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

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Organic Teas in Taiwan

During my trip to Taiwan this past May, I encountered more organic tea and organic tea farming publications in Taiwan than ever before. I learned that some Buddhist Organizations are pushing for organic farming movements in Taiwan, too. They work with the Taiwan Tea Reform Institute(茶葉改良場) and the Council of Agriculture to encourage more farmers to become certified organic producers.

The publication that I read is from the Taiwan Formosa Organic Association or FOA (臺灣寶島有機農業發展協會). There are some wonderful articles on farmers' dedications to organic farming. They are very touching and inspiring. For example, they featured one Farmer Lee who is already 75 years old. His family grew vegetables. At the age of 60, he was introduced by a friend to volunteer at a local temple. With time, he noticed that many of the monks had some health issues. He went to ask a doctor friend about their condition and the doctor friend told him that too many soybean products and pesticides can cause the symptoms that the monks had. The volunteer who took care of the vegetables at the temple worked very hard to make sure that all of the vegetables are "beautiful and big," so he used lots of pesticides for that. After Farmer Lee discovered that, he realized how important it is to do healthy organic farming and went back to school to learn about organic farming. He came to the US once and discovered that in America, 25% of all pesticides are used in growing just cotton. After he went back to Taiwan, he worked very hard and finally discovered a way to control the insects attacking cotton without dangerous pesticides. His daughter also joined him and worked on their organic cotton farm.

While I was in Taiwan, I received a tea gift from a dear friend of mine. The tea is a transitional organic tea. It is certified and sponsored by an organization called Ci-Xin (慈心). When I first brewed the tea in a gaiwan, I really didn't like it. One day, I tried it out using the "grandpa style" (just toss some tea in a cup or bowl and add hot water). The tea had way more body and flavor!
Three days ago, I received another organic tea sample from a friend. After I tried it, I thought it would be a good product to carry and to share with my customers. I called my friend last night to inquire about the tea and he told me that unfortunately, the tea is sold out! I told him that I really want to support organic tea from Taiwan and it would be great for our American friends to have more access to our organic teas. After 5 minutes of consideration, he told me that he would keep a bit of the sold-out tea for Floating Leaves Tea so that more people could have a chance to try it. I was so grateful! This tea is lightly oxidized and my friend roasted it a bit. The first infusion has a yummy roasted note and then it reminds me of the Mi Xiang Oolong (蜜香烏龍-Honey Fragrant Oolong).
My friend said that organic tea farming is more risky to produce. The product's taste is more difficult to stabilize and the yield is lower than non-organic products. It also takes more work and costs more to produce organic tea than non-organic ones. Because of these factors, a lot of farmers don't want to make organic lightly oxidized Oolong, especially since there is already so much demand for regular, lightly oxidized teas. So far, most farmers are making organic teas using black tea or more highly oxidized Oolong.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Annual Sale at Floating Leaves Tea

Floating Leaves Tea has been at our current location for two years now. Thank you all for coming into the shop and sharing a cup of tea with me. It's always fun and a pleasure to drink some tea with you. For those who can't come in the shop and have been ordering tea through our website, I want to thank you for finding us and for your continuous support. I hope sometime in the future, we will be able to meet for tea.

We will be celebrating our anniversary with our annual sale. Starting this Sunday, August 8th and ending two weeks later on the 22nd, all of our current season's tea and teaware will be 15% off. Take advantage of this great opportunity to stock up on your favorite teas. Our Farmer's Choice Baozhong, 2nd place Baozhong, Alishan Din Hu, and ShanLinXi are all very low in stock, so get some before they run out.