While many people recommend using a gaiwan to brew oolong tea or to evaluate a new black tea or pu’er, you can also use a gaiwan to brew your favorite green teas. The unporous porcelain of traditional gaiwans make them a wonderful brewing method for any kind of tea.  As long as you take care with your water temperature and brewing time, brewing green tea in a gaiwan is a great way to enjoy multiple steepings back-to-back while appreciating your tea’s flavor and aroma.

You will need:
– a gaiwan
– your favorite  loose leaf green tea
– water at 175°
– a sharing pitcher
– (optional) strainer
– small gongfu tea cups

Step One: Boil Your Water to 175°

First, boil fresh filtered water to 175°.  We recommend using spring water or filtered tap water, as overly hard water or distilled water can make your teas taste flat.  If you do not have a temperature controlled water boiler or a handy thermometer, you can always bring your water to a full boil, and then let it cool.  You can speed up this cooling process by pouring your water from a height and then tossing the water back and forth between two glasses.

Step Two: Measure Your Loose Leaf Tea

Next, add your loose leaf to your empty gaiwan.  You do not have to heat your gaiwan before adding your green tea.

We recommend using 5-7g of tea in a medium gaiwan (usually 5-6 oz capacity).  For a curled green tea like Laoshan Green, 5 grams fills a generous heaped tablespoon, plus a heaped teaspoon.  For flat pressed green teas like Mrs. Li’s Shi Feng Dragonwell, 5 grams fills about 2 tablespoons.

4-grams_LSGreenSIDE 4-grams_LSGreen

Step Three (optional): Brew the Wash Steeping

Avoid pouring your water directly onto the tea leaves.  Instead, try to first pour along the sides of gaiwan.  Once your leaves are covered with water, pour out directly through a strainer into the sharing pitcher.  Pour out this first steeping, or use the wash to heat your tea cups.

With fine green tea, especially spring green tea, you can enjoy the very first steeping.  This is a matter of taste and personal preference, so try it for yourself a few times to see what you like best.

Step Four: First Steeping

Steep uncovered for just a few seconds.  Covering your green tea as it steeps can trap steam, raising the water temperature and scalding the leaves to create a bitter taste.

After just a few seconds, pour out into your second glass through a strainer into the sharing pitcher.  Enjoy your tea from your gongfu cups or small tea cups – you and your guests can share and appreciate the tea’s nuanced flavor and aftertaste.

If you are brewing flat pressed green tea like Mrs. Li’s Shi Feng Dragonwell, do not pour out the entire steeping; leave enough water to just cover the leaves. If the leaves sit exposed to the air between steepings, the leaves will begin to interact with the air and your later brews will be less flavorful and more bitter.

Step Five: Resteep

Resteep many times, increasing the steep time by a few seconds or to taste.  Usually, you should expect three steepings out of your green tea, though many like Laoshan Green tea can have much longer brewing arcs.