Monday, May 23, 2011
It has been a great trip and it was great to see our tea farmers and wonderful tea-industry people again.
Due to a colder and longer winter, the tea is being harvested later in the season and production is low, too. It seems like everyone has been waiting impatiently and excitedly for the Spring tea to be finished and ready. I was deeply grateful that my tea friend saved me some good high mountain oolongs for me to taste; I went back home to southern Taiwan for a while and the Spring teas were selling quickly. Yes, tea sells really fast in Taiwan, especially at the beginning of a new season! I am pretty excited about the Lishan and DaYuLing, and can't wait to share it with you.
As for Baozhong, the Competition tea is not ready yet, so a tea friend that is a Baozhong expert will choose the tea and send it to me when it's ready. I personally chose Farmer's Choice Baozhong and will bring some back with me. I think this season's Baozhong tastes better than the previous season's.
I was very happy to meet up with Mr. Zhan, who is quite an expert at roasting Dong Ding with charcoal. He is such a gentle person and it feels really peaceful to drink tea with him. He doesn't have much charcoal roasted tea left. He told me that his health hasn't been too good these years so he can't roast too much tea. Before I left, I took hold of his hands and asked him to take care. I told him that we will continue to love his tea for many years to come.
A lot of new gaiwans have been sent out, so we should have them in stock sometime in June. I also found some yixing pots that should work especially well with Taiwanese Oolongs.
I am leaving for Seattle tomorrow. Floating Leaves Tea shop will be open again starting on Wednesday. See you soon, with some tasty new teas to try!
Thursday, May 19, 2011
Today I went up to Pinglin to taste some Baozhong. Due to the colder weather, the Baozhong is being harvested later than usual, so all of the competition tea is still at the competition hall. Today is only the second day of the tea competition.
We focused on tasting Farmer's Choice Baozhong today. Farmer Chen likes to work with a lot of tea varietals, so he brewed us not just Baozhong from Chin Hsin Oolong, but he also let us try Baozhong tea that is made from the "Slow Growth" varietal and also one made from the Shui Xian varietal. It was so interesting to try different types of Baozhong. We all agreed that the Shui Xian Baozhong tasted very different from the others, but it will taste even better if it's roasted a bit. The Slow Growth varietal of Baozhong tasted interesting and it's noticeably sweeter than the rest. Farmer Chen told me it will really open up after a couple of months.
My tea friends and I agreed on the one we liked the most and I am very excited to share that tea with you soon.
As for high mountain teas, I have tasted a some from Alishan and Lishan. So far, my impression is that the quality is good and the tea has a very soft tea broth. Tomorrow, my day will be spent focused on tasting high mountain teas. After my initial impressions from tasting a few of them already, I think this season's high mountain oolongs are good and I am excited to bring some delicious teas back to Seattle!
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
After an afternoon of tea drinking and tea learning, Mrs. Zhang cooked a wonderful lunch for us made up of locally grown foods. I have to say she is a very good cook!
Tomorrow I will share more from our Muzha experience.
Shrimp cooked with tea
Tea fried rice
Farmer Zhang brews tea for us
Cold brewed tea
View of Taipei from the Maokong cable car
Cable cars to Maokong / Muzha
Sunday, May 15, 2011
Also, a big thank you to my co-guide Maggie. She is a fellow foodie from Taiwan and a trained chef as a well, so she added a lot of useful knowledge to the group.
I have many more pictures and stories to share in the coming weeks, after I finish this season's tea buying. I'll be back to the shop in a little more than a week and would love to see you all again then.
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
Enjoying a break after our hike
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
It has been colder than usual for this spring's Taiwanese Oolong. When we arrived on Alishan, the farmers were just starting to pick tea. We were lucky to get to participate in a lot of the tea making process.
Tea rolling to shape the oolong balls
"Stir Green" is a process to help water evaporate evenly from the leaves; its needed for the oxidation of the tea leaves and help them "waken" with the right flavor at the right time
A tea maker showed us how to "stir green"
Outdoor withering and oxidizing
Monday, May 09, 2011
This spring has been colder and longer than usual, so the tea is being picked later in the season. When we went up to Alishan, we were very lucky with the weather and were able to pick tea as soon as we arrived. We had a great time picking tea with the tea pickers and had a simple lesson from one of them, who showed us what to pick and where to pick. It was fun for the tour members to be on Alishan, learning from the tea pickers and tea makers about famous high mountain tea. Some of tea leaves turned into a dish that we ate. Those deep fried tea leaves were delicious!
Delicious fried tea leaves
Wednesday, May 04, 2011
After breakfast, we all went up to Pinglin to visit the Baozhong fields. My friends, Farmer Chen and his wife, were very happy to see us. They immediately asked us to sit down and we enjoyed having lots of Baozhong tea with them.
After lunch, we went to the Chen's tea farm and we had a great time picking tea. After collecting enough tea leaves, we went to their house where they processed the leaves for us. Mr. Chen showed us how to do outdoor oxidizing and explained the basic process of how he makes Baozhong tea. We were all very grateful that he and his wife took the time to show us his farm, share with us lots of information and of course, provide us with many of their delicious Baozhongs to drink.
We started our first day at the famous Wistaria Tea House in Taipei. It was great to be there, relaxing and enjoying some very good teas. We received an excellent tea lecture from Zhou Yu and a delicious meal as well. Here are some photos to share. I will write more about the experience after I get over my jet-lag. Enjoy!
The start of a tea ceremony with an old tree puer
Drinking a smooth & delicious aged Dong Ding
Lunch at Wistaria Teahouse
A beautiful flower arrangement