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

Thursday, June 16, 2011

This Spring's Tea Offerings

Since I have been back, many of you have come into the shop to taste our new tea offerings. Thank you! The news teas have finally been listed on the website.

I want to especially thank online tea customers for your patience and your trust in our teas. I hope that someday we can all sit down and drink some tea together. Thank you all for your support of Floating Leaves Tea!

I am really liking this season's tea a lot. I think they all have wonderful, clear and unique characters! And I hope you are enjoying the tea, too. A note about this season's teas: due to a longer period of cold weather this past season, a lot of the tea is very tender. I suggest that you adjust the quantity of tea or the brewing time that you normally use. I have noticed that the tea's flavor generally "releases" much faster than usual.

Also, one of our tea tour members, Marilyn, writes a blog. She just published some posts with her experiences from our Taiwan 2011 tea tour:

She has great pictures. Check them out!

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Taiwan Tea Trip: Muzha Part III

The Chinese say that to make a good tea takes Time/Weather 天時, Location/Soil 地利, and Human/Skills 人和. After several years of watching how an Oolong is made, I have to say I have a lot of respect for those dedicated tea farmers.

Traditional Tieguanyin is rich in its body and flavor. This tea takes more oxidation 發酵, stirring 攪拌, and roasting 烘焙 when compared to Baozhong and High Mountain Oolongs. In fact, it takes more work than just about any other oolong tea. On our most recent tea tour, we were lucky to see part of the oxidation and stirring processes.

We went inside a small room where there was a metal tube, a tumbling machine, and a tea rolling machine. We also saw small balls of tea on the floor. Farmer Zhang opened one ball and loosened up the tea leaves a bit on a bamboo tray, then he tossed the leaves in a tube that heated up the leaves (I forgot to ask what the temperature in the tube was). Once in a while, he would reach in and feel the tea. I remembered one time I was on Dong Ding mountain and a tea maker offered to let me reach in the tube and feel the leaves. I turned down that opportunity because I noticed that temperature read 300C and I could hear a hissing sound from the leaves!

After he poured the leaves out of the tube, he rolled them up and would then pick up another ball of tea from the ground and repeat the process. He told us that he had to do this about 50 times!

Tieguanyin is known for its roasting. Farmer Zhang told us that he would do one roasting and let the tea rest for about two weeks before doing further roastings. He said a lot of customers go to him for Tieguanyin that was done a year or two ago. After that amount of time, the tea's fire will mellow, which makes the tea rounder and smoother. He said Baozhong and high mountain oolongs are designed to be drunk when fresh. That kind of tea is bright and the energy focuses on the head and mouth area, while Tieguanyin's focus is on the throat area and its energy travels down through one's whole body.

And here is the delicious cup of tea the farmer is looking for.......

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Taiwan Tea Trip- Muzha Part II

I have always enjoyed visiting Farmer Zhang up at Muzha. I love seeing his smile and his dedication to tea. He told us good tea starts with the right varietal, which is the Tieguanyin varietal Hong Xin Wai Wei Tao 紅心歪尾桃 that his ancestors brought over from China.

He also told us that tea plants need good care and he was very proud to show us a huge photo album of his Lupine flowers. He said they are great for fertilizing his tea plants and because of them, he doesn't need to use artificial fertilizers.

We were very lucky that one of the tour members, Jim Miller, knows a lot about plants. Jim explained how Lupine works: " Lupines, which are in the same family as the pea/legume(Fabaceae) are "Nitrogen-fixing." By that, I mean, they draw nitrogen from the air and store it in nodules on their roots. Therefore, they make great "green-manure." They are called " cover crops" and are grown to turn into the soil in which they grew. This can be done in two ways:
1. About a month before planting, a desired crop, the cover crop, may be dug and turned over to decompose in the soil. This adds the Nitrogen in the roots and the plants fibrous material to the soil. This improves the soil and feeds the plants.
2. Or, they can be cut at ground level, which leaves the roots with the nitrogen to feed the plants around them and the cut plants serve s a "mulch" which holds in water and prohibits weeds from germinating. The fibrous material which is added to the soil increase the organic level of the soil. As these substances decompose, they improve air and water-holding capacity to the soil. So by growing cover crops (Lupines), protects the soil from erosion during the winter, adds nutrients in the form of nitrogen, which all leafy plants need for foliage; tea leaves, and improves soil with organic material."