The subject keeps on coming up in mails and discussion groups about tea. Almost each tea web site proposes its slightly different version of how to make Chinese tea. Some give good advice, but there are always mistakes or inaccuracies and none seems to go as far as what I have learned from tea master Teaparker. So, I'll share what I've learned in a series of several lessons. These are more guidelines than a standard procedure and they should give you enough basic knowledge to let you make educated experiments by yourself. Because it's not enough that I (or Teaparker) tells you this is the best way to make tea, most importantly YOU must feel the difference.
First, what are the most basic tools we need to brew Chinese tea?
1. A gaibei (also called gaiwan) made of 3 elements: a cover, a cup and a saucer,
2. A small cup to drink the tea,
3. A pitcher or strainer to empty the tea from the gaibei.
4. A water absorbing towel below all the above: tea brewing can quickly look quite messy with water everywhere. The towel is the low cost solution to keep everything neat and your mind in peace.
The gaiwan, cup and pitcher must all be made of glazed porcelain instead of glass or clay. Why? Porcelain is neutral while unglazed clay will modify the taste of tea. All serious tea competitions and professionals use porcelain. They are usually plain white, but motives on the outside are not a problem. I also recommend rather thin walls, as such walls let delicate flavors express themselves better. But it's not a must. Thicker walls, on the other hand, may be more resistant to shocks.
You'll also need 2 other items not shown here: a hot water pot on a source of energy (wood, gas, electricity) and a trash can for water and used tea leaves.