Floating Leaves Tea Home ---Shiuwen's Blog!

Saturday, February 14, 2015

New Teas - Muzha Tieguanyin Oolong - 2009

I brought back a hearty 2009 Muzha Tieguanyin to add to this season's tea selection. A traditional Muzha Tieguanyin is the tea I go for in cooler weather and especially during the winter. The tea broth is rich and savory, and it brings a lot of warmth. I also really enjoy all that a good Tieguanyin has to offer:  Hui Gan (salivating) and Hou Yun (a wonderful sensation at the back-of-the throat area while the broth passes through it).

When I first tasted this 2009 Tieguanyin, I thought it was on the heavy side. However, as the tea opened up, it kept tasting better and better throughout multiple infusions. The stimulation of anticipatory salivation, the feeling of the tea broth, and the pleasantly warm sensations throughout my body just keep going on and on.

I was very happy I got to taste Tieguanyin with Mr. and Mrs. Zhang on my recent Taiwan trip. It is always a delight to taste tea with them. They let me taste two of the Tieguanyins that were made in November 2014. The tea tasted good, but some of the good features that a high quality Tieguanyin have were not present. A traditional Tieguanyin goes through a lot of rolling/bruising and multiple slow roasting processes. It takes time for the tea to integrate and open. This is different from letting a new bag of tea sit for a couple of weeks before it fully opens. You have probably already noticed by now that Floating Leaves Tea carries current seasonal teas like the Spring and Winter Baozhong, High Mountain Oolongs, Dong Ding, etc.... However, the traditional Muzha Tieguanyin that I chose for the shop is not the current season's production because a good one can take a little longer (one or more seasons) to transform into something really special. Lighter and greener Tieguanyin teas, such as what's popular in mainland China now, do not generally benefit from age or more processing, so mainland Tieguanyin is often enjoyed while it's fresh.

The date for tasting the new season's Oolong teas is Feb. 21st from 11am to 1pm. You can request the tea you want to try and there are no reservations needed.  Come early as it may get busy and it will be first come, first served. If I am organized enough, I will try to have some treats for Chinese New Year on that day, too!

Monday, February 09, 2015

New Teas - Dong Ding Traditional

Aside from this season's high mountain tea, there are two other teas that I'm proud to have brought back to share with you. Today I'd like to talk about one of them, my traditional Dong Ding. This tea is made from Qingxin leaves and has a light roast to match its light oxidation (for a Dong Ding tea, but the oxidation is still higher than for my high mountain oolongs). This tea is very satisfying when I'm looking for something with a bit more weight and body than a light oolong or a green tea, without being as thick or full as a traditional Tieguanyin.

This season's Dong Ding offers a satisfying tea broth and some light fruit notes. It has a good back-of-the-throat sensation, which many of my best tea's also have. We've been working with this Dong Ding farmer for many seasons now and he tries to stay on top of the subtly changing tea trends to give tea lovers something that's a bit more interesting and fresh each season, while still providing the solid taste profile that his teas are known for.

I've been meaning to set up tastings for the new teas this season and I will do so as soon as my tasting notes for Tieguanyin are posted. I've been really busy putting together a very exciting tea tour to Yunnan province later this spring, where we will search for some amazing tea and we'll have some amazing experiences as well!

Monday, February 02, 2015

NEW Teas - The Winter Oolongs Have Arrived!

The NEW teas are here!!

I returned from Taiwan about 3 weeks ago and have been so busy tasting, inventorying and tidying up the shop that I’m just now sitting down and writing about all of the beautiful teas that I was able to find this season.  I had a great trip and spent several days with my buyers and my tea farmers in Taipei, and I also got to spend some time with my family.  I love Taiwan!

Seattle had a record-breaking year of warm weather this year.  Taiwan was also a bit warmer than usual, which resulted in a warmer tea season with an earlier-than-usual harvest.  The fragrance of the High Mountain oolongs’ bouquets is a bit more muted than last year’s harvest, but the tea broth is solid, round and full.  Here are some of my notes:

Alishan: the lightest and the brightest of the high mountains this season.  Pleasant and refreshing, with a clean aftertaste.

ShanLinXi: soft, creamy, and citrus-fruit flavors.  My buyer knows that I especially like an exquisite tea broth, and he was right on in helping me pick this one. He predicted that the ShanLinXi’s complex flavor would be my favorite of the season.  It is very good, but still too early for me to pick a favorite.

Lishan: Heavier body and stronger aftertaste than the ShanLinXi.  Bold flavors, fruity, and a satisfying finish.  I am enjoying this tea very much and am having a difficult time deciding if I like the ShanLinXi or Lishan better. 

I had an interesting experience with this season's High Mountain teas that I want to share. While I was in Taiwan, I tasted the same ShanLinXi that I brought back.  I noticed the bouquet was stronger in Taiwan, so I thought it might have something to do with the water I used.  After I came back to Seattle, I tasted the Lishan and I thought the bouquet had disappeared, which really shocked me!  I tried it the next day and the bouquet was still not there.  I tried the Lishan from the same bag again on the third day and it turned out just as lovely as I remembered it in Taiwan!  The body, the taste, the scent and the aftertaste were all there!  I noticed that on the first two days, it was dark and rainy outside, but on the third day, it was sunny.  I wonder if the air pressure, weather, etc has some impact on how much of the bouquet shows up.  Anyway, I’m glad the right flavor profile has returned.  I have found that tea sometimes gets “jet lag,” too, and may need a little bit of time to open up. 

I’m excited about these teas and will be doing tastings soon – the schedule will be arranged and posted later this week.  I also brought back other teas, including a nice moderate roast Dong Ding, so I’ll post the notes about those teas, along with the tasting schedule, soon. 

Thursday, January 15, 2015

2015 Yunnan Tour Itinerary

Here is our exciting, tentative itinerary for the April Yunnan Tea Tour!*

April 12th: Kunming. We will meet at the hotel at 10 in the morning. Awoono and I will take you to tour the city and have lunch. After lunch, we will hang out in a very cool local tea house (or two) to taste some special puers. It will be good to relax in a nice tea house after a long flight. We will learn about puer and talk more about the places we will visit during our trip.

April 13th: We will travel to Mo-Jiang, to my co-tour leader's hometown to visit her uncle, who is a tea farmer. At his farm, we will pick tea leaves and learn the basics of tea firing.

April 14th: We will visit another tea farmer in the Mo-Jiang area. This farmer is doing environmentally-responsible farming practices; he doesn't use chemical fertilizer or pesticides. I was lucky to taste his tea last year and it was very good. Besides visiting his farm, we will try to learn how to press puer cakes from him. We will also take you to a great restaurant to eat locally grown organic vegetables and meat.

old style tea farming

local vegetables

April 15th: We will leave early today and travel south to the Xishuangbanna area. We will be visiting one of the most well preserved tea forests, where there are around three thousand tea trees ranging from 200 years to 1000+ years old. It will feel magical to hike through an old tea tree forest.

a huge old Puer tree

April 16th: We will travel to Nannuo Mountain, one of the most famous puer tea mountains, known for its high quality puer maocha. We know some local tea producers and experts that will teach us more about this special tea and how to taste them.

Puer mao cha from Nannuo Mountain

April 17th: Today, we will be joining one of the biggest festivals in Xishuangbanna. This celebration is observed throughout Southeast Asia. This festival is celebrated by the Dai tribe, for "getting rid of the old and welcoming in the new." We will also be exploring some Dai cuisine while we are here.

April 18th: We are going to visit some local pottery places. We hope to be able to show you how the local pottery is made. If we don't catch any production in action, we will at least have a chance to get some unique jars to store your precious puer.

April 19th: We are going to travel to Lijiang today. After we check into our hotel, we will be touring the old town of LiJiang, which is an Unesco Heritage Site. This city is around 800 years old and has a well preserved old city structure that is breathtaking. The Naxi tribe is the biggest group of people who live here. We will explore their culture and cuisine, too.

April 20th: We are planning to visit a Tea Horse Old Route museum in LiJiang. LiJiang is also one of the ancient Silk Road's trade stops. This museum will offer us a glimpse into the city's history and also some puer tea knowledge. We plan to have some time in the afternoon for you to do some souvenir shopping!

April 21st: We will travel back to Kunming. Time to pick up your luggage and fly home. 

*This is a tentative itinerary. It's subject to change, hopefully for the better in case unique opportunities arise!

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

2015 April Yunnan Tour Logistics

Happy 2015! I am looking forward to having a good year and I hope you are too.

I am super excited with this upcoming Yunnan tea tour. I hope you can join me and we can explore this wonderful and fascinating tea region together.

Here are the logistics for this April tour:

Time April 12th to 21st ( 10 days in Yunnan).

Cost: $2900 includes lodgings, three meals a day, transportation in Yunnan, tickets and fees for activities and classes, and two tour leaders. $400 extra for single occupancy.

Deposit: $500 deposit by Feb. 15. After that, it will be non-refundable.

Highlights of this trip: Please see this blog post. The trip itinerary is coming up in my next post.

Benefits of this trip: I am planning to take 4 to 6 people. It will be a small group for those of you who prefer that. The original cost of this tour is $3500, but since it's my first tour to Yunnan, it's $2900 for this trip. It's around 15% off!

If you are interested or have any questions, please contact me at tea@floatingleaves.com