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

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Dong Ding, Farmer, And Tea: Care And Love

After all these years, I still cannot say that it's easy to deal with the Dong Ding Oolong Farmer, although I do find it's easier nowadays. He has learned to take "No" from me as an answer, even if he doesn't like it.

I love recalling how our relationship has evolved, from being super difficult and swearing to myself after every visit that I would never go back there, to sometimes arguing with each other, and now to a level of mutual understanding where we have learned to get along with each other.

I think he has realized how sincere I feel towards Taiwan oolong and Dong Ding tea and at the same time how stubborn I am. He knows I will stand up to him if necessary and to push for him to craft the tea that I know my customers will love. And I've learned to see how he "loves" and cares for me and other people in his unique way.

He loves to show people around. I actually really enjoy those moments when he drives us around. I love seeing the mountains and trees. I love listening to the Taiwanese oldies he plays in the car, blasting at a high volume with the windows rolled down as we drive along quiet backroads. I take in the air, the view and the music from my youth. It feels like my past life and current life blending together. I sometimes wonder if the birds and insects would say, "Here he comes again!" When my son was younger, he would hum along with the songs even though he had no clue what they were saying and it would make the farmer very happy and they would sing together. I thought that was one of the most beautiful moments I've  witnessed.

Here is a clip of video where he drove us around in the mountains:

He is also very specific with things we eat. He thinks we are eating too much bad food. Their food is simple. Cooking is simple. Most vegetables come out of their own field or from the neighbors. Many times I had to eat some unknown powder which he thinks super good for our health, and drink some Chinese herbal brew which he believes will make me healthier. He also likes to ferment fruit. He has numerous jar of permented fruit "juice." I really dislike drinking those. On my last trip, I was thankful that my friends David and Jake enjoyed drinking them and it made the farmer very happy. He is OK now with me not drinking them.

I am grateful with all the things that farmer has done for me. I think I will never forget the moment he asked me, "When you drink a tea, can you taste if it's good?" I am looking forward to our future encouters. And I am really looking forward to my relationship with his wife, a strong woman behind the scene. I have been able to talk to her more and more during recent trips. She agreed to be in my Dong Ding documentary! It's time we bring her forward and showcase her skills and personality!

My friend Jake Knapp and I are going to be shooting a Dong Ding documentary this July. It's a dream come true for me to be able to showcase a tea that I think represents the soul of Taiwanese oolong. We will have a short two weeks to meet with a lot of people and to collect as many stories and as much footage as we can. The harder work will begin after our trip, when we have to edit the videos and put together a story that I think everyone will enjoy. The fundraiser page is up on my website. We appreciate and are grateful for all of your financial support as we work to preserve important Taiwanese tea culture and the human treasures who produce the finest oolongs.

The next few posts will be all about Dong Ding tea and this documentary project. Stay tuned.

Thursday, January 05, 2017

2016 Winter Taiwan Tea Trip: Meishan

This is the first time I visited this tea farm at Meishan. The tea country at this part of the mountain is absolute beautiful. The farmer and his wife also run a bed and breakfast business. They showed us around and cooked us food. Besides tea farming, they run a bed and breakfast business too. If you ever come to this part of the tea world, make sure you check it out: http://zhulin.okgo.tw/

We spent two days visiting tea fields, taking walks, and drinking tea. We were surrounded in nature and kindness. I hope your 2017 will be filled with beauty, good tea and kind people too!

beautiful tea country

well-maintained tea field

bamboo forest right outside our cottage

we were surrounded by spetacular mountains

sunset with amazing "cloud sea"

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

2016 Winter Taiwan Tea Trip: Dong Ding Mountain

I am glad to be back in Dong Ding Mountain. I don't get a lot of time to write but would like to share some photos with you. I love Dong Ding Oolong and I am moved by the land and the people here. I look forward to sharing the tea, stories and more photos with you after my return to Seattle.

a beautiful view at dong ding

a nice hike

farmer's hospitality: a homemade riceball treat for winter solstice. 

cute tea flowers

Monday, November 28, 2016

Dong Ding Farmer and Tea: He Refused To Sell A Tea

Before I went to Dong Ding Mountain, my friend warned me that the farmer would refuse to sell tea if he thinks the person doesn't understand his tea.

After I tasted 7 of his Dong Ding Oolongs, I settled with #3 Dong Ding. While they were packing my order, my mother and I went to get our luggage ready. "His tea is pretty good, right?" my mother asked. "Yes, I like it." "Then I should buy some for your uncle. He drinks tea" my mother said. "Get #3 or #4. They are the best ones and they are equally good. There is not enough #4 for my business, but I am going to buy it anyway. I will keep it for myself and share with some of my customers"I said.

We got our luggage ready and went to pay for the tea I ordered. My mother said to them that she would like to buy two pounds of #4. "No, you can't buy that tea. You can buy #6 or #7." Farmer said. "Excuse me? #6 or #7?" I protested. "What's wrong with #6 or #7? Are you telling me that they are bad teas?" he asked. "I don't think they are bad teas, but #3 and #4 are better!" I said. "Your mother doesn't know the difference. You can tell. You can buy #3 and #4."

It was true that my mother couldn't tell the difference, but I was still very annoyed. At the same time, I was a little bit happy that my tasting skill was confirmed.

On our way back home, I thought to myself "what a place and what a farmer!" I really like his tea but man, he is very intense!

Monday, November 21, 2016

Patience Rewarded

It is a welcome treat for me to  be able to try an aged tea that one of my customers bought from me years ago.  Today, I got to try my old Yin Hao Tuocha puer from the 1980s.  I sold this at my old shop about 8 or 9 years ago, and then again about 5 year ago when one of my suppliers found a small amount to sell me.  My customer has been aging the tea in a clay jar for about 4 years and we, along with a few other tea friends who just happened to be in the shop today, got to try this delicious tea.

It is a beautiful color and shows great signs of proper aging and a maturing, soft mouth feel.  We all agreed that it was a perfect Autumn day to enjoy this satisfying brew together.