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

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Oriental Beauty

This tea goes by many names. Oriental Beauty (Dongfang Meiren), Bai Hao Oolong (White Tips), Champagne Oolong, Formosa Oolong, Five Colors Tea (Wuse Cha), Braggart's Tea (Pong Hong De). It was the most exported tea from Taiwan to the West in the 1800s. The Queen of England is credited with naming it Oriental Beauty, because loved it so much when she tasted it.

The tea is well known for its distinctive honey sweetness. The story goes that tea jassids (little aphid-like bugs) fly around and bite the leaves of tea plants. The plant produces a secretion at the bite-mark, which apparently gives the tea its sweet taste.

The first time this happened, the tea farmers thought their crops were lost. But a bold farmer turned around and made the tea anyway, and his Western middleman loved the product. He was so proud, he went around telling all the surrounding farmers, hence the tea garnered the name Braggart's Tea.

The tea is highly oxidized, about 70 percent. It is sweet, light bodied, floral, fruity. The bouquet is really exquisite. The dry leaves are tippy, with little silver buds and long brown-red leaves. It's distinctive taste has gotten the attention of tea drinkers across Asia, so there are farmers in Viet Nam, Thailand and China trying to reproduce the taste. But it was first grown in Xin Zhu/Miao Li in Taiwan, and now Ping Lin grows some great Oriental Beauty as well.

Our Oriental Beauty is made in Ping Lin with the Qing Xin varietal. The most popular, original style Oriental Beauty is grown with the Qing Xin Da Pa varietal. And farmers are also making this tea with Bai Mao Hou varietal (White Haired Monkey), which produces a beautiful tea with tiny, fine leaves.

This is a regular daily tea for both of us. It is great in a bowl or mug (grandpa style) for a morning tea. The tea jassids only show up in a big group once a year, so the tea is only produced one season per year. Because Shiuwen doesn't visit Taiwan in the summer, she's never seen it being processed. We hope to visit some great Oriental Beauty farmers and watch them make this tea some day.

We will be drinking this tea live on Instagram next Tuesday 10/24 at 11:30. Please tune in and drink the tea with us! Shuiwen will brew the tea and talk about her experience with it. If you have our Oriental Beauty, that's great. If not, brewing another Oriental Beauty would also be great. We hope you can make it! Our Instagram account is https://www.instagram.com/floatingleavestea/

Written by Noah

*photography by Jake Knapp of Cloud 9 Photography & Design.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Waking Up Aged Oolong

Aged oolongs can have a soothing energy. They are usually temperamental, and sometimes sour, but if you nurture them they can be full of life and delicious. And they will have a story to tell you. Part of the process of nurturing aged oolongs is waking up the tea.

When I talk about waking up a tea, I do this with heat. This is also called spot roasting, or touching up a tea. It is like roasting it just slightly, right before brewing. The simplest way is to get a candle, like a tea light, with a low flame. You can use a small sheet of paper, resting one pots worth of tea on the paper. Hold it above the flame so that a gentle heat starts to warm up the leaves (and not burn the paper at all!!). The goal is not to roast the tea, but merely to push out the slowly accumulated moisture. You can also make an apparatus to roast aged teas with an old teapot and a candle based teapot warmer as in this picture.

However you wake it up, the tea will taste cleaner, more direct and more full. The moisture that gets stuck in an aged tea can be like a glass wall between the tea and the drinker.

Our ‘66 Aged Beipu, for example, benefits from a quick spot roast. As it is, the tea is herbal, medicinal and smooth. When I feel like using some extra time and energy, I spot roast this tea as a step in my brewing process to produce an even more delicious pot of tea.

Written by: Noah

Thursday, October 05, 2017

Lishan High Mountain Oolong

photography by Douglas King

The highest tea growing peaks in Taiwan are located on Lishan. Misty, cool, high elevation, this mountain produces some of Taiwan's most famous tea. Tea farmers are growing tea around 1500 meters up to about 2600 meters at the highest point. Da Yu Ling and Fu Shou Shan teas are the most sought after among the wider tea audience because of their elevation.

Other lower elevation tea growing mountains may be growing other kinds of cultivars, like Jin Xuan. Around 1500 meter areas, Lishan farmers may be growing these varieties, too. But Qing Xin cultivar is the only one that can stand up to the highest elevation conditions and still produce a good oolong.

Compared to Alishan, Lishan tea is much more buttery. Alishan has high notes. And Lishan has a buttery texture that coats the mouth. It is balanced and thick, and is very classically representative of High Mountain Oolong.

We will be doing an Instagram live session with Lishan High Mountain Oolong on Tuesday the 10th of October at 11:30. Shiuwen will talk about how she brews and tastes the tea while drinking the tea with you. We want to encourage people to drink the tea along with us. If you have our Lishan then that's great, and if you drink another Lishan Oolong, that should be fine, too. Our goal is to facilitate drinking tea together and share the way we experience our teas.
Our Instagram account is https://www.instagram.com/floatingleavestea/

Written by Noah

Note on Myself: I’m Noah, and I have been an apprentice at Floating Leaves Tea since 2015. Since then, my love for tea has grown deeper and deeper, and I want to share my journey with you all. Thanks for reading!

Monday, September 25, 2017

Alishan High Mountain Oolong

Floral, buttery and light bodied, Alishan was the first oolong I encountered on my tea path. It opened up my mind to what is possible with tea, capturing my attention from my mouth and nose and into my mind. It was my ‘a-ha moment’ for tea drinking. The aroma was captivating and very friendly to me when I was new to tea drinking, and Alishan has stayed with me as a reliable companion through my career as a tea person.
Taiwan Day5 Alishan 28.jpg
Alishan tea field. Photography by Matthew

Alishan oolong is grown between 1000 and 1600 meters. Our Alishan tea is grown in the Zhangshu Hu area, which is about 1200 meters high. There are two major cultivars grown in Alishan, Jin Xuan and Qing Xin Oolong. For high mountain oolong, we exclusively buy tea made with the Qing Xin cultivar. Qing Xin can grow at higher altitudes and develops more slowly, producing a more complex broth. Do you know what cultivar you are drinking?
Taiwan Day5 Alishan 5.jpg
Tea picking at Alishan. Photography by Matthew

Alishan is now the most famous high mountain tea region abroad. The first high mountain growing region in Taiwan was Meishan. Now, lots of Meishan tea is sold as Alishan, relying on Alishan’s star status. Tea from each region can be delicious; we think it is largely up to the farmer to see how good the tea can be.

We will be broadcasting a live tea session on Instagram with Alishan on Tuesday the 26th at 11:30am Seattle time. If you have this tea, we encourage you to get it out and drink with us! The best way to learn tea is to drink with other tea people, and we want to try to bring this experience to our online tea friends and clients. Shiuwen will be brewing Alishan and talking about her experience with this awesome oolong. If you want to get tips on brewing or just soak up some tea knowledge please tune in! Our instagram account is https://www.instagram.com/floatingleavestea/

You can find the tea here.

by Noah

Photography by Douglas King

Note on Myself: I’m Noah, and I have been an apprentice at Floating Leaves Tea since 2015. Since then, my love for tea has grown deeper and deeper, and I want to share my journey with you all. Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Tea Documentary Filming: Love

These past few days of filming has been very full and rich for me. From a tea brewing master I met for the first time to some tea vendors I work with for 11 years, everyone showed me how they love tea. Even though they all have a busy schedule, they have given me so much of their time.

I feel they are loving me through their love of tea, through their open heart and through their kindness. And I love them back with my gratitude. Every day I live in this beautiful space called Affinity.

With all this love and gratitude, we are going to Dong Ding Mountain to capture the beauty of the mountain and the work of the farmers. Stay tuned.
*photography by Jake Knapp.