently until there is a sliver of opening to the rim of the bowl, then press down the lid with the index finger to hold the lid in place. Then, hold each side of the gaiwan with the thumb on one side and middle and ring fingers on the other.

holding gaiwan lid finger


Step 8

When the steeping time is up, pick up the gaiwan and pour the tea into a pitcher or a mug. Make sure all the liquid is drained from the gaiwan. That way the tea doesn't over brew and become bitter when you go back for subsequent steepings. To make sure no small tea residue in your brew, consider using a fine mesh tea strainer.

 gaiwan pouring tea out


Step 9

Pour your tea into your cups and enjoy!

pitcher pouring tea cup


Step 10

Re-Steep the tea as many times as you fancy. We recommend three in total for this tea to water ratio. To re-steep simply add more water. The second steep's suggested brewing time is the same as the first and the third should be 1-2 minutes longer.

brewed tea leaves in gaiwan




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