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

Monday, December 30, 2013

2013 Winter Baozhong

Our Winter Baozhong has arrived! The tea has already opened up, so I was able to compare it to our Spring Baozhong, which is also from Farmer Chen.

The Gaiwan on the bottom is Winter 2013 Farmer's Choice Baozhong

Before the tea arrived, I had heard that this winter has been warmer than usual during the tea harvest. I was a bit worried. After I tasted the winter crop of tea, my impression is that both seasons' tea is equally good, which makes me very happy. 

I tasted both seasons' Baozhong Farmer's Choice side by side. Both teas have very solid tea broths. I think the spring Baozhong was just a bit heavier, but it's really hard to notice the difference. Our spring Baozhong has an orange-like aftertaste and the winter one has a brighter, citrus aftertaste. 

Left is the brewed leaves from Winter season. Right is from Spring Season. 

Left is tea broth from Winter Baozhong, right is tea broth from Spring season.

I am satisfied with this winter Baozhong crop. It's solid and smooth with a clean citrus aftertaste. Try it and I think you will be happy with this tea, too. 

In my next post, I will write about the differences of our High Mountain Oolongs between the Spring and Winter seasons. 

Meanwhile, enjoy a good cup of tea and have a great year in 2014!

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Oolong Refresh/Roast Part II

Here are the rest of the tea roasting results from our Oolong Roast classes.

I had a bag of Alishan that had been open for too long. The tea base was good, but a little bit stale. I thought it would be fun to touch it up and see if I could get some of its original flavor to return. I found this to be the most challenging refresh roast. I refreshed this tea at 40C for one hour and the result was just exactly what I wanted! I tried it one more time using exactly the same method, but the tea didn't change much. Then I tried to refresh this Alishan with 40C for 30 minutes and then increased the heat to 50C for another 30 minutes. The tea tasted good, but a little roasted. Super sensitive tea!

Next, we tasted a Muzha Tieguanyin Maocha. I got this Maocha from Farmer Zhang last year. The tea base was very good and I had a great time roasting this one! I wanted to turn this Maocha into a very roasted Tieguanyin. I started with 40C for an hour. I increased the heat by 10 degrees every hour. I finished the roasting at 80C. The tea became a very roasted tea. How fun!

Some of you have sent your roasting results to me. Thank you!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Floating Leaves Tea New Tea Bar

This is the big project that I have recently been working on. It all started with wanting to combine my different working spaces into one (I was serving tea from a tea table and had a separate counter to pack tea/cash register/paper work). From that, the idea for a tea bar was born.

Three days ago, some friends came and helped to pack up the things in the tea shop and to prepare the space for installing the tea bar. Two days ago, the tea bar was installed and we spent the rest of the day moving the furniture (and boxes) out of the way and trying to figure out the best arrangement for everything.

Yesterday, I spent the whole day unpacking things and trying to locate the things I need the most for running the business. We also put all of the tea and teaware back on the shelves.

Today, I spent half of the day sorting out things (I also had to give my brain a break). In the afternoon, we finally cleared out enough space around the tea bar so that we could enjoy a delicious pot of Tieguanyin!

There is still more work to do to make the shop look organize, but I am already super excited with the new look and change! I am hoping to accommodate more people for tea classes, and to offer a more organized, open space for customers to come in and browse.

We will be having a celebration party soon. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Oolong Refresh/Roast Part I

This past week, I did two really fun tea refresh/roast classes. Here are some results:

During the first class, we worked on a Buddha's Hand Oolong I received in Spring 2012. The bag of tea was rolled up, but it had not vacuum sealed after I opened it last year. The tea was a bit stale and it lost some of its strength. I initially thought to turn it into a medium roasted tea, but didn't like the results from my experimentation. The "Buddha's Hand" fruit taste disappeared quite a lot through the roasting. I roasted a second batch and intended to preserve the Buddha's Hand tea flavor. I touched this tea up in my mini tea roaster for just about an hour: 40C for 30 minutes and then 50C for 30 minutes. The touched up tea is noticeably more fruity and has more tea body, too!

Next, we tasted a DaWuYeh Phoenix Oolong. The original tea tasted fine, but I wanted it to have a deeper body. I touched this Phoenix Oolong up in the mini tea roaster for more than an hour: 40C for one hour and 50C for another 20 minutes. The tea tasted deeper, with a longer lasting aftertaste, too.

Then I used a candle and a Yixing tea pot to do spot roasting. I wanted to show the participants that they can easily use a small tea light to roast some tea at home. To make this method easier, you can use a butter warmer stand and set the tea pot on top so that you don't need to hold the pot the whole time. Some butter warmer stands are taller than others and will cause the tea pot to heat up a lot, so from time to time, lift the tea pot from the stand and set it aside for a bit. This method only takes around 15 to 20 minutes and the results are pretty clear. You will have a nicely roasted Oolong to drink for sure!

In my next post, I will share experiences and insight from our second roasting class. If you ever try any of this at home, please share your results with me!

Monday, October 07, 2013

Comparing Menghai Factory Puer #7542

In our previous tea club meeting, we tasted seven 7542 puer cakes. As usual, we had a great time drinking tea together. Here are some tasting notes:

We started with a 2011 #7542 puer cake. Overall, the tea is a good daily drinker. The tea broth has a medium amount of body.

Then we proceeded to brew two 2008 cakes side by side. One of the 2008 cakes is from a drier environment. Both teas still taste green and young. At this stage, we prefer the cake from the drier storage, because the tea has more aftertaste. Between 2011 to 2008, we noticed the liquid of the 20098 teas are a bit thicker.

We finalized our tasting with 4 different years of 7542: a 2003, 1997, 1991, and a 1988. The 1991 cake has clearly been in wet storage. Both of the 1991 and 1988 tea broths have changed into that beautiful, dark amber color, and have a much richer mouthfeel, too. Amazingly, we all like the wet storage cake the best. The bad "wet storage" taste is not in the broth at all and it turned out to be the richest and roundest tea among these 4 teas.

Our impression of the 7542 cake recipe is that it's a good tea to have on a daily basis. If one stores the cake long enough, it will turn into a nice warm, sweet, and thick cup of tea.

*photos provided by Jason Gift.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Water Temperature For Oolong

I am often asked about the temperature of the water I use for my teas. My answer is pretty much always "boiling." I want to clarify that the teas I drink the most are Taiwanese Oolong and Puer. This post will mainly be about Taiwanese Oolong.

When I am in Taiwan, I watch and ask tea farmers and tea people what temperature they use for their Oolong teas. So far, no matter where I am in Taiwan, I always see them use boiling water for tea. I also notice that they don't boil their water for every infusion. I have asked them why, and they have said that after one boils up the same pot of hot water for the third time, the water is considered "dead." So here is generally what I see in Taiwan:  farmers and tea people boil their water for the first infusion, and then by the 3rd or 4th infusion, they will boil the same pot of water again, for the 2nd time.

I thought it would be fun to experiment with water temperature. I had two tea friends over to taste teas with me. We brewed our Baozhong Competition Style with 190 degree, 200 degree and boiling water. We all prefer the Baozhong brewed with boiling water. It had more bouquet, body, and aftertaste. We noticed the Baozhong brewed with the lower temperatures had more sweetness.

Then we proceeded to brew the Dong Ding Select at different water temperatures. Again, we all liked the Dong Ding infused with boiling water the most.

Try it out at home and figure out what you like the most!

*Photos provided by Douglas King.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Floating Leaves Tea - New Business Hours

Many of you have watched my son growing up in the tea shop. He goes to Kindergarten this year! Floating Leaves Tea will have a new business hours to match up his schedule.

New Business Hours:

Tuesday to Saturday: 11am to 6pm
Closed on Sunday and Monday

Thank you for understanding. See you all soon for a cup of tea!

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Floating Leaves Tea is 8 Years Old!

It feels like not so long ago that we celebrated Floating Leaves Tea's 7th birthday. On August 8th, Floating Leaves will turn 8!

It has been a very good year. We launched a tea club and I have been having great tea sessions with  wonderful groups of tea people.

Thank you all for taking the time to come visit, especially to those who don't live in Washington state but still took the time to visit. It's always a delight and an honor to share some tea with you.

This past May, I took 6 wonderful tea lovers to Taiwan and we had a blast! Thank you, Masa, Jan, Ana, Stephanie, David, and Matthew, for making this trip possible and for making the experiences magical!

And thank you, tea farmers, for making us all of these delicious teas!

We want to thank you for helping Floating Leaves Tea make it this far. On August 8th, all of our tea will be on sale at 20% off, and the sale will last for a week. Please take the chance to try out new teas or stock up on your favorites. All the teas have been opening up and they are delicious!

Thank you once again for all of the support. I look forward to seeing you very soon to share some tea with me and to thank you in person.

*Special thanks to a beautiful couple who has been helping out with the Floating Leaves Tea website and with all of my computer questions.

Thank you, my blog editor, for editing my posts and for reminding me when it's time to write more! You are the best and will get free tea for life.

Thank you, Doug, for all of your time and for the beautiful photos of the tea and of the shop.

My deep gratitude to all of you for making Floating Leaves Tea a better place.

Sunday, August 04, 2013


I have been asked a lot of questions regarding water, temperature, tea ratio, brewing time, etc.... Over the next couple of blogs, I will answer these questions based upon my observations in Taiwan.

*photo by Douglas King

First, what kind of water is best for making tea with? When I am with farmers in Taiwan, I ask what kind of water they use for tea. Most of the time, the answer is they use the water that runs down from the hills.

*photo by Matthew Kraus

When I was writing this, I thought it might be fun to taste some spring water vs Seattle tap water to see if there would be a huge impact on tea. I had 4 tea friends join me for this fun tasting. I bought Fiji water and Arrowhead water for this tasting. Why did I choose those two brands? I went to a 7-11 near my shop and that's what they have available for spring water.

First round, we tasted just the water itself. Spring water does taste "more alive" than filtered tap water (tastes more flat).

*Photo by Douglas King

Then I brewed our HeHuanShan Oolong in a competition style with these three kinds of water. The differences between the waters was very obvious in this round of tasting. We all agreed that HeHuanShan brewed with filtered tap water is more flat, but we couldn't agree which spring water showed the best result for HeHuanShan. Very interestingly, the tea broth from the tap water was much lighter.

*the above two photos by Douglas King

After this, we proceeded to brew a raw XiaGuan Tuocha from the 90's with these three waters. The differences among these three kinds of water were not as big. Spring water made the puer taste a bit better, but not by much more than the filtered tap water.

*the two photos above by Matthew Kraus.

We finished off our tasting with a Muzha Tieguanyin. Once again, the tea broth from the filtered water was lighter and this time, pretty much everyone liked the brew made with Fiji water the best.

We are blessed to be in Seattle, where our water is from the mountains. Unfortunately, the city puts in some stuff to make the water "safe" for people to drink. Because of the treatment, it also makes the water flatter than natural spring water. If you can find a way to get natural water in your region, that might be the best water for your tea. After all, bottled water is harsh on the environment.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Taiwan Tea Tour: Taipei Old District, and Music Day 9

Now it's time to finish my writings about our 2013 Spring Taiwan Tea Tour.

After days of visiting tea farmers and tea farms, we took day 9 of the tour to explore the neighborhood around our hotel. We stayed in an old district of Taipei. There is a street full of shops that sell dried goods and herbs. It used to be the place to go for people who need to buy things for Chinese New Year's celebrations. I love walking on this street. I can imagine the old times, when people gathered around looking for the herbs and dried goods they needed. There are, of course, many tea places among all these shops. We stopped and admired the tea ware and drank tea with the shop owners.

After that, we went to Wang's tea shop. It's one of the oldest tea businesses in Taipei. I love that there is a tea roasting site there! Once again, I felt like I had stepped back in time and imagined how people worked with charcoal tea roasting. We were lucky that the shop was roasting tea on the day that we visited. It was warm and smelled good!

On the second floor, they have live music every Saturday. We helped ourselves to some tea and settled down to listen to the music. It's a type of traditional southern Chinese music, called NanGuan. There are five instruments, and normally one of the musicians also sings. We saw around 12 musicians hanging out on one side of the room and they would rotate to play music. When they stopped, we found some musicians who were kind enough to tell us a bit about their instruments and music. It was quite humid that day. With the music going on around us and a cup of tea in my hand, I was relaxed and happy.

After the music, we decided not to do much more and went back to our hotel room and drank tea! We stopped by a bakery and picked up A LOT OF baked goods to go with the tea. Who would have known that drinking tea in a hotel room could be so much fun! After cups of delicious tea and various baked goods, we finished our gathering with a shot of sorghum liquor. We indeed had a very good day!

Friday, June 07, 2013

Tea Tasting Schedule For New Oolongs

I hope you have enjoyed reading about our 2013 Taiwan Tea Tour. There is more to come, so stay tuned!

I came back with a lot of delicious new teas. I added 2 new High Mountain Oolongs to our High Mountain Oolong lineup. I am very satisfied with every single one of them. The Lishan Tea is complex and intriguing. The HeHuanShan is delicate and balanced. The Lushan Tea is full-bodied and bold. The Alishan is light and has a wonderful aftertaste.

We've also added a HongShui Oolong and a GuiFeiMeiRen. Both have a nice sweetness and are very easy going types of tea. Our Dong Ding Select is back in our lineup as well. Don't miss this tea because it tends to run out fast and it's hard to say when we can get more!

I was also very happy to add two of Farmer Zhang's Muzha Tieguanyin to our selection. They are just so solid and good, with great energy.

While I can go on and on about all of our new teas, I think the best way to get to know them is come and taste them. I am offering special tastings next weekend for you to taste these delicious new teas. Please grab this rare opportunity. It's only $5 per tasting and space is limited, so please reserve your seat.

-Baozhong Tasting: June 15th at 12. We will be tasting the new 2013 Spring Farmer's Choice Baozhong, Competition Style Baozhong, and 2nd Place Baozhong.

-High Mountain Oolong Tasting: June 15th at 1:30pm. We will be tasting the Alishan, Lushn, HeHuanShan, and Lishan.

-High Mountain Oolong Tasting: June 16th at 12 for the same four teas as listed above.

-Roasted Oolong Tasting: June 16th at 1:30pm. We will be tasting Taiwan Wuyi, Dong Ding Select, Muzha Tieguanyin, HongShui Oolong, and possibly an Aged Oolong.

See you all here and happy tea drinking!

*Photo provided by Masa Ellis.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Taiwan Tea Tour, SheShui Day 8

It was wonderful to wake up to the sounds of birds and insects. The view outside of the B&B was beautiful!

After breakfast, Mr. Chen took us out for another hike. I loved the hike, so warm and sweaty, and there is so much greenery out there! I hope the pictures can express how much beauty we came across during the hike. Enjoy!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Taiwan Tea Tour, SheShui Day 7

I wanted to take the tour group to Taiwan's black tea producing region on this trip, but I was really worried that there would be too many tourists at the popular Sun Moon Lake area.

I was fortunate to find a B&B in the SheShui area (10 minutes away from Sun Moon Lake). I contacted the owner and he sounded like a very nice person. He told me that they also have tea farms and he would be happy to show us around.

It turned out to be a wonderful choice. His B&B is located in a small community built after the big earthquake. It's very quiet there. Outside of the building, they have replanted some tea trees that he said were from the original Japanese occupation area.

We decided to join them for their afternoon tea service. It was fun. Black tea with quiche and chocolate cake, very different from all the Oolongs we have been drinking on the tour.

After the afternoon tea, the owner, Mr Chen, took us for a hike to visit their tea fields. He told us this region produces a lot of black tea. Mr. Chen said that a lot of farmers here are dedicated to organic farming. They love the land here and want it to go on for generations. I was very touched to hear that and it was wonderful to be in the middle of it the fields.

We saw a lot of older tea trees. Some are the Assam varietal, some are Ruby 18 varietal, and some are cross-breeds of local tea plants with Assam. We hiked to the top of the hill and saw that the whole field is full of tea plants from the Japanese occupation era. We tasted the tea and it's softer and gentler than the black tea made from Ruby 18 varietal. What a great day!