Chinese Gaiwan Cups

The gaiwan, or covered bowl, was introduced in China during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644 C.E.).  Still in use through much of China today, the gaiwan literally translates to "lidded bowl" even though it actually consists of three parts:  the cup (or bowl) in which the tea is steeped; a lid which is used to stir, cover and strain the tea; and a dish to catch the drips and to insulate so that the bowl may be handled when hot.