Thanks to Chip and Xell for the replies.
(Xell: hope things are good with you, haven't spoken in a while.)
So I also tried the method Xell mentioned. Preheating the pot. Interestingly enough, I had always done this with Japanese tea, but never really for Chinese tea. I *do* pre-heat the gaiwan by holding it near a heat-source (within a safe distance, and cautiously, I don't want it to crack) but never using hot water to pre-heat it.
Having used water for this purpose, I ended up with a warm gaiwan with wet walls with perhaps a bit more moisture on the bottom - one or two drops having pooled there. After adding the tea (Bi Luo Chun in this case) the aroma was incredible. I let the tea sit like this for about a minute. Then I added water, making sure to pour very gently around the walls. The result was a Bi Luo Chun with not even a hint of bitterness, and that classic toasty flavour coming through.
I'm not sure what it was that made this session so successful, but I do know that letting the tea sit in a warm, wet gaiwan for a little bit really titilated my senses, and I can also be sure that in some cases at least, being careful with how the leaves contact the water can bring great things out of the tea.