Craftedleaf Qinghua Blue Cloud Gaiwan Review

Craftedleaf Qinghua Blue Cloud Gaiwan Review

This is the first gaiwan I ever used and I’m so excited to share it with you all this week. The Craftedleaf Qinghua Blue Cloud Gaiwan is a beautiful example of a classic gaiwan. It’s surprisingly easy to use and is the perfect tool for trying an eastern tea method for the first time.

In this review, I’m going to explain how I use it and why it’s so great. I’ve been testing it for over a year now and not a week goes by when I don’t indulge in at least one lengthy tea ceremony-style session.

If you are new to gaiwan brewing, this is the perfect place to start.

Hand-Painted Cloud Gaiwan at a Glance

  • Method: Eastern gongfu
  • Best For: Slow tea ceremonies with the finest loose leaf teas

Well-made, hand-painted, and moderately easy to use when you get the hang of it. I love this gaiwan and it’s the perfect size for one to two people.

blue cloud gaiwan tea set
Cloud gaiwan with a teacup from a different set.

Full Review – Craftedleaf Teas Gaiwan

The Blue Cloud Gaiwan is a two-piece set, with a 125ml volume bowl and a lid that slides over the top with a really satisfying noise. At the time of writing, Craftedleaf have stopped selling the matching plate that comes with it, but you can still find a matching teacup that I wish I had purchased at the time.

At just 8cm tall, it’s much smaller than the teapots you’re used to, but actually on the larger side of things when you consider that many gaiwans are smaller. It’s made of clay and hand-decorated with a Chinese blue cloud pattern. As each gaiwan is hand-decorated, no two will be alike.

It is then glazed and fired at 1320°C in Mr Ching’s ceramic workshop. This temperature is ideal for the blue cobalt colour – known as qinghua. Other colours, like ruby red jihong, have a lower and more narrow firing temperature.

This cloud gaiwan is best for brewing fine loose leaf tea. I have mainly used it for sencha and jasmine green teas, but puerh, oolong, white tea, and any other tea type that’s of a high quality will do. Use my Tea Review Index in the menu and browse by origin – this is the best way to find those high-quality teas that are perfect for a gaiwan ceremony.

How to Use a Qinghua Gaiwan

Using a gaiwan is moderately simple. Follow these steps for the 125ml cloud gaiwan:

  1. Add 4g of loose leaf tea to the gaiwan,
  2. Get your water to the right temperature (e.g., 80°C for most green teas),
  3. Pour the water over the leaf, until it’s near the top of the bowl,
  4. Pop the lid on, trying not to catch any air bubbles as you do,
  5. Move the lid a little so one side dips down, then with your middle or pointer finger on the centre stalk of the lid use your thumb and ring fingers to hold the lip of the bowl on either side,
  6. With this grip, you’re holding the lid down while lifting the bowl up,
  7. Tilt to pour into your cup.

This method enables you to use the lid to prevent the leaf falling out, while letting the tea strain into your cup. It takes a little practice, but there’s something quite relaxing about it.

The timings for a gaiwan are very different. Usually starting with a brew time of under 5 seconds, you’re aiming for lots of tiny little steeps rather than one big, long steep. Read my guide to eastern tea methods to learn more.

qinghua gaiwan pattern

Cleaning and Storing Your Blue Gaiwan

Even though the gaiwan doesn’t go in the dishwasher, it’s still very easy to clean. The glazed interior means that leaf and tea just slide off – it doesn’t tend to get stained. Usually, I only need to give the gaiwan a quick rinse in hot water, using a cloth if needed.

As I only brew high-quality, unflavoured teas in the gaiwan, I don’t need to use any detergent to get out sugar or strong flavours.

I dry it with a tea towel and store it in a box, in my tea cupboard.

Overall, it is surprisingly low maintenance.

Summary

I highly recommend choosing Craftedleaf Teas for your gaiwans. They are beautifully made and relaxing to use. The only downside is that the shipping from China to the UK is really long…  and it’s probably even longer for customers in the US. I think it is worth the wait, but if you are impatient you can try purchasing a gaiwan from Amazon instead. You’re unlikely to find the same patterns as these hand-painted items, however.

Tea Recommendation

As mentioned, any loose leaf tea will do. You can pair it with a white tea, like the 2018 Spring Mountain, or opt for a more heavily oxidised oolong that has a richer flavour. Whatever tea you use, my last tip is to use your gaiwan atop a bamboo tea tray. They catch any spills and are great for brewing tea on-the-go with the cloud gaiwan – find the trays in our store here at Immortal Wordsmith.

Isobel Moore

Isobel Moore is a quiet, quirky and creative “human bean” whose favourite pastime is curling up with a cuppa and a good book.

Over the past 5 years, her tea reviews at Immortal Wordsmith have helped thousands of readers choose vibrant tea blends and single origin selections from fine, organic, and responsible tea companies.

As a professional content writer with a qualification in digital marketing, Isobel has worked with market-leading tea brands around the globe to develop their content marketing campaigns and gain exposure. Her professional portfolio can be found on Upwork.

Besides a deep-rooted passion for tea, Isobel writes on topics ranging from food and travel to wellness and literature.

Favourite Quote: “Manuscripts don’t burn” – Mikhail Bulgakov

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