Since I Never Formally Introduced My Gaiwan…


Written by:

There are a couple of moments during my tea journey that forever changed the way I experienced tea. The first was circa 2009 when I randomly asked for a tea kettle and tea for Christmas. I was a heavy coffee-drinker during this time in my life (because college), so I must have wanted one just for aesthetics. But, when I received a shiny, red stovetop tea kettle and some Celestial Seasonings fruit tisanes for Christmas, I immediately became obsessed.

The second was when I discovered Adagio Teas, which would have been circa 2012. They made better tea more accessible and less intimidating when I was ready to step out of the grocery store aisles. And clearly, my love and sentimental attachment to the brand has never waned.

The third was when I discovered the Tea Leaf Project on YouTube as well as the tea community on Instagram, circa 2018. They inspired me to become more active in the tea community, and they challenged me to step out of my comfort zone to drink things I had never heard of.

The fourth, and most recent moment, was when I started brewing with my gaiwan. This blue-and-white, rice-patterned, 120mL beaut comes from CraftedLeaf Teas, a vendor I’m only slightly obsessed with right now because they also introduced me to unsmoked Lapsang Souchong.

It makes me a little braver

I know this may sound silly, but there are teas that I find downright intimidating— largely puerhs, anything (intentionally) aged, or anything compressed into coins or cakes or tiny tea mountains. In my mind, these are the teas for people who know what they’re talking about when they talk about tea (ie. not me). I challenge myself to drink these teas anyway even though sometimes I feel like an imposter. And, because of my gaiwan (and the encouragement of others in the tea community), I think I’ve explored more tea in the past four months than I have in the past decade!

It makes me slow down.

When I brew tea Western-style, I plop an infuser and tea leaves in my cup, and most of the time I’m lucky I don’t get too distracted by working or baby-wrangling that I end up with an over-steeped cup. It’s how I prepare my tea when I’m attempting to be productive or just trying to infuse my bloodstream with caffeine because #momfuel.

When I brew tea with my gaiwan though, I slow down. Like, way, way down. I weigh, observe, and smell the dry tea leaves. I slide them into the warm gaiwan and give them a shake to release more fragrances that I would have missed otherwise. And then I start steeping, taking breaks between each infusion to smell both the lid and the wet leaves, to note the color of the liquor, and of course to taste the tea. These sessions easily last an hour, sometimes longer if Oliver is preoccupied enough by puzzles and books. Okay…fine…and Sesame Street; let’s be real and transparent here. Practicing with my gaiwan becomes almost meditative– a lesson in being present and in mindfulness, where I drink tea with all of my senses.

It lets me taste tea in ways I’ve never tasted it before

Shou puerhs, which previously tasted funky and like how the animal pens at the county farm smelled, suddenly tasted like petrichor and baked bread and the vanilla-smell of old books. Bi Luo Chun, which (dare I say it) I was largely indifferent towards, revealed layers of honeysuckle florals, a delicate nuttiness, and buttery edamame. Mi Lan Dancong, which had always been an interesting blend of malt and floral, suddenly tasted like a spoonful of honey in early infusions. And, don’t even get me started on the Jin Jun Mei I tried for the first time a few weeks ago– honey, malt, cocoa, honeydew melon, and grapes all packed in one tea. How?!

My love for this vessel was immediate. And although I am still a novice at practicing gongfu cha (or drinking tea, in general), I am now one of those people who always encourages others who are showing interest in using a gaiwan for the first time. (Do iiiiiiit!)

What are some of the tea experiences in your life that greatly impacted your relationship with tea?

5 responses to “Since I Never Formally Introduced My Gaiwan…”

  1. Katie Avatar

    That is so gorgeous! I’ve never seen or heard of a gaiwan before – thank you for teaching me about it!


  2. onemansteajourney Avatar

    My first gaiwan and subsequent dive into gong fu brewing definitely took my tea drinking to the next level!


  3. Anika May Avatar
    Anika May

    I absolutely love the intricate design, how pretty! I’m a tea drinker but I’ve never heard of a gaiwan so this is such an interesting post for me. I love how it’s deepened your appreciate for tea!

    Anika |


  4. Emily Clare Avatar
    Emily Clare

    I need to start being more adventurous with teas!


  5. TeaIsAWishBlog Avatar

    It’s such a beautiful gaiwan! I’ve been looking for one like this for a long time but nowhere in the UK seems to sell them. I have a glass one and a blue and white porcelain one but my health problems stop me from being able to get them out and do proper tasting sessions through the day with teas I know are just made for gongfu. Hopefully one day I’ll be able to get back to doing tasting sessions like that.


Leave a Reply to onemansteajourney Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


Hello, my name is Jackie. I’m a thirty-something mother of a rambunctious toddler from a small town in Michigan. When I’m not toddler-wrangling, I’m often seeking refuge from life’s most chaotic moments in a cup of hot tea. I also love getting lost in stories—both in books and virtually. I enjoy speculative fiction the most, and I am especially eager to read fantasy novels and horror novels. When I’m feeling especially indulgent (usually after everyone in the house has gone to sleep), I like to dive into video games and explore the sprawling worlds in Fallout, Elder Scrolls, Dragon Age, and Mass Effect.

%d bloggers like this: