Since I mentioned it yesterday, today I whipped out my gaiwan and tried the same tea — the aged tieguanyin from my Taiwanese candy store, to see how the gaiwan fares.
The short version is: not too well.
I think there’s a temperature problem with the gaiwan, although I have a feeling that’s not the only issue. The tea came out a bit subdued — the aromatics and depth did not show up very much, although the throatiness of the tea presented itself strongly. The tea’s aromas were certainly lacking compared to the zhuni pot I used yesterday. Nor does it have the softness that I would get using my black pot. Did it have any redeeming feature? I’m not sure….
So, no gaiwan for aged oolongs. I knew this already, but this is a good confirmation.
I should note that I am not the only person to have tried something like this. Adrian Lurssen has written two pieces on the same subject of yixing vs gaiwan over at Chadao, dated Nov 27th and 30th. His results were more inconclusive, but I think it depends greatly on the tea in question. Gaiwans, I think, don’t do as bad with teas like greens or young puerhs, but I don’t drink a lot of those these days.