Prior to the Ming Dynasty, tea was normally consumed from the vessel in which it was prepared. As described by the ancient tea master, Lu Yu, a Gaiwan had to be compact enough to be held comfortably in the hands for consumption.
A Gaiwan is considered by many tea connoisseurs to be the preferred method for brewing tea with delicate flavors and aromas. Although a Gaiwan is suitable for preparing any type of tea, its versatility is noted in the preparation of oolong infusions because of this particular tea’s ability to be infused multiple times. The Gaiwan is important in tea tasting due to its open and glazed surfaces: the former allows the tea to be viewed while brewing, and the latter prevents altering of the flavor and aroma of the tea during brewing.