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

Friday, August 08, 2014

Floating Leaves Tea Is 9 Years Old!

I know it sounds cliche, but time does fly! I feel like I was just celebrating our 8-year anniversary last month.

It has been a good year. Thank you all for the support! It's great to serve those of you who have been loyal to Floating Leaves Tea for so many years and I will continue to source delicious tea to share with you. It's also wonderful to meet new tea drinkers!

During this past year, I have had a great time teaching tea classes. This is an excellent way for me to share my passion and to grow my tea knowledge with those who have attended my classes. I also had a fun time connecting with some of you through my online tea classes. Thank you for connecting and thank you for all of the great feedback you gave me! The store and online classes will return soon (with my son's summer schedule, my schedule has been a bit hectic).

Cliff Tea Tasting at Floating Leaves Tea, . Photo provided by Douglas King.

I also very much enjoyed my time in Portland this past up year, doing tea tastings for a fabulous group of tea lovers there. Biggest thanks to Jan Ellis for hosting these events and thank you, all the great WuWo people in Portland, for making these tastings possible!

At a Portland Tea Tasting. Photo provided by Stephanie Wilson.

I want to thank Rob and Mr. Tsai for sourcing tea for me whenever I can't make it back to Taiwan (I do miss being in Taiwan and plan to be there this December!).

Thank you, Ninja R, for editing my blog and all of the advice (yes, you will receive traditional Dong Ding and Tieguanyin for life). Thank you, Doug, for all of the beautiful tea photos you have taken and shared with me. Thank you, Michael, Xenia, Lee, Jason, and Alice for tech support. Thank you, Yossarian, for funding and building the beautiful tea table in the shop. And thank you, many of you, for giving me suggestions, advice and help to make Floating Leaves Tea better!

There are so many people and things I feel grateful for!

I almost forgot to mention the Anniversary Sale begins on August 8th and goes through the 16th. ALL of the tea will be 20% off. For in-store customers, I will be brewing tea from noon to 3 on Saturday the 9th. It's a free event. Come taste some tea with me! For online customers, you will receive 2 free half-ounce tea samples with your order. Please just let me know which two teas you would like in the comment box.

Thank you all! Here's to another great year with more cups of delicious tea!

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Japanese Green Tea

A couple of weeks ago, my tea friend, Tatsuo from Charaku Tea taught a very interesting Japanese Tea Class.

He presented 9 teas: 3 Senchas; one Gyokuro; and one each of Kukicha, Genmaicha, Houjicha, and Matcha with Wagashi!

I was very intrigued with the Senchas he presented: they are all delicious, yet different. Tatsuo said, "For most of the Sencha, I usually use around 170 to 175 degree water for the first infusion, and look for umami (sweetness) notes. For later infusions, I go up 180 - 190 and this normally brings out more shibumi (astringency). Of course it all depends on the tea....and my mood."

I have been learning Taiwanese tea for years now. I feel that in Taiwan tea drinkers are looking for specific things from tea, too, but they "allow it to happen." From what Tatsuo presented, he "makes it happen." I find both ways have a tremendous amount of beauty.

Tatsuo offered a lot of information  (and a lot of tea!) in this class. In the end, he whisked everyone a bowl of matcha. We gave the participants a piece of Wagashi that was made that morning from Tokara. It was a wonderful way to end the class. I felt like I was eating and drinking a perfect piece of art, crafted by people who really care.

I feel very fortunate to have Tatsuo at Floating Leaves Tea to share his expertise in Japanese Tea. I am certain I will invite him back again soon!

*photos provided by Douglas King.

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

2014 Taiwan Tea Tour

I have been working out the details for what we will be doing for this December's tea tour and I am super excited for the trip!

We are of course going to taste delicious teas at Wistaria Teahouse on day one, a great place to relax after a long flight, as we take our time to take in all of the new and exciting things that Taipei has to offer.

For tea processing, we will be visiting farmer Chen in PingLin to learn about outdoor oxidation (weather permitted). In Alishan, I hope we will get to see the second Winter harvest and watch indoor oxidation and oolong rolling.

We will be spending some time with a tea friend of mine who has been in the tea business for the past 25 years. He will teach us more about his oolong roasting tricks and techniques.

In Muzha, we will be spending time with Farmer Zhang to taste his Tieguanyin and to learn how to experience "tea energy." To further deepen our tea knowledge, we will be visiting a well-regarded tea person who is passionate about growing and sourcing traditional style Taiwanese Oolongs, and learn from him the different production methods and how to taste different types of teas.

And of course, we will visit several night markets, eating lots of food, and having many other unexpectedly wonderful adventures.

For logistics, please visit our tea tour page. There are still two spots open for this trip. If you are interested, please contact me at tea@floatingleaves.com

*photos provided by Matthew Kraus.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Spring High Mountain Oolong

One of Floating Leaves Tea's tea buyers, Rob Bageant, went out to source our Spring High Mountain Oolongs last week. He was able to find us some High Mountain Oolongs with a smooth broth and clear HuiGan 回甘 (sweetness that returns to the throat area after you swallow the tea broth).

Tasting Spring Oolongs in Taiwan

He said that due to the unstable weather conditions, the bouquet of these High Mountain Oolongs might not be as strong (for example, lack of sunshine or too much rain), but with the highly-skilled tea farmers and producers, all of the tea he found us is smooth with wonderful HuiGan. I can't wait to taste them!

The first batch of High Mountain teas was sent over from Taiwan. I will be hosting some tastings soon.  Please check our blog and website for tasting times and dates.

sorting tea

*photos provided by Rob Bageant

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Muzha Tieguanyin Farmer Talking About Tea - Part II

As Farmer Chen brewed the third tea for us, he said, "To roast a tea this heavily takes courage. I have failed with thousands of jin 斤 (a weigh measurement of 600 grams) in order to learn. The temperatures goes up to 130 celcius. Normally people stop at 120." He said he wanted his tea to climb mountains, go to the peak, come back down to the valley, and then go back to the top. He said that when his tea arrives on the top of the mountain, it says thank you, and the mountain peak would talk back and say thank you as well. How beautiful! I savored the tea while busily translating.

He then talked about the Chinese character for "tea 茶." He said the tea character has three parts: grass, human, and tree (tea plant). The human does the work for the grass and the tea plant. While I was translating, everything made sense. Now I can't quite remember what he really meant! Well, I will ask him when I see him next time.

We drank more tea and his wife came out with some tea plums and crackers for us.

The farmer continued,"the third time when he shakes the green, he knows what the tea will be." He used Do-Re-Mi as an analogy. He said a good tea keeps going up from one infusion to the next. He said, "when making tea, I pull it in, let it go a little, pull in, let it go a little. I don't let my tea shine right away. My tea is more for the long haul. It keeps turning, and changing. I want my tea to be an endurance tea. I control when it peaks and how long it lasts by how I make it."

His smile and pride shone through his face. I felt so honored to share his knowledge with this incredible group of people, so open and so eager to take everything in. With my son's laughter in the background and delicious tea in front of me, I have to say, I am very lucky, and it was indeed a very good day!

*Thank you, Stephanie Wilson, for sharing the notes!
*photos provided by Matthew Kraus.