I’ve been an on-again-off-again user of various gaiwans and while I really enjoy them I go back to my Bodum Yo-Yo mug/infusers more often than I care to admit. Other times it is a Taiwanese tea tasting set, the three-piece ceramic infuser mug or good ‘ole Yixing. I have finally come to my own conclusion that nothing beats the gaiwan in almost every category. The flavor of almost any tea is (IMHO) enhanced greater by the gaiwan than any other. It pains me to say but even my beloved Yixing which tends to mute some flavors and create a smoother overall experience which isn’t always a good thing (actually I’ve found less times it is a positive than negative).
I have gone back and forth and make mental notes over and over again amongst them all and I can’t deny the results. Ease of use, flavor, aroma, pour, cleanup, handling, etc. they are just a perfect vessel. I will say that I do prefer glazed china/porcelain for the overall feel and the friction between the lid and cup which glass and some other materials lack. Keep in mind I tend to drink heavily roasted/fired oolongs (no TGY/green/floral oolongs), Chinese greens of all sorts, Japanese greens, yellow teas, and a few black/red/puerh so it may be that it just fits my teas better but overall and over quite a bit of time I can’t deny the clear winner for me. I mostly drink straight from it, with only a few teas requiring pouring off into a separate cup.
I’d be interested to hear of others favorite vessels and findings for their teas of choice.