Saturday, January 03, 2009

Gaiwan: Drinking Cup and or Brewing Cup

Are there differences between a Gaiwan “Drinking” cup and a Gaiwan Brewing” cup ?

My personal experience and observations lead me to conclude: “Yes Virginia, there is a difference” The variations that demonstrate (to me) that distinction.

The Drinking Cup: Used as a personal: covered (with the lid) drinking vessel, that also contains a share of tea leaves.

The Brewing Cup: Used to contain a share of tea that will be infused, and decanted into either a drinking cup or a Common Pouring Jug. Serving a similar purpose as a: Tea Pot.

Both Gaiwan types are made of three parts: Base, Body, and Lid. The: Base and Body serve similar functions in both applications.

The Base provides: Aesthetics, Thermal insulation when held in the hand. Most often this is not used in commercial tea houses. Body: Contain Leaves and Water .. The subtle shape of the top third and interaction with the lid that separates the functions (Drinking vs. Brewing Gaiwan)

The Lid is where I see the first distinctive difference, a second a major functional difference is in the interplay between Lid and Body mouth.

The Drinking Cup Lid: function is to filter/ hold back the leaves when in use, and to cover the tea and maintain heat when temporally set aside. First visual difference is: a small vent hole. (see above) As the drinking cup lid will cover the hot liquid for some time, this vent purpose is self evident.

The Brewing Cup Lid: may or may not have a vent hole, by function it is not required. The interplay between the Lid and Body Opening is where I see the greater distinction of uses.When buying a Gaiwan as a Brewing Cup it is imperative you test its function in the shop. This is easy in China/HK/Taiwan .. so good luck in your particular local ..What is required in the Brewing cup is: Lid/Body combinations that provide a nice opening to dispense tea without having a large opening in the rear that can let HOT vapors caress your unsuspecting palm, when dispensing into the pouring jug.

Mrs Yang at work:

You can see in the 2nd video the large gap in back of the Gaiwan, and poses no threat to the experienced server.

In this day and age I see the use of a Gaiwan as a drinking cup, relegated to scenes in period movies, however one style can provide the services of the other

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