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

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Spring High Mountain Oolong

One of Floating Leaves Tea's tea buyers, Rob Bageant, went out to source our Spring High Mountain Oolongs last week. He was able to find us some High Mountain Oolongs with a smooth broth and clear HuiGan 回甘 (sweetness that returns to the throat area after you swallow the tea broth).

Tasting Spring Oolongs in Taiwan

He said that due to the unstable weather conditions, the bouquet of these High Mountain Oolongs might not be as strong (for example, lack of sunshine or too much rain), but with the highly-skilled tea farmers and producers, all of the tea he found us is smooth with wonderful HuiGan. I can't wait to taste them!

The first batch of High Mountain teas was sent over from Taiwan. I will be hosting some tastings soon.  Please check our blog and website for tasting times and dates.

sorting tea

*photos provided by Rob Bageant

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Muzha Tieguanyin Farmer Talking About Tea - Part II

As Farmer Chen brewed the third tea for us, he said, "To roast a tea this heavily takes courage. I have failed with thousands of jin 斤 (a weigh measurement of 600 grams) in order to learn. The temperatures goes up to 130 celcius. Normally people stop at 120." He said he wanted his tea to climb mountains, go to the peak, come back down to the valley, and then go back to the top. He said that when his tea arrives on the top of the mountain, it says thank you, and the mountain peak would talk back and say thank you as well. How beautiful! I savored the tea while busily translating.

He then talked about the Chinese character for "tea 茶." He said the tea character has three parts: grass, human, and tree (tea plant). The human does the work for the grass and the tea plant. While I was translating, everything made sense. Now I can't quite remember what he really meant! Well, I will ask him when I see him next time.

We drank more tea and his wife came out with some tea plums and crackers for us.

The farmer continued,"the third time when he shakes the green, he knows what the tea will be." He used Do-Re-Mi as an analogy. He said a good tea keeps going up from one infusion to the next. He said, "when making tea, I pull it in, let it go a little, pull in, let it go a little. I don't let my tea shine right away. My tea is more for the long haul. It keeps turning, and changing. I want my tea to be an endurance tea. I control when it peaks and how long it lasts by how I make it."

His smile and pride shone through his face. I felt so honored to share his knowledge with this incredible group of people, so open and so eager to take everything in. With my son's laughter in the background and delicious tea in front of me, I have to say, I am very lucky, and it was indeed a very good day!

*Thank you, Stephanie Wilson, for sharing the notes!
*photos provided by Matthew Kraus.

Thursday, May 08, 2014

An Update on this Spring's Oolong - Spring 2014

A view in PingLin. Photo provided by Matthew Kraus.

A couple of days ago, I was talking with one of Floating Leaves Tea buyers, Mr. Tsai, about our Baozhong. So far, he thinks this season's Baozhong is better than last season's. I am excited! He will go out to Farmer Chen's place and get us some Farmer's Choice Baozhong. He is hoping to send it out this Wednesday or Thursday. Our Spring Baozhong might arrive by the middle of May!

Our Dong Ding Traditional will be return to our tea lineup. It is scheduled to arrive around mid-May as well. I can't wait to taste this tea. A traditional Dong Ding is one of my favorite Oolongs from Taiwan.

Our other tea buyer, Rob, will be out next week to look for some good High Mountain Oolongs. Stay tuned. I will have more Spring Oolong updates soon!

Monday, May 05, 2014

2014 Taiwan Tea Tour

I am very excited to announce that I will be leading a tea tour to Taiwan this December! I have not been back there during the winter time for the past 12 years. I can't wait!

On this tea tour, we will focus more on tea processing and how to taste tea. For tea processing, the goal is for the participants to learn the basic concepts about outdoor oxidation and tea roasting. We will be tasting teas with farmers from 4 different farms and will learn from them what they look for in a tea that they specialize in producing. The tea farms that we will visit will be PingLin, Muzha, Alishan and Dong Ding.

The trip is scheduled to be from December 23rd to 31st. I will be updating the logistics on Floating Leaves Tea Website soon.

The following photos are from our May 2013 trip. They're so much fun to look at and bring back really nice memories.

Farmer Chen showed us outdoor oxidation at PingLin

Tea field on Dong Ding mountain

Tea picking in Muzha. Photo provided by Matthew Kraus

Indoor Oxidation on Alishan. Photo provided by Matthew Kraus

Friday, May 02, 2014

May Online Tea Class - Tieguanyin

I have set the date for May's Online Tea Class:

May 25th at 10am Pacific Time.

In this tea class, we will taste and learn more about lightly oxidized Anxi Tieguanyin, Modern Processed Taiwan Tieguanyin, Traditional Muzha Tieguanyin, Aged Muzha Tieguanyin, and I am hoping to get some traditional Anxi Tieguanyin for this class, too.

For information on the materials you will need for this class and how to sign up for it, please refer to our previous Online Tea Class Post: http://www.floatingleavestea.blogspot.com/2014/03/floating-leaves-tea-april-online-tea.html

I look forward to sharing some tea with you soon!

Thursday, May 01, 2014

Muzha Tieguanyin Farmer Talking About Tea - Part I

I have been planning my next Taiwan Tea Tour (it's tentatively scheduled to be around Christmas/New Year's time - more information coming soon), and remembered that I didn't finish writing about 2013's May Tea Tour. It's almost the anniversary!

I have been wanting to write about what the Muzha Farmer taught us during our previous trip. One of the tour members, Stephanie Wilson, is a great note taker and she has been very generous to share her notes with me. When I went through her notes just now, it immediately brought me back to when we drank tea at the Muzha tea house.

photo provided by Matthew Kraus

I have known Farmer Zhang for about 4 years now. He is one of my favorite tea people in the whole world. I love his smile and his dedication to good tea. The more I know about him, the more I respect him as a farmer and as a tea person. He doesn't simply grow tea and make tea. Tea is an art and love for him. And he "designs" his tea and hopes that tea drinkers can understand what he tries to present.

After we sat down to have tea with Farmer Zhang, Stephanie noticed and wrote in her note," Great smile, dirt under his nails....being from a farming family myself, I love that." I love that, too! The following picture is Farmer Zhang, and I hope you can see what we saw in him that day.

photo provided by Stephanie Wilson

The first tea he served us was one that he had just finished roasting about an hour before we had arrived. Through this tea, he guided us to taste the base and broth. He told us that the tea was not quite ready and the energy wouldn't be showing up fully yet, but he wanted us to taste something that was he had just finished working on. He then asked me where this group "was" in their tea abilities. I told him some of them could taste tea very well.

He proceeded to brew the next tea. He said, "Tieguanyin is a slow tea - you cannot hurry it. It takes about a month to open. If hurried, it becomes bitter. A good Tieguanyin liquor is yellow with a red base." Then he continued, "When I am checking a tea, if I can make a pot for 9 to 10 times, then the tea can withstand 50 years. Good tea is hard to find, just like true love. One must know the tea by going really far to see if it's good. Whether a tea can last through the years is dependent upon the tea maker."

photo provided by Matthew Kraus

While I am writing this, I am sipping his 2012 Tieguanyin. Part of me is here and part of me is in Taiwan. I think I will stop now and just savor his tea for a while. I will continue with the notes in my next post.

Meanwhile, if you want to read more about our trip, please check out Stephanie's blog: http://stephcupoftea.blogspot.com/search/label/Taiwan%20Tea%20Tour She has wonderful writings about the trip and the tea!