Gaiwan (and tea): The Mandarin's Tearoom (with pictures!)


Member reiviews of teaware related products.

Gaiwan (and tea): The Mandarin's Tearoom (with pictures!)

Postby Geekgirl » Jun 26th, '10, 19:45

{Tea AND gaiwan review here, because it looks like there's no tea topic for TMT in the vendor guide (?).}

There’s a particular floral aroma that I associate with mixed bouquets sold by street vendors with those little flower carts. It’s a mixture of exotic lilies and local wildflowers. Some of the loveliest green oolongs I’ve tasted have had this characteristic scent. It carries over into the taste, but is most noticeable on the freshly shock rinsed tea.

This tea: Anxi “Classic” Ti kwan yin, a Fall 2009 tightly rolled offering, releases this unique aroma upon opening the packaging. Poured out into a dish, the dry tea scents the air for several feet around. I’ve noted this on several occasions with very fine teas and am pleased to encounter it again.

Following a flash rinse, the aroma deepens to something reminiscent of iris or fragrant fuscia. I let the rinsed leaves sit for a minute or two, to begin opening, then start the first steep. On recommendation, I use a lower temperature water than I am accustomed for TKY and other oolongs. Generally I brew at just off-boil. Today, I’m using 180deg steeps.

The first steep, just 5 seconds, is very pale and very fragrant, with hints of honey and windfallen overripe apricots. After allowing the tea to rest again, the 2nd and third brews exhibit more of the characteristic yellow coloration, but still quite pale. After allowing the tea to rest again, the leaves have unfurled more than anticipated. I set aside half of the leaves for later, and once again learn the volumetric lesson that tightly rolled oolong can and will push the lid right off your gaiwan. Around the 5th or 6th steep, I notice just a tiny bit of astringency in the throat, but this disappears with subsequent steeps.

I’ll let the pictures speak:

Image
Image
Image
Image

As of this afternoon, I’ve steeped around a dozen times, and this tea still is producing a flavorful brew. I suspect I’ll quit before it will, and note that it has foiled my plans to sample more than one type of tea today. I’m not complaining.

The gaiwan and tasting cup are also from The Mandarin’s Tearoom, the gaiwan is a very nice and moderately thin* bone china, handpainted with a dragon and phoenix motif. The tiny cups have writing on them, and a painted mountain, weeping tree and little boat. The cups are so thin they light up the tea. Though it is relatively easy to find decent gaiwan (china and porcelain being so common,) at inexpensive (even cheap!) prices, this set at $52 seems like a reasonable addition to my little collection, even if it is quite a bit more expensive than others I've purchased. It's clearly of good quality, balanced and well-designed.

* transparency comparison of 3 gaiwan, same capacity. These gaiwan all feel of a similar thinness, and the weight bears this out at 74g, 72g, 69g. I believe the weight difference comes in due to foot thickness, with the all-white lightweight also having a very small and thin foot. The two "porcelain" gaiwan display much more transparency, though they seem to be of similar dimensions and heft.

Interestingly, it is difficult to find any definitive information regarding the differences between “bone china” and porcelain. It seems that true bone china used bone ash to strengthen the clay, whereas porcelain traditionally did not. This resulted in “china” being more of a pure white than porcelain. However, modern porcelain methods use calcium carbonate, the important strengthening ingredient, thus most modern porcelain is actually “bone” china. Modern porcelain is usually snow white - making it virtually indistinguishable from modern “bone china.” In wares older than 60 or 70 years, the difference is far more obvious.

Image
Image
Image
User avatar
Geekgirl
 
Posts: 2700
Joined: May 31st, '
Location: Portland, OR

Re: Gaiwan (and tea): The Mandarin's Tearoom (with pictures!)

Postby Geekgirl » Jun 27th, '10, 19:28

Would like to add that in using this gaiwan for the last two days, it had jumped up into my #1 "favorite" spot for gaiwan. :) Good stuff! I love this thing! It's the perfect size, no finger burning and it pours great.
User avatar
Geekgirl
 
Posts: 2700
Joined: May 31st, '
Location: Portland, OR

Re: Gaiwan (and tea): The Mandarin's Tearoom (with pictures!)

Postby NOESIS » Oct 25th, '10, 14:43

I finally ordered this set. As you noted, its the perfect size and has an excellent design. Can't wait to give it a test run. :mrgreen:

Edit: Received it a few weeks ago, and its now my go-to gaiwan.
Last edited by NOESIS on Nov 21st, '10, 14:11, edited 1 time in total.
NOESIS
 
Posts: 364
Joined: Dec 29th, '
Location: Nor Cal

Re: Gaiwan (and tea): The Mandarin's Tearoom (with pictures!)

Postby David R. » Oct 25th, '10, 15:44

Wonderful review. Thanks.
User avatar
David R.
 
Posts: 1112
Joined: Oct 6th, '0
Location: France

Re: Gaiwan (and tea): The Mandarin's Tearoom (with pictures!)

Postby deftea » Mar 31st, '11, 20:07

Geek Girl, do you mind telling us where you got the OTHER gaiwan, the top one of the trio. You and Tea Nerd seem to have got the last two on earth.
User avatar
deftea
 
Posts: 6
Joined: Jan 23rd, '

Re: Gaiwan (and tea): The Mandarin's Tearoom (with pictures!)

Postby Geekgirl » Apr 1st, '11, 23:09

Hmmm... Tea Nerd might have gotten his from me. I can't remember, but I sent one to somebody on this forum. It's from a local teashop. It's mass produced and very very cheap. I'm not sure why they can't be found just about anywhere you can buy teawares, but I've only ever seen them in this one shop. I probably shouldn't tell you that I've never seen less than 25-30 of these in stock. :mrgreen:
User avatar
Geekgirl
 
Posts: 2700
Joined: May 31st, '
Location: Portland, OR

Re: Gaiwan (and tea): The Mandarin's Tearoom (with pictures!)

Postby Chasm » Apr 2nd, '11, 08:05

My love affair with thin porcelain makes me drool over those cups.
Chasm
 
Posts: 217
Joined: Mar 16th, '

Re: Gaiwan (and tea): The Mandarin's Tearoom (with pictures!)

Postby Earlcornbread » Dec 30th, '11, 02:13

Sold out. I will have to keep checking in. Beautiful set.
User avatar
Earlcornbread
 
Posts: 20
Joined: Dec 25th, '
Location: Santa Fe, New Mexico

Re: Gaiwan (and tea): The Mandarin's Tearoom (with pictures!)

Postby Hannah » Feb 7th, '12, 03:29

I just put a preorder in for this set, if you email you can get one reserved :D
User avatar
Hannah
 
Posts: 214
Joined: Aug 31st, '
Location: NSW, Australia


Instant Messenger

Permissions
You cannot post new topics
You cannot reply to topics
You cannot edit your posts
You cannot delete your posts
You cannot post attachments
Navigation