How to Brew Loose Leaf Tea in a Gaiwan

How to Brew Loose Leaf Tea in a Gaiwan

Brewing with a Gaiwan, the traditional Chinese tea brewing vessel, can seem intimidating, but with a little practice and following the right guidance, it is easy to master.


November 07, 2023


Rishi Tea



The Gaiwan is a traditional Chinese tea brewing vessel comprised of three parts including the lid, bowl, and saucer. Translating literally to “lid and bowl,” the Gaiwan is most often made from porcelain and flourished during the Ming dynasty when loose leaf teas came into fashion. Among tea enthusiasts, the Gaiwan is preferred vessel for appreciating the aromas of fragrant teas.

To prepare tea with a Gaiwan, you will need:

  1. Gaiwan
  2. Waste bowl
  3. Tablespoon
  4. Timer
  5. Serving pitcher
  6. Teacups

Warm Gaiwan


Add freshly boiled water to the gaiwan to pre-warm.

Warm Teacups


Add freshly boiled water to the teacups to pre-warm.



Discard water into waste bowl.

Add Tea


Fill gaiwan 20% full if using ball-rolled tea; 60% full if using twist-rolled tea.

Awaken Leaves & Add Water


For baked oolong and pu’er teas, add fresh hot water to just cover the leaves, then immediately discard. This rinse helps to “warm and smooth” the taste of the tea. After awakening, slowly pour water over rinsed leaves until covered with water, just below the rim of the gaiwan.



Add lid. The water level should rise slightly above the lid to create a seal for locking in aromas. Steep for the recommended infusion time.



Adjust the lid position slightly to create an open space for the infusion to decant. Hold gaiwan bowl using thumb and middle finger on the rim, while securing the lid with index finger. Using a swift motion, tilt gaiwan forward and slightly inward to decant into a serving pitcher.



Pour from serving pitcher into individual teacups.

Stacking Infusions


Stack multiple infusions together in a serving pitcher by repeating the previous steps. You can keep the “root” of the infusion alive in the serving pitcher, and simply add subsequent infusions to that liquid.



Pour a small amount of your stacked infusions into each teacup, alternating from one cup to the next to ensure each cup has equal concentration of flavor.

How to Brew Tea

Rishi Tea & Botanicals includes instruction on how to brew for each of our products, including the brewing method. Generally, brewing instructions with water temperature, steep time, and dosage are found on our packaging. No matter how you plan to brew your tea, check out our brewing guides with videos and step-by-step instructions.