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

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Japanese Tea Ceremony Class With Marjorie Yap of Issoan Tea School

After my Oolong tea tasting with my tea friends in Portland, I had the rare opportunity to attend a Japanese tea ceremony class taught by Marjorie Yap Sensei of Issoan Tea and assisted by Barbara Sensei.

Believe it or not, that was my first experience attending a formal Japanese tea ceremony/class.
I joke with my customers quite often that I can't do Japanese tea ceremonies because I would be kicked out of Japanese tea ceremony schools for not sitting still and for talking too much. But in reality, I had thought that Japanese tea ceremonies focus too much on the rituals and too little on enjoying the tea.

I am grateful that I was permitted to be a guest in Margie Sensei's Japanese tea ceremony class. In a way, I felt it was better than sitting in a formal ceremony for my first experience. I got to watch how students practice performing the ceremony, which I especially liked because some of the rituals were explained, and I got to see the beautiful relationship between teacher and students.

I didn't have any expectations before I entered the class and I left with a lot of satisfaction. I was happy that I enjoyed the process so much. It felt like we shared a space where beauty could be achieved through diligent practice. I now see how the Japanese tea ceremony is a life-long practice. It makes me think of meditation, which is also a life-long practice.

I walked away with the discovery that my perspective of Japanese tea ceremony has changed and I was filled with gratitude from the generosity of the teachers and students. So will I be learning Japanese tea ceremony? I think a more appropriate question is if I want this to become one of my life-long pursuits!

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Sudden Loss Of Tea Bouquet And Tea Flavor

Two weeks ago, I was in Portland tasting some Taiwanese Oolongs with my tea friends. Before I arrived, our host Jan called to inform me that the air was quite smokey due to many wildfires in Oregon state. I didn't think too much about that since I lived in Taipei for many years in the past, and the air pollution was quite bad back then.

I arrived a day before the tea tasting event and I was fine with all the smoke in the air. The first half of the tea tasting went very well. We enjoyed two Baozhongs, Oriental Beauty, Alishan Black tea and a Chuan Tong Oolong (a heavy roasted Oolong). We took a small break and had some snacks. I didn't serve any of the High Mountain Oolongs until the second half, because there were five of them and I wanted participants to be able to compare the teas.

I opened the vacuum bag of Alishan Oolong. It surprised me that there was almost no smell from the bag. I thought the bouquet would definitely show up after the bag of Alishan had a chance to breathe. I proceeded to brew the tea and there was close to no bouquet from the tea broth, either. I was very disappointed. I very much wanted to share with them how beautiful this season's Alishan could be! Next, I brewed the ShanLinXi, which did not reveal most of its flavor either (ShanLinXi has the heaviest body and its flavor is very easy to detect this season). I thought something was wrong.

Jan graciously offered to change the pot for heating hot water, and wanted to know if it could make a difference. Not much more bouquet nor flavor showed up after changing to a different pot. Some people said it might be the water. I didn't think the water would be the cause as we had 5 different teas earlier and they tasted fine and delicious. I thought it might be caused by a sudden change in air pressure, but I had no proof.

I would say the High Mountain Oolongs only showed an average of 30% of their bouquet and flavor. However, their textures showed up without any problem. They were all very soft and round.

One hour afterwards, while I was bagging tea for my tea friends, I smelled the bag of Alishan and some bouquet showed up.

I didn't drink any High Mountain Oolong for two days. After I came back to Seattle, I was eager to try the Alishan. It smelled beautifully and tasted as what I have remembered. Thank goodness! Maybe my senses were muted by the smoke in the air?

I wonder if you have had similar experiences? If so, please share your thoughts with me, I would love to hear more about your experiences.

*photo provided by Marilyn Miller

Monday, August 10, 2015

Floating Leaves Tea Is Turning 10 Years Old!

I know it sounds like a cliche but I simply can't believe Floating Leaves Tea is turning 10 years old! I guess when I am having fun, time really does fly.

It has been an amazing 10 years. Thank you all for supporting me on this incredible journey. While I am writing this post, the memories of setting up the tea house, of customers enjoying the space, of the uncertainty we faced when we moved to a new location...all lead to this moment now where I feel blessed to have so much help and encouragement!

I love this tea business! I love to travel to the tea regions and to learn from the farmers who are down to earth and passionate about their teas. I was super excited that I got to expand my tea travels from Taiwan to Yunnan China this past April. Thank you, Jan, Masa, Brian and Awoono, for making this trip possible. You guys are incredible!

What I love about this tea business the most is connecting with you over cups of tea. I have had great tea sessions here, chatting about tea, life and philosophy. When I see the sparkle in your eyes, when I see that you find a tea here that makes you happy, I know I've done a good job.

And thank you, internet customers, for supporting Floating Leaves Tea all of these years! Every time I receive an order, I feel like I make a tea connection. Seeing so many repeat orders from you makes my day. It makes me feel like you identify with what I am doing and I will continue to do better for you.

Thinking about all of this brings a big smile on my face, and I almost forgot to mention Floating Leaves Tea's 10-year-old Anniversary Sale: 25% Off on all our tea selection starting on August 12th. The sale will last for 1 week.

When I drink a cup of tea, I will be thinking all of you with warm gratitude in my heart. Thank you for these great 10 years. I look forward to the next amazing 10 years of my tea journey with you!

Thursday, July 09, 2015

Some Beautiful Tea Photos To Share

I have been going through some photos on my laptop and  came across some really nice photos taken by a 2013 Taiwan trip member. I thought you might enjoy viewing them, too.


tea field at DingHu, Alishan

tea pickers handing in their tea

leaves after the "Big Stir"


picking tea at Muzha

collecting tea after outdoor oxidation

beautiful Tieguanyin 


I love being in PingLin

walking back to Farmer's Chen's  

three leaves and a bud


SheShui is known for Black tea 

tea field at SheShui

after a wonderful hike

Taipei - Wistaria Tea House

I love drinking tea at this teahouse!

awesome Puer

enjoying tea

I miss being in Taiwan. Thank you, Matthew, for giving me these photos. They brought back good memories!

Friday, June 12, 2015

2015 Spring High Mountain Oolong - Fantastic Tea!

When our buyer, Rob Bageant, was out buying the Spring High Mountain Oolongs, I stayed connected with him via messaging. It was a bit of torture for me not to taste the tea, but at the same time, it was pretty fun to feel I could taste the teas based on his descriptions. We have bought tea together many times throughout the years; I have confidence and feel very connected to buy tea this way even though I was not there physically.

dry leaves of ShanLinXi

It excited me when our buyer's opening statement was, " Very good tea this season. So balanced." Then, he said, " it makes tea buying easy this year because it's so good!" When he was tasting DaYuLing, "this tea has no flaw", he said. I was screaming in my apartment, " I want to taste it"!

I had some of the High Mountain Oolongs shipped to Seattle via express mail. The box magically showed up in two days. Of course, I couldn't wait and tasted them all in a row. 

At that moment, I understood what Rob meant by the tea was very good this season. I tasted the Alishan, it was so beautiful that I felt that I was in a garden. Then I proceeded to ShanLinXi, it was a good ShanLinXi as I remembered: citrus, fruity, and wonderful stimulation in the mouth. Then I moved on to HeHuanShan, I remembered I kept saying, " I like this tea, I like this tea......There is so much goodness going on". When I tasted the Lishan, this came to my mind, " Yes! Thank you! A well balanced, solid, good Lishan. Thank you!"
I heat up the water to prepare to brew DayuLing. To be honest, I didn't know what to expect. I have not carried this tea for many seasons. The first sip reached to my mouth. I had my eyes closed," Oh my! I have not tasted anything this buttery for a long time!" 

brewed leaves of DaYuLing

I remembered I read it somewhere saying that tea is the nectar of God. Yes, it is and it's magic. Tea leaves in a cup, and those farmers are able to transform a plant into a liquid that is so beautiful, complex and full of goodness. 

After so much high mountain tea, I felt pretty lively. I felt like I turned into a butterfly, happily flying around flowers in a beautiful garden. I felt very grateful of the farmers, the weather, and Rob. I felt fortune to be able to taste them. I had the wonderful flavor of tea lingering in my mouth, thinking, "Life is very good, isn't it?"