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

Friday, May 01, 2015

MoJiang, A Small Yet Adorable Place

We were in MoJiang, Yunnan for two days. I love this place! It's small and friendly. The biggest tribe here is the NaXi. People in this city haven't seen many outsiders. We were met with curious eyes, and the friendly locals coming and going all said "hello" to us.

There are plenty of cars in this city and at the same time, it's not unusual to see two oxen cross the busy street in the morning or people who still use a pole to carry goods to the market in the traditional way. It feels like the past and present meeting up at the same time and place.

I love walking through their morning market and their beautiful park. It gives me a sense of their lives and I enjoy the feeling of being there. I hope the photos can give you a glimpse of the beautiful people in this adorable place.

Spending time with Mr. Wang, who owns a tea factory, and his crew makes this place more special. Mr. Wang is funny and generous. I am very grateful to him for spending so much time showing us around, taking us to tea fields, showing us his tea factory, asking his crew to help us to make tea, brewing tons of tea for us, and talking to us about Puer tea. Everyone we met in this city were so very friendly and open!

And did I mention the food here is fantastic? They sure love their wild vegetables and super free-range chicken!

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Pressing Puer Cakes

Here are some of the basic steps involved in pressing Puer. I will share more information and some videos with you after I return to Seattle.

1.  Prepare the Puer Mao Cha.

2.  Weigh the leaves.

3.  Steam the Puer tea.

4.   Place the steamed leaves into a cloth wrapper and then tie the bag into a specific size and shape.

5.  Press the cloth bag with the steamed leaves about 3 times.

6.  Lay pressed cakes, wrapped in cloth, on tea racks.

7.  After the pressed cakes cool enough, the cloth wrapper is removed and the cakes are laid on racks for further drying.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Making Puer Mao Cha

After we collected the freshly picked tea leaves from the XiLi tea field, we went back to Mr. Wang’s tea factory. He instructed one of his works to to help us make Puer Mao Cha.

Here are the steps:
  1. Build the fire for firing the tea

  1. Put freshly picked leaves on tea baskets for withering

  1. Once in a while, shake the leaves to help the components in the leaves react with each other

  1. Fry the leaves

  1. Air dry the leaves after firing the leaves

We were grateful to Mr. Wang and his worker for showing us the traditional way to fire the tea with a wok. He said they now use machines to fire the tea in his factory. The withering leaves smell very fragrant. They reminded me of Oolong. I touched the leaves after they were fired and they felt kind of sticky. I loved watching the tea maker firing the tea in the wok. His hand movements were very beautiful.

We had to leave before the leaves were dry. Mr. Wang said he would send it to our hotel in Kunming. I can’t wait to taste this Mao Cha!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Picking Tea in the XiLi area of Yunnan

After we had a delicious lunch prepared by Naxi tribal people, Mr. Wang took us to his tea factory. We picked up some hats and tea baskets and headed out to a tea field to pick tea. Brian, one of our trip members, and I rode with a farmer and a tea factory assistant. I tried to ask the farmer several questions before I realized he didn’t speak Mandarin Chinese! The assistant could speak some Mandarin Chinese and helped with translation. It was so interesting to hear them speak their tribal language.

70 year old tea tree

When we reached a small tea hill, the farmer started to drive backwards up the hill. I wondered if we would have any way to turn around later. He suddenly stopped the car and repeatedly said something I didn’t really understand. Somehow after hearing it three times, I knew he was trying to tell us to hold on tight! Without thinking I told Brian to hold on. We didn’t know what would happen next, but he suddenly stepped on the gas really hard and took a sharp turn. We went quickly up the steep, dirt road on the side of the hill. I screamed! It took about 5 seconds to situate myself as I looked around. I held tight and became more relaxed as I realized the farmer had probably driven up this road many times. He is good at it and he knows what he is doing. I told myself everything is going to be just fine.

After we got out of the car, everything was worth it. It was a beautiful day in a beautiful place with great people. Mr. Wang and the farmer showed us what to pick and we were ready to work. It was a wonderful experience of East meets West. The locals were very open to show us their culture and we were very grateful and eager to take in this new experience.

We had fun being in the tea fields picking tea. We gathered the leaves we picked and headed back to the factory. My next post will be about the “Stir Green” phase of tea production.

A Long - but Worthwhile - Trip to BiXi

We took a long bus ride, over 4-hours, from Kunming to MoJiang. Awoono’s friend, a tea factory owner named Mr. Wang, came to the bus station to meet us. He took us to another town outside of MoJiang called BiXi. It used to be quite an important city, but we could see that it has become rundown. However, it still felt very charming to us. We enjoyed walking through the narrow alleys and looking at the old buildings.

Mr. Wang led us through a nondescript doorway and a beautiful courtyard opened up - that’s where we were going to eat lunch. I could tell tea is part of life here. In a small room, there was tea that was in the withering phase of production. The restaurant owner came out and greeted us with a pot of “restaurant tea,” which was made from their mao cha (unfinished) Puer. Our lunch was a feast, consisting of a lot of delicious wild vegetables. We felt very relaxed, surrounded by friendly locals in this charming little town.

After lunch, Mr. Wang took us to a tea field to pick tea. We loved what we saw and how we felt. We knew the rest of the day was going to be fun and interesting. The tiring and long bus ride was totally worth it. In my next tea posts, I will have lots of Puer tea information to share!