What is Gaiwan? – Olivais

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What is Gaiwan?


The Gaiwan (Mandarin for covered cup, "zhong" or “cha chung" in Cantonese) (Chinese Covered Cup) has been used in China since about 1350. It consists of saucer, bowl, and lid which are designed to be used together. To brew black or oolong tea in the traditional Chinese fashion, first place the tea in the bottom of the Gaiwan. Pour in enough boiling water to come just under halfway up the cup and immediately drain off by holding the cup and saucer together and using the lid as a strainer to hold back the leaves. Now uncover the leaves and inhale the aroma from the "rinsed" leaves. If brewing green tea, omit this first step and proceed directly to the next stage.

Next, pour fresh boiling water into the Gaiwan, not directly on to the leaves but down the inside of the cup to set the leaves swirling in the bottom. For green tea, leave the cup uncovered, infuse for two or three minutes, and then drink. For black or oolong tea, cover the cup with the lid and leave to infuse for the required number of minutes (see individual entries in the directory).

To drink from the Gaiwan, hold the saucer in the palm of the right hand, using the thumb to steady the cup. With your left hand, lift the lid by the knob, tilting it slightly away from you so that it holds back the leaves while you sip the liquor. Before drinking all the liquor, add more hot water, again down the inside of the cup rather than directly on to the leaves, to draw out more of the tea's flavor. A third addition of water may be made directly on to the leaves. Go on drinking and adding more water as many times as yields a good flavor from the leaves.

Gaiwan (Tureen) is a tea device with cover on the top, tray on the bottom, and bowl in the middle. Cover, bowl, and tray are symbols of "Heaven, Earth," and "God", so the tureen, also known as the "three powers bowl", "three-power cup". Mr. Lu Xun in his article Drinking Tea wrote: "If you want to drink nice tea, use the tureen. Sure enough, brew a tea in the tureen, the tea is clear and sweet, with slightly bitter fragrant, indeed a good tea."


Gaiwan (Tureen) is used to brew tea or drink tea. So it has the function of pot and bowl. It can keep the tea warm as well as adjust the solubility of tea.


Gaiwan (Tureen) is mainly made of purple sand, porcelain, glass texture and so on, but various colors of porcelain tureen are the majority.

Wise selection

Size Gaiwan (Tureen) volume in tea brewing plays a very important role. 6 grams of tea should be in a tureen with the capacity of 90 ml water; 7 grams of tea, 110 ml water; and 8 grams of tea, 130 ml water. Workmanship level Qualified tureen has the character: contour lines are standard, square, perfect circle, ellipse, etc. Do not buy the non-standard tureen.

Thick and thin tires

Mostly high quality Gaiwans (Tureens) are thin, because thin tires are less endothermic in brewing, the temperature will be higher to tea, which can inspire more fragrance.

Eversion of the mouth of the Gaiwan (Tureen)

When select the tureen, pay attention to the eversion of the mouth, usually a tureen with a larger extent is better, which is good for the picking, avoiding burning your hand in brewing.


1 When use the tureen, the three parts should no be used separately, or it will affect the aesthetic, and it is also rude.

2 In drinking tea, one hand should hold up the tea tray, and the other hand opens the cover, smell the cover fragrant first. Then scuff tea with the cover, put the cover a little tilt, and drink slowly.

For those people who love to drink tea for a long time, only know something about tea ware, he could make a cup of good tea. And as following we will introduce an important part in it-----"Gaiwan"


A story is going around that the "Gaiwan" was invented in Tang Dynasty of TangZongJianZhong. At that time, the tea cup without substrate is very hot. So wooden tray was invented to place a tea cup. But it is very easy to slip. So the people who love tea try to use wax fixing the glass. What is we called the earliest tea boat. And later, the bottom ring made by wax has been done more and more novel and beautiful.


"Gaiwan" also called "Three bowl", "Three cup". Just as its name implies, it is a kind of Han Chinese tea set, which has teapot on top, saucer down below and teacup in the middle. For Chinese people, teapot is for sky, saucer for earth and the teacup for people, all of which implies the unity of nature and mankind. When you try to taste tea, please pay attention to the thing that the tea pot, bowl, and cup should not be used separately, otherwise, you will leave a feeling of impolite to others.


According to the production of raw materials is different, the "Gaiwan" can be roughly divided into three categories: White porcelain, Ru kiln and Blue and white porcelain "Gaiwan". The cheaper one is white porcelain Gaiwan, which is very suitable for general people in common. And Ru kiln Gaiwan is more suitable for local lord, and it is inevitably the best choice for all bosses. Although the structure of Gaiwan is very simple, in contrast, its crafts are more demanding. It is very difficult to produce as the Gaiwan need to made matching exactly, and its hand-painted need to be more elegant.


In fact, in the early time, Gaiwan is used in personal. That is blending with brewing and drinking. Using Gaiwan to drink tea is the most popular way in Qing dynasty. And then it was used as teapot. As it is easier to observe the color of tea water and clean up than teapot. Thus, the Gaiwan developed into the utensil for brewing tea, matching with handleless cup and cup became another form of tea ware combination.


The biggest advantage of using Gaiwan to brew tea is that it is suitable for any kind of tea, not same as glass is only suitable for green tea, but not for any other tea. And dark-red enameled pottery should not be recommended for bubbling green tea. A passage in Taste Tea written by LuXun, "If you want to enjoy the special aroma of tea, the best is to use Gaiwan to bubble tea. And then we try it. As expected, after brewing, the color of tea water is pure and taste slight sweet mix with a little bitter. It is do a good tea." From this, even Mr. LuXun the outstanding Chinese writer is also prefer to using Gaiwan to bubble tea. So, no matter from tea appreciation, or from the perspective of health care, Gaiwan is inevitably the better choice for you.

The gaiwan, also known as the Sancai bei, Chazhan or Covered bowl, is often used as a substitute teapot. It also can be used as a tea cup. It is normally used for brewing scented tea.

Gaiwan is the preferred method for brewing green and white tea because the gaiwan's porcelain absorbs the heat and does not damage the tea soup. Gaiwans are less suitable for black tea because the large lid allows heat to escape too quickly during the brewing process.