The simplicity of the gaiwan

5 May 2023
The simplicity of the gaiwan

Apart from the tasting set, which is sometimes used by professionals, there are different ways of brewing tea. In China there is the zhong or gaiwan; in Japan the shiboridashi or kyusu. In the West, the most commonly used vessel is the teapot. But why not explore lesser known objects? Today, I would like to talk to you about the gaiwan. It’s a very simple thing, consisting of a kind of bowl with a lid. Let’s take a look at it from the outside while the tea is brewing inside. The beauty of the gaiwan lies in its radical simplicity. What is the principle of brewing tea? It involves bringing the tea leaves into contact with water. As the leaves unfurl, they release their aromas and other elements. I can’t think of a better place to brew tea leaves than in this remarkable object. I could show you the inside of the gaiwan right now, but I’d rather wait. What I enjoy most while my tea is brewing is appreciating the vessel in which it’s brewing: its colour, the way the changing light plays on its surface, its material. I observe the roughness of the clay and my contemplation transports me to distant landscapes. This gaiwan was made in the Périgord region of France by a talented ceramist, Manon Clouzeau. Let’s have another look at our tea brewing under this delicate lid, which is so easy to hold. I’ll leave you to look at it and will see you soon. Next week, I’ll take the lid off.

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