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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!
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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!
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.
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 pickers charge by how many leaves they pick:
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):
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!
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!
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
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!
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!
It's the time of the year again for the Spring tea harvest and tea tour! I am very fortunate to lead 6 people to Taiwan on our tour this year and I can't wait to introduce them to tea farmers, walk with them through the tea fields, learn more about tea together, drink amazing tea and eat a ton of yummy food! I will be posting updates and pictures on my blog or on our Facebook page: Floating Leaves Tea
After our tea tour, I will be sourcing the upcoming season's tea in Taiwan. I am very excited and can't wait to share the teas from this trip with you!
Floating Leaves Tea will be open on select days in May only - we will be closed for most of the month. Now is a great time to stock up on your favorite teas before I leave! All the tea at Floating Leaves Tea will be 25% off from April 19th to 26th.
May Business Schedule:
Open May 1st, 4th, 18th, 30th and 31st: 11am to 5pm
I look forward to sharing some delicious teas with you after I return!
I received these Yixing teapots a couple of months ago and have been having fun testing them out.
西施壺 XiShiHu 160ml
I tried out different kinds of Roasted Oolongs in this pot and other pots. I am really impressed how well a Roasted Oolong tastes in this pot.
高潘壺 GaoPanHu 100ml
This pot works well for aged Green Puers.
高虛扁壺 GaoXuBianHu 90ml
A great little pot for Green Oolongs.
南瓜壺 NanGuaHu 150ml
I like how a Cooked Puer tastes in this pot.
石瓢壺 ShiPiaoHu 110ml
Green Puers work well in this pot.
*Thank you, Douglas King, for providing these pictures.
Earlier in the season, I heard some bad news about this winter's tea: not enough rain and warmer weather..... well, the patience and hope have paid off. We waited and waited and our delicious winter Oolongs have arrived!
For this season's tea, we offer four High Mountain Oolongs: ShanLinXi is bright and enjoyable; Alishan is soft and floral; Lishan is buttery and yummy; and DaYuLing is delicate and complex. If I really have to choose a favorite, I would currently vote for Lishan. I like a tea with exceptional mouth feel.
Our three Baozhongs are all very good, too. Farmer's Choice Baozhong has a really clean and nice body; Competition Style Baozhong is floral and balanced; and 2nd Place Baozhong is floral and has the best aftertaste. At this moment, I can't decide which one is my favorite.
Some of you might prefer roasted Oolongs during winter time. At Floating Leaves Tea, we offer you Muzha Tieguanyin produced by Farmer Zhang( one of my favorite tea farmers). This Tieguanyin is rich and satisfying. Our Dong Ding Charcoal Roast just arrived. I love this Dong Ding. It's very full bodied with a wonderful warm, roasted and sweet aftertaste that lingers in the mouth.
I look forward to sharing some of these teas with you. And stay warm with a good pot of tea!
*photos are provided by Rob Bageant.
In one of our recent tea club meetings, we had a wonderful chance to try a 90's Puer tea(Essence of Tea) from two different storage: One in a clay jar at a participant's home in Seattle, and one in a pumidor at another participant's home in WA.
The person with the pumidor has a wonderful tea blog: Listening To Leaves and wrote an article on this specific tea tasting. I thought you might like to read it. Enjoy reading!
Admission: $10 at the door.
Phoenix Tea: Hunan and Anhui Hei Cha
Miro Tea: Green Tea
Floating Leaves Tea: Taiwanese Oolong
McIntosh Tea: Puer
Tea Geek: Black Tea
Guitian's Tea: Chinese Oolong
Noon to 3pm
Cannata Fine Tea Imports: Tea and Chocolate pairing
Embrace The Moon Taichi & Qigong
1716 NW Market Street, Seattle WA 98107
For more information, please check out our facebook page: Seattle Holiday Tea Fundraiser
Questions? Contact Shiuwen at Floating Leaves Tea: firstname.lastname@example.org or 206-276-9542
Looking forward to sharing some tea with you!
*picture is provided by Becky Lee.
Our 7-year anniversary sale was very successful. I want to thank you all for your support! I am very happy and thankful that this season's tea has been selling well. A lot of teas have sold out much faster than I expected: Aged Baozhong, Alishan, ShanLinxi, Dong Ding Select, Buddha's Hand, and 2011 Muzha Tieguanyin.
I have been seeing an increase in business at both the store and on our website. I have very much enjoyed sharing tea with people who came to the store, and have had wonderful tea chats and email correspondence with customers who can't visit us in person. At the same time, I have been encountering a challenge: it's become more difficult for me to get things done.
I am very excited to add some new services and benefits for our customers. I would like to announce some changes to our tea tastings, the launch of a tea lover's club and the introduction of more tea classes both for the shop and for the online customers. I am hoping that these changes will help me to organize my time, while still allowing me to share tea and tea knowledge with all of you.
-Tea Tastings: I will offer tea tastings from 12 to 3pm on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. This is a great opportunity to sample some teas that you are interested in. These tastings will be informal and fun. Seating will be first-come, first-served: $5.00 per person. The tasting fee will be applied towards purchases of $25 or more.
-Tea Classes: I will be updating tea class schedule once a month. In the next month or so, I am hoping to set up a web cam system so that I can offer classes to tea customers who can't visit the shop.
-Floating Leaves Tea Club: I am very excited about the tea club. I am planning to meet twice a month, possibly on a Friday afternoon and a Saturday morning. Among other benefits, Floating Leaves Tea Club members will have exclusively access to taste rare teas that I source on my tea trips and from my suppliers, as well as being able to taste our new season's teas first. I will also be providing different tea brewing experiences, competition style tea brewing, and hosting discussions and topics on intermediate and advanced tea topics. This club will focus on Taiwanese Oolongs, but over time, I plan to bring in high-quality puer and Chinese Oolongs for our club members. I will also being teaching directly from Chinese texts written by some of the great tea masters. In the future, tea members will be able to make requests for special tea purchases.
If you are interested in becoming a club member, I will be offering the first two meetings for free. To sign up, please talk to me or contact me at email@example.com. For our online customers, please give me some time to set up our web cam system before I will be able to offer similar membership to you.
I hope that by making these changes, I will be able to offer you a better-organized, in-depth tea education and experience. Meanwhile, your comments and feedback are welcomed.
With Autumn here, our Charcoal Roasted Dong Ding has arrived, just in time. It's full bodied and fruity, with a nice touch of warm charcoal-roasted notes
lingering in the mouth.
*Photo provided by Douglas King.