Thursday, September 29, 2016

PDX Tea: Opening, Documentary Fundraiser and Roasted Dong Ding

It is with much excitement that I share that PDX TEA has re-opened in a welcoming and tranquil new space in Portland! David Galli hosts tastings and educational events, as well as curating high-quality teas (for sale). Many of these teas have come from his travels. David is a good friend, and I know first-hand how lucky Portland is to have someone with his level of knowledge and tasting abilities to be part of our tea journeys. 

Last Sunday, several tea lovers gathered to taste charcoal roasted Dong Ding. We were able to enjoy three different roasting levels. We noticed how the tea shifted not only by roasting level, but also within the consecutive brews of the same tea. 
Roasting tea is a specialized skill. Often the tea roaster is a different person from the grower and also the tea maker. Roasting involves science (temperature, moisture levels), as well as sensory arts (the smell of the leaf, the feel of it in your fingers, the control of the heat).  After a tea is roasted, sometimes the roasters let the tea rest for awhile to mellow before selling it.   

There are different kinds of roasting. Below, David is showing an electric roaster. The Dong Ding tea we drank is a very special type, roasted over charcoals (they are banked with various levels of ash to manage the amount of heat). People who enjoy this type of tea  have concerns that the knowledge and skills of charcoal roasting are dwindling.  To that end, this tasting was a fundraiser for a project to make a Taiwan Tea Documentary, including charcoal roasting. Shiuwen Tai of Floating Leaves Tea is trying to raise funds for this project.  It's a very worth cause, and I have donated!  (Also note - Shiuwen is offering a 30% discount to my blog readers on the High Mountain Tea Sampler - see here.)

I look forward to many wonderful tea tastings at PDX Tea, and I wish all the best to the Taiwan Tea Documentary project!

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Sample High Mountain Taiwanese Oolongs, Floating Leaves Tea

Shiuwen Tai, Floating Leaves Tea

Keep reading to the bottom of this post for a 30% discount on the High Mountain Oolong Sampler box from Floating Leaves Tea!

I am blessed to be able to taste teas regularly with Shiuwen Tai, of Floating Leaves Tea. Shiuwen's shop specializes in well-curated teas from her homeland Taiwan, as well as China and Japan. I had the chance to travel to Taiwan with Shiuwen in 2013, visiting farmers and fields and drinking my weight each day (or so it felt) in tea.  It was heaven!

Below is evidence of a recent tasting, where we made our way through several categories of tea, including white, baozhong, high mountain oolongs and Ti Guan Yin. 

Shiuwen gave me a sampler box of High Mountain Oolong teas, to taste and write about. This is a new product available from the online shop.  Shiuwen has very generously given readers of my blog a 30% discount for the next 30 days on the High Mountain Sampler, shown below.  This is a very, very good deal!!  Use "stephcupoftea" in the referral code at checkout.

The sample box contains a half ounce each of Alishan, Shan Lin Xi, Li Shan, He Huan Shan and Da Yu Ling. The teas represent different mountains (and elevations) in the category of High Mountain Oolong.  

I recommend using two gaiwan and tasting these teas side-by-side, so that you can tease out the subtle differences.  (You can steep these teas several times each, so this is a great thing to do with friends.) While this category of tea, generally, is light and aromatic, when you drink these with attention and care, you will be given the gift of noticing the differences in flavor, aroma and mouth feel. 

So let's celebrate a good deal and good tea!  Thank you, Shiuwen.  Go here to enjoy the discount (good for next 30 days) and use "stephcupoftea" in the referral code.