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

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Chinese Tea Ceremony?

I prefer to make tea using the Gong Fu style. Many people see this when they came into the tea shop and have asked:" Are you doing a tea ceremony?"

Perhaps there is a Chinese Tea Ceremony that I am not aware of. I think Gong Fu Cha is one of many ways to brew tea and it's just the way that I prefer.

In Taiwan, one can see people brewing Oolong tea in a clay tea pot or Gaiwan in many places. The first time that I experienced Gong Fu Cha was at my cousin's house. Her father drinks Oolong every day. Every time he'd see me, he would always ask me if I would like a cup. I was about 8 years old at that time. Drinking tea at a young age is not an issue in Taiwan.

When I was in high school, I liked to go to a classmate's house to study. Her father would brew tea and would also ask me if I'd like to have some. I started to notice that there were different kinds of tea and they all tasted good to me.

Outside of big cities, you will see people brewing Gong Fu Cha in the house, underneath a big tree (it gets really hot in Taiwan), on the sidewalk, and in shops.

Nowadays in big cities, there are many tea houses that serve Gong Fu Cha. Friends will meet at tea houses and visit over pots of tea. The atmosphere is very relaxing and everybody is busy talking. And of course, there are tea snacks. The varieties of tea snacks are amazing: seasoned plums, toasted seeds, almond cakes, crackers, tea eggs, etc....

So what's my point here? One doesn't need to treat Gong Fu Cha as serious as a tea ceremony. Gong Fu Cha can be very quiet with one brewing tea and appreciating tea alone. Or Kong Fu Cha can be enjoyed with a group of people, drinking tea, talking, eating and having a good time.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

New Winter Oolong Review - Part II

I have had these new winter Oolongs for 5 days now. Some of them started to change. I will do a more detail reviews in a couple of weeks. The tea might settle down more by then.
But anyway, here are some new High Mountain Oolongs that I just tasted:

ShanLinXi: This tea is very full body and have a nice fruit note. I made five infusions and the body and bouquet stayed all the way.

Lishan A: This Lishan is way softer than the ShanLinXi. It has a very smooth body and a delicate floral bouquet.

Buddha Hand: This is a very strong high mountain tea. Every infusion has a strong cooked vegetable and a hint of honey sweetness to it.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

A Quick Review On Winter High Mountain Tea

Here are some quick tasting notes on some of the high mountain teas that I received and tomorrow, I will give some more notes on one more Lishan, Shanlinxi, and Buddha Hand.

Alishan: It's very nice and smooth on the mouth-feel. This Alishan only has a little floral bouquet. The smoothness will last through all the infusions(I stopped at the fifth infusion). No much changes among the infusions.

Alishan A: This Alishan has a bigger floral bouquet compared to the previous one. The first infusion didn't show up much body or floral note. The second one unfolded. The fragrance will stay through all the infusions. The body feels lighter than the previous one but very delicate. It's a pretty balance tea.
Lishan: This Lishan has enough body. The first two infusions carried a nice floral note. The third and fourth carried a bit honey and fruit note.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Taiwanese Tea Varietals

In my last post, I talked about Chin Hsin Oolong and Chin Hsin Da Pa. Here are some other varietals that are as popular as the previous two.

In 1895, Japan occupied Taiwan and set up a tea research institute for educating tea farmers, and selecting and breeding tea varietals. After WWII, the Taiwanese government continued the tea breeding work with 茶葉改良場, the tea reform institute. So far, there are 18 successful varietals that the tea instutite has named.

Jin Xuan金萱: In 1981, Jin Xuan was given its current name. Among the 18 recognized varietals that have been bred, Jin Xuan is number 12 (台茶12號). In the breeding process, it was also given 2027. If you ever go to Taiwan, you might hear farmers talking about 12 or 27. Both of these numbers refer to Jin Xuan, so don't be confused. Jin Xuan yeilds 20 to 40% more tea per plant than Chin Hsin Oolong and Chin Hsin Da Pa. Its signature fragrance is like osmanthus (桂花香) or milk (奶香). I have not come across a genuine milky one for a long time. Some customers came in with some milk Oolong and said tea merchants told them the tea plant was watered with milk, which produced the milky taste. I have never seen or heard any farmers doing that. The amount of Jin Xuan plants grown is only next to Chin Hsin Oolong. Jin Xuan plant branches grow wider, and its leaves have an oval shape and are bigger than Chin Hsin Oolong. Jin Xuan is widely grown throughout Taiwan in elevations less than 1600 meters.

Cui Yu 翠玉: Like Jin Xuan, this varietal was also named in 1981. Cui Yu is number 13 (台茶13號) and also number 2029. Cui Yu produces 20% more tea per plant than Chin Hsin and Chin Hsin Da Pa. It normally has a hint of Jasmine (茉莉花香) or Yu Lan flower (玉蘭花香). Cui Yu is rarely grown in the high moutain region, for its stems contain too much water. The chance to make high quality tea, like that from other tea varietals, is lower. Cui Yu plants are more straight and its leaves are rounder.

Four Season's Spring/Four Season's (四季春): A farmer in Mu Zha discovered this varietal. It's believed to be the product of a cross breed between Wu Yi and Chin Hsin Oolong or Chin Hsin Da Pa. This tea grows fast and has 6 crops per year. Farmers like to make this tea when they can't or aren't working on other teas. Four Season Spring plants are medium in size and its branches grow closer to each other.

In the next post, we will talk a bit about Buddha's Hand, White Hair Monkey, Tieguanyin, and Wuyi.