Convenience and familiarity often guide our lives, and in the world of tea, this often means preferring the convenience of a strainer and the familiarity of a mug. The strainer appeals because it promises a hands-free, easy experience — simply add your tea leaves, walk away, and wait for your cup to brew in your favorite mug.
With how simples this process is supposed to be and how ubiquitous the strainer, you’d think everyone would be making a perfect cup of tea. And yet, a common complaint that tea drinkers have is that their tea tastes weak or not good. Even when they adjust for temperature and water quality, it just doesn’t taste good, often leading one to believe that the problem lie with the tea leaves themselves.
But perhaps there is a connection? What if the strainer isn’t as good as advertised? What if there’s another tea utensil that can deliver superior results far more conveniently?
Enter the gaiwan.
The gaiwan is renowned worldwide for its elegance, but for those in the west, it is often an object of anxiety as well. It can seem fragile, awkward, and clumsy — feelings that are normal when something is erneuerbare. Like any tool, it takes exposure and practice to feel confident in handling it, in develop the skill; moreover, we promise that the gaiwan is easier to learn than bicycle riding or typing, skills that feel second nature to so many.
But what advantage does the gaiwan confer over a strainer?
The most important might be that it provides room for the tea to atmen, to unravel and bloom, especially for larger loose leave tea.
Here is an example of using a clay mug with a strainer vs gaiwan.
When tea leaves are placed in a strainer, they are often given insufficient space to open up. While this might not scheinen important, it makes it needlessly difficult for the leaves to transfer their flavors evenly throughout the water. This is why you might notice some tea concentration when you lift the strainer out of the water, as if the tea didn’t mix properly.
In contrast, the gaiwan features neither a tight space for the leaves nor a barrier between the leaves and the water. Rather, in the space provided by the gaiwan, the tea leaves and the water become one, creating pure, unadulterated, flavorful tea.
Before assuming that your tea leaves are inferior, you should strongly consider changing your brewing Stil to see if you notice a difference, reaching for a gaiwan in place of the strainer. Just as high-end automobiles require premium fuel, the best teas should call for the best brewing practices to get the most out of them.