Which Teaware is necessary?

5-Minute Guide to Essential Teaware

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You’ve got the leaves, the kettle, the water. Now what? To brew tea, we’re going to need some gear. 

In this guide, we’ll give you an overview of the basics to get you started. The essential items, optional extras, material choices, and our recommendations. 

ESSENTIALS

If you’re here, you’re probably familiar with Gong Fu Brewing, and if not, you read our explanation of why it’s the best way to brew tea.

These are the bare minimum utensils you need to get brewing Gong Fu style. Providing you have something to act as each piece, you can start brewing immediately:

Brewing Vessel

This is where the action takes place. Usually, a teapot or something called a Gaiwan, which means “lidded bowl”, but even brewing leaves in a regular bowl will work. 

Decanter/Pitcher 

A place to pour the infusion into once the tea has finished brewing. For Gong Fu Brewing, this is referred to as the Gong Dao Bei. Bare in mind that it needs to hold as much tea as your brewing vessel holds!

Cup

Hopefully quite obvious. Something for you to drink from!

BASIC CONSIDERATIONS

Let’s level up this setup so we’re no longer surviving but thriving. 

Let’s face it; using items from the kitchen is fine to muddle through, but having your own dedicated tea set makes your tea sessions so much more enjoyable. Below are some things to consider when buying your first set of teaware, namely sizing, materials, and optional extras.

Size

For Gong Fu Brewing, small teaware works best to make the most of your leaves. Typically, 100-200ml teapots or Gaiwans and 25-50ml cups to cool down your tea faster and for sharing your sessions with others. 

Materials

You’ll find a range of materials used for teaware. Mainly porcelain, glass, clay, and metal. They each have their strengths and weaknesses, which we’ll go into more depth in other articles. The main differences are:

  • Porcelain

What we call “transparent” in effect on the tea, meaning it won’t change the taste or feel of the tea at all. For this reason, it works well with every tea. 

  • Glass

Like porcelain, glass is “transparent” in its effect. The main difference between glass and porcelain is heat retention, with glass dissipating heat slightly quicker. For that reason, green tea is most suited to glass teaware, but glass can also brew any type of tea.  

  • Clay

Due to its unglazed inner surface, clayware will absorb tea and impart subtle effects on the taste and feel. Clay also retains heat much better than porcelain and glass, making it better for darker and larger-leaf teas. Lighter, more delicate teas such as fresh white and green teas typically aren't suited to clayware, with some exceptions we’ll discuss another time. 

  • Metal

You may have seen metal teaware being used in tea brewing, like cast-iron or silver teapots. Usually these aren’t made in Gong Fu size, and from what we can tell in our experiments, there’s not much benefit from using metal teaware although a metal kettle to heat up water may impart some minerality.

OPTIONAL EXTRAS

With the bare essential teaware taken care of, let’s highlight some other pieces of gear that will add some finishing touches to your starter setup:

Strainer

A strainer will help filter out any broken tea leaves making their way into your cup. Some people prefer not to use these as the fine particles in tea that contribute to texture will also be reduced. 

Tea Trays

Brewing can get messy, especially if you’re just getting to grips with brewing in a Gaiwan. Tea trays are not only functional but can be beautiful, too. 

Tea Towel

Another “optional necessity” to finalise your set and keep your tea sessions mess-free. 

MY RECOMMENDATIONS

Now that I’ve covered the basics, here’s my advice on some specific items to get you started on your journey:

GONG FU GLASS TEAPOT - A perfectly sized Gong Fu teapot that will show off your leaves as they brew. 

PORCELAIN GAIWAN - Our Mei Leaf Gaiwan is well-proportioned for learning to use Gaiwans, and works well with any tea. 

PORCELAIN OR GLASS GONG DAO BEI - To match your Gaiwan, we’ve created a pitcher to go along with it. Alternatively, a glass pitcher like this one will allow you to observe the beautiful colours of your tea.

TULIP BLUE CUPS A couple of matching cups for sharing your tea session.

FINE MESH STRAINER - To ensure crystal clear tea. 

GONG FU SATELLITE -Our small-form accompaniment to its bigger brother the Gong Fu Code, the Satellite works just as well as a stand-alone tea tray and provides a natural aesthetic with its water-resistant bamboo top. An ABS plastic insert in both the Gong Fu Code and Satellite ensures your tray will last. For an even smaller footprint, check out our Gong Fu Vessel.

TEA TOWEL - Super absorbent towelling with a velvety blue top that looks and feels great. 

CHABU - Frame your tea session with a beautiful tea runner. It completes the tea session aesthetic and catches any spills.

CONNOISSEUR TEA BREWER -  To simply brew tea at your desktop without the other teaware, you can use this all-in-one brewer and decanter. Simply add the leaves to the top, pour in hot water, and press the button on the lid to decant the tea to the pitcher below. You just need a cup. This is a handy device to make great tea, although it does not replace the experience of brewing with individual teaware.

Learn about all of the different types of teaware and their uses:

READ OUR OTHER QUICK GUIDES:

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