Gaiwans have won

April 24, 2009

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).

My Work Gaiwan

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.

Bodum 16oz. tea/coffee french press travel mug

February 20, 2009

Bodum makes some clean and elegantly designed kit for both tea and coffee drinkers. Their Pavina double walled glass cups are legend and I highly treasure a set of Yo-Yo Mug/infusers that I use almost daily at home. On the road, though, it can be a tricky thing to enjoy a decent cup of tea. The Chinese use smallish thermoses where they just toss in some leaf and hot water and then continue to top it off throughout the day, but that doesn’t let you regulate the brewing time so it limits the type of tea you can really enjoy. I came across these french press travel mugs about a year ago and the concept is pretty solid allowing you to stop the brewing process but also top off through the day. Best of both worlds. Kinda.


Bodum French Press Travel Mug

Bodum French Press Travel Mug



The major flaw is in the fact that the plunger bottoms out with about 2″ to spare, way too much room left. It does work really well for coffee though. The other minor quibble is that the tea does continue to brew, albeit slower, even when the plunger is down so it will still turn bitter or strong if you don’t drink it quickly. Even with the flaws it is one of the better travel solutions I’ve hit on so far.

I’d love to hear what travel solutions you have come up with in the comments.