Bob wanted to know about brewing vessels. His question centered around choosing a brewing vessel for tea and if there is a preferred vessel for certain teas. Since it’s all a matter of taste preference, the field is actually pretty wide open. This is both a reliving question because there is no “wrong” answer or “right” vessel, but at the same time it adds more responsibility to the tea drinker to know why he or she is choosing a certain pot or Gaiwan for a specific tea.
Our tea master answered the question this way: “If your concern is cost, choose a Gaiwan. It does not cost a lot and it can be used to produce very good tea.” He added, “or, if you want to use clay pots, the minimum of even three pots will do. In the first pot, brew any oolong, in the second, any puerh, and brew green and white tea in the third.” He did not mention glass ware or porcelain pots (or even lacquer ware, jade, marble, or wood for that matter) as those brewing devices are to be used when ceremony and presentation are more important than perfecting your brewing technique of a tea.
So when choosing a brewing device, you are choosing how you want your tea to taste.
That said, how do you make that choice? The options are between porous and non-porous materials. Non-porous materials (a porcelain Gaiwan) does not influence the flavor of tea, and highlights the best and worst qualities of a tea. It's a great way to find out more about the tea you are drinking. Porous materials (a Yi Xing clay pot) lets the tea breathe and holds qualities of the tea in the vessel itself.
Choosing a Gaiwan is fairly straight forward, choosing a clay pot is harder. We'll get to that in a future post.