I had a very special tea from an old growth tea forest in Yunnan, China. The tea is called Ailao Zhuan Cha. Being from an old growth forest means that the tea plants are wild and native to the area, grown within a region of natural biodiversity. Sadly, this is a rarity. Most tea plantations are clear-cut areas with little species diversity. This puts the crop at risk for pests and other issues. It reduces the area's natural ability to sustain itself and increases the risk of topsoil erosion. (The same holds true with crop farming in the US.) So it was a special thing for me to be able to taste tea from an old-growth area.
The tea was served in what the Tao of Tea calles its "Gaiwan Ceremony" style. The lid is used to gently paddle the tea and water as the tea brews.
The tea leaves (1) are moved into the Gaiwan (4) with the tongs (2). The leaves are rinsed with hot water and the liquid is drained into the waste bowl (3). Then more hot water is poured onto the leaves and they steep to the desired strength.
During steeping, the lid is used (see photo above) to paddle the leaves, circulating them through the hot water. If you are using a gaiwan for brewing and drinking, the story would stop here. However, since this was "ceremony" style - meaning that it usually serves a group - the tea is decanted into a small teapot (5) and poured into tiny teacups (6) for enjoyment.
The leaves can be re-steeped several times, and more dry leaf added as needed. It is a beautiful process to observe and participate in. Do give this a try when you have the chance!