Shadow Carved Gaiwan

150 mL

A small classic white gaiwan with a subtle intaglio carving of a lotus and dragonfly that reveals itself when filled with dark tea or lit from above.

$28.00 $22.40

2 in stock


The subtle intaglio carving of a blooming lotus and dragonfly in the side of this small gaiwan reveals itself when filled with dark tea or lit from above. This gaiwan is a classic simple white with thin gold line detail on the rims and foot. It makes an excellent service set with a pair of our matching Shadow Carved Cups. Note: this style of gaiwan does not include a saucer.

According to legend, the gaiwan was invented in Sichuan during the Tang Dynasty between 780-783. The daughter of Xi Shuan Jie Du Shu, a general, invented the first gaiwan because in the Tang Dynasty, most tea was served in bowls. She would always burn her fingers when she tried to hold the bowl, so she decided to use a wooden circle sealed with wax to hold the tea bowl in place. Later, they used paint to stick the cup to the wood. Eventually, they would indent pieces of wood so the gaiwan would stay stable, eventually adding a lid to keep it warm and the aroma close to the tea. Gaiwans are also named “san cai bei” which means three piece treasure cup. Even now, Sichuan mainly uses gaiwans for tea service. They can range from being small and delicate to a large size like rice bowls. Sichuan is where tea culture was birthed, and these cups and other traditionals eventually spilled in to other tea regions.

Gaiwans are very useful. You can use them to drink tea by yourself, or your can pour the tea from the gaiwan into a pitcher and serve the tea to friends. In Sichuan, they have five steps for using a gaiwan. Use hot water to wash the tea bowl, tea leaves and bottom part to warm up and clean the gaiwan. Add about 3-5 grams of tea. Pour hot water from one point on the side of the gaiwan, instead of straight in. This will help stir the tea leaves. Infuse about 3-5 minutes, depending on how strong you like your tea. If you are right handed, hold the bottom with your left hand and open the lid with your right hand to smell the aroma. Use the lid to sweep back the tea leaves a few times to bring the stronger flavor from the bottom to mix with the lighter flavored tea on top. Sip from the open space. Using a gaiwan is a very calm and soothing way to drink tea, gently moving the tea leaves inside the gaiwan.