|Tang Cao (Tang Dynasty Flower Design) Teaware Set|
Be good this year to those tea lovers on your holiday gift list by taking extra care in selecting the perfect teaware gift for them. The key is knowing what tea they like.
For the Beginner
We all know someone who is just beginning to explore the world of fine teas. Start them out with a fairly straightforward teapot with a style all its own. Avoid anything that needs special care, such as Yixing pots, or that call for steeping methods they might find strange and too much effort, such as trying to get a lot of steepings out of a tea using a gaiwan and not knowing how to handle it (the gaiwan can get pretty hot). By all means, though, don’t give in and just buy them one of those cute holiday mug designs. You want to steer them on to the path of steeping with more serious intent and make sure they don’t resort to infuser tea balls and baskets or, horror of horrors, those teabags!
For the Explorer
Many tea drinkers are explorers, trying new teas as they come on the market and expanding their tea horizons by going beyond the limits of a particular tea type. Someone who has heretofore stuck with Indian black teas may be spurred to explore Chinese black teas or oolongs from China, Taiwan, or even Thailand. This means they may need to go from using that simple teapot to using a Yixing teapot, a gaiwan, a kyusu, or other vessel that is more appropriate for getting the best flavor and most steepings out of those new tea horizons.
For the Steadfast
Some folks aren’t the exploring type. They find a spot they like and stick with it. The same is true of tea drinkers. They try some Raw (green) Pu-erh and like it so much that they stick with it. Your choice of teaware gift to them will be a bit dependent on which tea they are sticking with.
For the Gongfu Fanatic
Whether exploring new teas or remaining steadfast to one’s favorites, these tea drinkers are committed to steeping with skill (what the term “gongfu” actually means). And what gongfu dedicatee wouldn’t want a backup gongfu tea set? Or you can get them a portable set so they don’t have to desert their gongfu ways when they travel.
For the Dabbler
Even those who do not take tea too seriously (and no they’re not a myth — they do exist) need some appropriate teawares. Or maybe a suitable gift of a special teapot or a set of sipper cups will encourage them to do more than dabble in tea.
Whichever type of giftee you’re buying for, you can’t go wrong if you pair their approach to tea with the right type of teaware. Happy hunting!