Just around the corner from my accountant (yes, it’s tax season) sits Floating Leaves Tea, a small space owned by a woman with a huge, wants-you-to-know-about-tea heart. Shiuwen Tai, a native of Taiwan, is introducing more Taiwanese Oolong tea into American culture. Besides the oolong, she sells green, black, white, and puerh tea, plus Yixing pots and gaiwans. The store is packed with tea and accessories.
Not only does Shiuwen sell Taiwanese and Chinese tea, she also guides a Taiwan Tea Tour. This is very cool, and the only shop that I have visited that hosts tea tours. Taking a small group to visit farms and farmers in Taiwan almost every year, the trip is nearly always sold out. This year’s tour travels 11 days in Taiwan, visiting farms to see how farmers grow, process, and appreciate tea. It’s a cultural experience for those of us who live in countries where tea is not grown so much. Visiting any foreign country is always enlightening, and makes the world a smaller and more intertwined place. Cross cultural understanding is the road to World Peace. And travel is a lot of fun.
Twice a month, Shiuwen hosts a tea club. It is according to your tea knowledge and interest. One tea club is more for novices to tea and it’s culture; the other club is for a more developed palate. There is something for everyone, whether you know a lot or a little about tea. Shiuwen is so engaging that I cannot imagine anyone feeling uncomfortable or overwhelmed with her information and teaching style.
Tea classes are on the horizon with the emphasis on tasting several teas with which you may not be familiar. That is the point of classes, is it not? To get out of your rut. Why stay with the same-o, same-o tea. In the company of your peers, you are more likely to try something different, with lots of comments from other tea sharers, and guidance from Shiuwen.
I came home with some Baozhong Farmer’s Choice. A beautiful yellow green color when poured, it’s taste is light and ethereal. It’s an easy tea to drink all day. Now if I can just get the hang of that dang gaiwan that I bought….
Floating Leaves Tea, www.floatingleaves.com
1704 NW Market St, Seattle, WA 98107, 206-276-9542