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

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!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Taiwan Tea Tour, Alishan Tea Processing - Part II

Weighing the oxidized tea leaves for "Big Stirring":

The tea leaves after the Big Stir:

"Kill Green" (using high heat to stop oxidation):

Bruising the leaves to break down more cells and bring the leaf juices to the surface:

Using even heat to redistribute the moisture from the leaves, while preparing other batches of leaves that have just finished the killing green process. Next, it will be time for shaping the leaves:

*Thank you, Matthew, for the photos.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Taiwan Tea Tour, Alishan Tea Processing - Part I

It was wonderful to watch the tea making process. Each step of the process has a special charm and a uniquely beautiful aroma. Even standing in the tea fields without doing anything makes me happy.

Tea picking:

Tea pickers charge by how many leaves they pick:

Indoor oxidation:

A tea factory owner showed us how to "Stir Green":

In a more modern tea factory, things are more scientific and exact. They weigh the leaves after oxidizing to do the "Big Stir" (breaking the cells down from further oxidation):

Friday, May 17, 2013

Taiwan Tea Tour, Alishan Day 5

I love being in Alishan. It's so green and full of wonderful trees and bamboo forests.

I am happy that farmer Zhang had some time to show us around this time. I enjoyed talking and hiking with him.

And of course, we got to drink their freshly made Alishan tea. I think the overall quality of this season's tea is better than last winter. I am excited to bring back some Alishan from their tea fields and I can't wait to share them with you!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Taiwan Tea Tour, Muzha Tieguanyin Day 4

Before our appointment with Farmer Zhang, we took some time to walk around the Muzha area. We were very lucky to discover pickers harvesting tea. They were very nice and didn't mind us going in to the tea field to see how they picked tea. They told us they were picking Six Season Spring varietal, the 2nd harvest of the season.

Then we saw the farmer who collected the leaves. He didn't mind us watching him doing outdoor oxidation and let us smell the leaves. They smelled delicious!

I was really looking forward to drinking tea with Farmer Zhang. He has a passion for making traditional style Tieguanyin and I simply love his smile.

He started us off with a Tieguanyin that he just finished roasting a couple of hours prior to us showing up. It's very interesting to start with a tea like that. He told us that some drinkers like tea that's "fresh out of the oven." I told him that I felt the tea is not "round" yet. He said a tea like that takes a couple of weeks for the firing to become smooth. He said he wanted us to taste the tea base. He guaranteed that the tea would turn into a round tea if we stored it for a while. It's always very interesting to discuss tea with Farmer Zhang. I will be sharing what he thinks about his teas over the next couple of posts.

I ended up choosing a Tieguanyin made in 2008. It has a strong tea body with a very clear energy. I also picked up a Tieguanyin that was made in 1999. It's smooth and the tea energy is gentler. I am very happy with both of the teas. I am looking forward to sharing them after I return to Seattle!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Refrigerated Buddha Hand

PingLin is one of oldest tea growing regions in Taiwan. It's most famous for its Baozhong, but it also has a lot of other varietals of tea plants. One of my favorite ones is tea made from the Buddha Hand varietal. When I go to visit Farmer Chen, I always ask if he has any Buddha Hand tea.

Prior to our visit, Farmer Chen had a customer who tried his Buddha Hand and liked it so much that he bought all of the Buddha Hand in the shop! Farmer Chen knew that we were curious about that tea, so he brought out a Buddha Hand that was only half-way done. The leaves were stored in the refrigerator and were awaiting the rolling process.

I have never tasted a Buddha Hand like this before. It was much lighter than the finished one I'm used to. We appreciated Farmer Chen's generosity in sharing this special treat with us.

*photos are provided by Matthew Kraus

Friday, May 10, 2013

A Brief Tea Report On 2013 Spring Baozhong

We were in PingLin on Saturday, May 4th. The tea was already harvested, but the second picking was not quite ready yet.

Then we moved on to taste some aged Oolongs. We were very excited to taste some that are 15 to 20 years old. I chose one that I think has a very smooth tea base with a clear energy route. I am excited to share this when I return.

It was so nice to drink tea with Mr. and Mrs. Chen. They are always so kind and generous! I'm excited that their tea will be in Seattle soon!

Sunday, May 05, 2013

Taiwan Tea Tour 2013 - Day 1

We have already been in Taiwan for 3 days. There is so much to write about and so little time!

We took the EVA air flight directly to Taipei. As soon as we landed, some group members were excited about the the food on the airplane and asked me about it. I knew I would have an adventurous group at that time.

After 12.5 hours of flight, we decided to walk around the city a little and used the local public transportation to get a good feel for Taipei. We have been lucky that the weather has been mild. It has been around 70F and a little overcast.

I usually like to take people to Wistaria Tea House on Day 1. It's such a peaceful and beautiful space, and they have VERY GOOD TEA there!

We chose a freshly harvested Spring Baozhong (produced on Alishan instead of PingLin) as our first tea. What a great choice! We were so happy with that fresh and light floral bouquet, so pure and clean. That was just what we needed after a long flight.

After lunch, we decided to go for an Oriental Beauty as a dessert tea. This Oriental Beauty has more of cinnamon sweetness and we were all intrigued by it.

Jet-lag plus relaxation made us a bit sleepy. I told the group that a wild tree Sheng Puer might help. I explained to the group that a good Sheng Puer from wild trees would carry a lot of energy. Uunlike most green puers, however, the energy would be strong but smooth. They were all very excited to try the tea. The first infusion surprised them by how smooth the liquid was (a lot of tea drinkers have experience with Sheng Puer being rough and bitter). They were simply thrilled by its quality and the chance to taste it! After a couple of cups, some of us started to feel the "heat" from this tea. We were pretty awake by then.

And did I mention how great this group is? I am honored to be their tour leader and can't wait to show them more of the Taiwan that I love!