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

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

New Winter Teas

Happy Holidays!

I have received a lot of sweet notes and cards from some of you. This is one thing that I love about my business. You are not just my customers, you treat me like I am your friend or family member. It's a wonderful feeling - Thank You!

Some winter teas just arrived. For lighter Oolongs, my Baozhong and High Mountain Oolongs have been here for a couple of weeks and they are opening up nicely. I love how the weather makes these teas different from season to season. Take our Farmer's Choice Baozhong for example, I feel that last season's has a bigger flavor, and this season's offers a very nice viscosity in the broth. High Mountain Oolongs offer some beautiful floral and citrus flavors and aftertastes. After the holiday season, I will be updating their tasting notes on my website.

For warm and darker Oolongs, I have a full body and solid DaHongPao. I also added a 90's AnXi Tieguanyin under the Older Oolong category. This is a traditional style Tieguanyin. It's full-bodied and smooth with a strong salivation effect. It's very satisfying, you've got to give it a try!

In about a week, there will be a very nice Gui Fei Mei Ren and a dark roasted Buddha's Hand. Make sure you check out the site and add them to your tea list.

In the next couple of days, 4 Sheng (Green/Raw) Puer will be added to our Puer list. Two are from 2013 and the other two are from the 90's. I am excited to be able to add them to our tea lineup. I can't wait for you to tell me what you think of these teas!

So many wonderful new teas to drink! Wherever you are in this holiday season, I hope you have a cup of delicious tea to accompany you. I will be having teas and thinking of you with a smile on my face.

Happy Holidays!

Sunday, December 06, 2015

Podcast: A Talk On Baozhong With Talking Tea

Here is my second podcast  with Ken Cohen of Talking Tea. We had a great time talking about Baozhong Oolong. I hope you will enjoy listening to it: http://talkingtea.libsyn.com/baozhong-a-historic-tea-from-taiwan!

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Videos of Pressing Puer Cakes

Here are some of the Puer videos that I promised to post. These were taken in a small factory in Mo Jiang that we had visited this past April. You can see that it's clean and all the workers wear uniforms, hats and masks. Before we entered the factory, we were asked to put on a similar uniform and shoe covers.

After a worker weighs the Mao Cha, it goes into a holder that is placed on top of steam to soften the leaves. I love this process, it's like magic!

Then another worker takes the steamed leaves and skillfully wraps the leaves in a piece of cloth before pressing. It's very difficult to do it right and he does it with such beauty.

This is a video of the machine pressing a Puer cake.

There will be more videos in the next couple of posts. I can't wait to go back!

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Charcoal Roast Dong Ding

I have been out of the Charcoal Roasted Dong Ding for a while. I talked to master Zhen who roasts Dong Ding for us and was happy to hear that he had some for me. He told me that it's a lighter roast than what I usually order, but he is very happy with this version. I asked him if it's possible to get some with a heavier roast and he was very agreeable with my request when he said "Sure, I will get the charcoal fire going and make one special roast for you." Man, I can't tell you how excited and grateful I am!

I ended up ordering both of versions of the Dong Ding. I was curious to see the differences between these two teas and I want you to have a chance to see how a great tea maker can bring out the best in a tea.

I received these two Charcoal Roasted Dong Ding teas in early September and you may have noticed that they haven't been listed for sale on the website. There is a reason for this. For teas like these, it will take some time for them to open up so that they're ready to be enjoyed. I want them to open up and reach a certain amount of balance before I feel comfortable offering them for purchase.

I have been tasting them from time to time over the past month. First, I liked the lighter roast better, only to change my mind a week later, and then finding it to be too rough on my third tasting. Yesterday when I tasted both teas, they finally opened up enough and I really like both of them!

The broth of the darker roast (left) and the lighter roast Dong Ding (right)

The lighter roasted one has more of that Dong Ding fruit smell and taste. Its liquid disperses very nicely inside of the mouth and it's more balanced on the palate. The heavier roasted Dong Ding has a dually heavy yet soft feeling broth happening for it at the same time. The way it slides down to the throat area is better and the salivation is stronger.

The open leaf of the darker roast (left) and lighter roast Dong Ding (right)

I like how the lighter roasted one holds all the features together so nicely and I like how the darker one has more dimension and dynamic. And you know what I like about a good charcoal roasted Dong Ding? It never ceases to change and transform and the tea will stay good for a very long time!

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Pod Cast: A Talk On Taiwanese Oolong With Ken Cohen of Talking Tea

I love drinking tea with people. When customers from other states take their time to visit Floating Leaves Tea, I feel special and grateful to make that face to face connection with tea lovers from around the country.

A couple of months ago, a tea lover from Philadelphia named Ken came to Floating Leaves Tea. I had so much fun drinking tea with him and his partner. Near the end of our chat, he told me that he hosts a podcast to promote tea knowledge. He asked me if I would like to be a guest on his program. Of course, I love to talk about tea!

That was my first time doing a podcast. Those of you who have had tea with me have probably noticed that when I start to talk about tea, I can't stop. It's no surprise then that this podcast turned out to be pretty long.

Like many people, I can't stomach listening to my own voice in a recording. For the first five minutes of the program, I was literally holding on to the table while saying, "Oh my goodness!" By the end though, I felt very good listening to the program. I know that my enthusiasm and love for tea was clear, even through my strong accent! If you get a chance to listen to it, I hope you feel the same way. And please give us feedback and let us know what you would like to hear and learn about in future videos or podcasts.. Enjoy the talk!


Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Japanese Tea Ceremony Class With Marjorie Yap of Issoan Tea School

After my Oolong tea tasting with my tea friends in Portland, I had the rare opportunity to attend a Japanese tea ceremony class taught by Marjorie Yap Sensei of Issoan Tea and assisted by Barbara Sensei.

Believe it or not, that was my first experience attending a formal Japanese tea ceremony/class.
I joke with my customers quite often that I can't do Japanese tea ceremonies because I would be kicked out of Japanese tea ceremony schools for not sitting still and for talking too much. But in reality, I had thought that Japanese tea ceremonies focus too much on the rituals and too little on enjoying the tea.

I am grateful that I was permitted to be a guest in Margie Sensei's Japanese tea ceremony class. In a way, I felt it was better than sitting in a formal ceremony for my first experience. I got to watch how students practice performing the ceremony, which I especially liked because some of the rituals were explained, and I got to see the beautiful relationship between teacher and students.

I didn't have any expectations before I entered the class and I left with a lot of satisfaction. I was happy that I enjoyed the process so much. It felt like we shared a space where beauty could be achieved through diligent practice. I now see how the Japanese tea ceremony is a life-long practice. It makes me think of meditation, which is also a life-long practice.

I walked away with the discovery that my perspective of Japanese tea ceremony has changed and I was filled with gratitude from the generosity of the teachers and students. So will I be learning Japanese tea ceremony? I think a more appropriate question is if I want this to become one of my life-long pursuits!

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Sudden Loss Of Tea Bouquet And Tea Flavor

Two weeks ago, I was in Portland tasting some Taiwanese Oolongs with my tea friends. Before I arrived, our host Jan called to inform me that the air was quite smokey due to many wildfires in Oregon state. I didn't think too much about that since I lived in Taipei for many years in the past, and the air pollution was quite bad back then.

I arrived a day before the tea tasting event and I was fine with all the smoke in the air. The first half of the tea tasting went very well. We enjoyed two Baozhongs, Oriental Beauty, Alishan Black tea and a Chuan Tong Oolong (a heavy roasted Oolong). We took a small break and had some snacks. I didn't serve any of the High Mountain Oolongs until the second half, because there were five of them and I wanted participants to be able to compare the teas.

I opened the vacuum bag of Alishan Oolong. It surprised me that there was almost no smell from the bag. I thought the bouquet would definitely show up after the bag of Alishan had a chance to breathe. I proceeded to brew the tea and there was close to no bouquet from the tea broth, either. I was very disappointed. I very much wanted to share with them how beautiful this season's Alishan could be! Next, I brewed the ShanLinXi, which did not reveal most of its flavor either (ShanLinXi has the heaviest body and its flavor is very easy to detect this season). I thought something was wrong.

Jan graciously offered to change the pot for heating hot water, and wanted to know if it could make a difference. Not much more bouquet nor flavor showed up after changing to a different pot. Some people said it might be the water. I didn't think the water would be the cause as we had 5 different teas earlier and they tasted fine and delicious. I thought it might be caused by a sudden change in air pressure, but I had no proof.

I would say the High Mountain Oolongs only showed an average of 30% of their bouquet and flavor. However, their textures showed up without any problem. They were all very soft and round.

One hour afterwards, while I was bagging tea for my tea friends, I smelled the bag of Alishan and some bouquet showed up.

I didn't drink any High Mountain Oolong for two days. After I came back to Seattle, I was eager to try the Alishan. It smelled beautifully and tasted as what I have remembered. Thank goodness! Maybe my senses were muted by the smoke in the air?

I wonder if you have had similar experiences? If so, please share your thoughts with me, I would love to hear more about your experiences.

*photo provided by Marilyn Miller

Monday, August 10, 2015

Floating Leaves Tea Is Turning 10 Years Old!

I know it sounds like a cliche but I simply can't believe Floating Leaves Tea is turning 10 years old! I guess when I am having fun, time really does fly.

It has been an amazing 10 years. Thank you all for supporting me on this incredible journey. While I am writing this post, the memories of setting up the tea house, of customers enjoying the space, of the uncertainty we faced when we moved to a new location...all lead to this moment now where I feel blessed to have so much help and encouragement!

I love this tea business! I love to travel to the tea regions and to learn from the farmers who are down to earth and passionate about their teas. I was super excited that I got to expand my tea travels from Taiwan to Yunnan China this past April. Thank you, Jan, Masa, Brian and Awoono, for making this trip possible. You guys are incredible!

What I love about this tea business the most is connecting with you over cups of tea. I have had great tea sessions here, chatting about tea, life and philosophy. When I see the sparkle in your eyes, when I see that you find a tea here that makes you happy, I know I've done a good job.

And thank you, internet customers, for supporting Floating Leaves Tea all of these years! Every time I receive an order, I feel like I make a tea connection. Seeing so many repeat orders from you makes my day. It makes me feel like you identify with what I am doing and I will continue to do better for you.

Thinking about all of this brings a big smile on my face, and I almost forgot to mention Floating Leaves Tea's 10-year-old Anniversary Sale: 25% Off on all our tea selection starting on August 12th. The sale will last for 1 week.

When I drink a cup of tea, I will be thinking all of you with warm gratitude in my heart. Thank you for these great 10 years. I look forward to the next amazing 10 years of my tea journey with you!

Thursday, July 09, 2015

Some Beautiful Tea Photos To Share

I have been going through some photos on my laptop and  came across some really nice photos taken by a 2013 Taiwan trip member. I thought you might enjoy viewing them, too.


tea field at DingHu, Alishan

tea pickers handing in their tea

leaves after the "Big Stir"


picking tea at Muzha

collecting tea after outdoor oxidation

beautiful Tieguanyin 


I love being in PingLin

walking back to Farmer's Chen's  

three leaves and a bud


SheShui is known for Black tea 

tea field at SheShui

after a wonderful hike

Taipei - Wistaria Tea House

I love drinking tea at this teahouse!

awesome Puer

enjoying tea

I miss being in Taiwan. Thank you, Matthew, for giving me these photos. They brought back good memories!

Friday, June 12, 2015

2015 Spring High Mountain Oolong - Fantastic Tea!

When our buyer, Rob Bageant, was out buying the Spring High Mountain Oolongs, I stayed connected with him via messaging. It was a bit of torture for me not to taste the tea, but at the same time, it was pretty fun to feel I could taste the teas based on his descriptions. We have bought tea together many times throughout the years; I have confidence and feel very connected to buy tea this way even though I was not there physically.

dry leaves of ShanLinXi

It excited me when our buyer's opening statement was, " Very good tea this season. So balanced." Then, he said, " it makes tea buying easy this year because it's so good!" When he was tasting DaYuLing, "this tea has no flaw", he said. I was screaming in my apartment, " I want to taste it"!

I had some of the High Mountain Oolongs shipped to Seattle via express mail. The box magically showed up in two days. Of course, I couldn't wait and tasted them all in a row. 

At that moment, I understood what Rob meant by the tea was very good this season. I tasted the Alishan, it was so beautiful that I felt that I was in a garden. Then I proceeded to ShanLinXi, it was a good ShanLinXi as I remembered: citrus, fruity, and wonderful stimulation in the mouth. Then I moved on to HeHuanShan, I remembered I kept saying, " I like this tea, I like this tea......There is so much goodness going on". When I tasted the Lishan, this came to my mind, " Yes! Thank you! A well balanced, solid, good Lishan. Thank you!"
I heat up the water to prepare to brew DayuLing. To be honest, I didn't know what to expect. I have not carried this tea for many seasons. The first sip reached to my mouth. I had my eyes closed," Oh my! I have not tasted anything this buttery for a long time!" 

brewed leaves of DaYuLing

I remembered I read it somewhere saying that tea is the nectar of God. Yes, it is and it's magic. Tea leaves in a cup, and those farmers are able to transform a plant into a liquid that is so beautiful, complex and full of goodness. 

After so much high mountain tea, I felt pretty lively. I felt like I turned into a butterfly, happily flying around flowers in a beautiful garden. I felt very grateful of the farmers, the weather, and Rob. I felt fortune to be able to taste them. I had the wonderful flavor of tea lingering in my mouth, thinking, "Life is very good, isn't it?" 

Friday, May 01, 2015

MoJiang, A Small Yet Adorable Place

We were in MoJiang, Yunnan for two days. I love this place! It's small and friendly. The biggest tribe here is the NaXi. People in this city haven't seen many outsiders. We were met with curious eyes, and the friendly locals coming and going all said "hello" to us.

There are plenty of cars in this city and at the same time, it's not unusual to see two oxen cross the busy street in the morning or people who still use a pole to carry goods to the market in the traditional way. It feels like the past and present meeting up at the same time and place.

I love walking through their morning market and their beautiful park. It gives me a sense of their lives and I enjoy the feeling of being there. I hope the photos can give you a glimpse of the beautiful people in this adorable place.

Spending time with Mr. Wang, who owns a tea factory, and his crew makes this place more special. Mr. Wang is funny and generous. I am very grateful to him for spending so much time showing us around, taking us to tea fields, showing us his tea factory, asking his crew to help us to make tea, brewing tons of tea for us, and talking to us about Puer tea. Everyone we met in this city were so very friendly and open!

And did I mention the food here is fantastic? They sure love their wild vegetables and super free-range chicken!

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Pressing Puer Cakes

Here are some of the basic steps involved in pressing Puer. I will share more information and some videos with you after I return to Seattle.

1.  Prepare the Puer Mao Cha.

2.  Weigh the leaves.

3.  Steam the Puer tea.

4.   Place the steamed leaves into a cloth wrapper and then tie the bag into a specific size and shape.

5.  Press the cloth bag with the steamed leaves about 3 times.

6.  Lay pressed cakes, wrapped in cloth, on tea racks.

7.  After the pressed cakes cool enough, the cloth wrapper is removed and the cakes are laid on racks for further drying.