Monday, March 27, 2017

Women in Tea: Shiuwen Tai

Shiuwen Tai of Floating Leaves Tea in Pinglin, Taiwan

It is from Shiuwen that I have learned the most about Oolong tea, particularly Taiwanese Oolongs. I am so grateful for her shop - Floating Leaves Tea - her teaching, her generous sharing of knowledge, her sense of humor and her friendship. I had the chance to travel with Shiuwen and a small group of tea lovers in 2015, to tea fields of Taiwan. There I met some of the most beautiful smiling faces I have ever seen.

And so with gratitude I share with you a little more of this tea woman's story. 

Q: Would you please share a childhood memory of tea?
A: When I was a child, I was close to a cousin who lived just across the street. Many times after school I would go in search of her. Whenever my cousin's father was home, he was always brewing tea, and he always asked if I wanted some. I would sit down and have tea with him for short moments. We never talked much. He would explain that we were drinking Oolong. I remembered that I enjoyed drinking tea out of a tiny tea cup. I would look at his Gong Fu tea setup and watched him brew for awhile. Then I would run away to find my cousin. He has already passed away. I wish I could have told him that I now have a tea business.

Q: When did you begin your tea business?
A: I started to do tea tastings at home in 2002. After our first tea tasting at home, friends were amazed with Gong Fu Cha tea service and asked how they could get tea like that. Shortly after, Floating Leaves Tea was born. We opened our teahouse in July 2005.

Q: What does your business offer?

Floating Leaves Tea is known for its Taiwanese Oolong. I travel to Taiwan once or twice a year to learn and source teaI also offer a curated list of quality teas in other varieties, such as Chinese green and Pu-Erh.  I am excited to offer many tea education classes in the shop, every month. Please see the listing of tea classes here.

I am dedicated to learning tea from farmers and producers and pass on what I learn to the tea drinkers coming across my path.

Q: What brings you joy about this tea work?

A: I love learning tea from tea farmers, processors and tea professionals in Taiwan (and I reached out to Yunnan two years ago!). I consider it a privilege to be a bridge to share what I learn directly from the source to the tea drinkers in the States. Each time when I see that someone is excited with the tea I share, I know I have opened a door for him or her to the fun, exciting and fascinating tea world. From the sparkles in their eyes and the smile on their faces, I feel I have done right to connect them to the tea people to whom I am admire and am grateful.


Teafan said...

I trust Shiuwen completely for my Taiwanese tea purchases. So glad to know her.

Marilyn Miller said...

Shiuwen is the best! I loved traveling with her to Taiwan and buy my oolongs from Floating Leaves. Looking forward to seeing what she does with her planned movie.

Tracy Bosnian said...

I'm with Marilyn, Shiuwen is the best. I love listening to her tell us about tea, and laughing all the while!

Jones said...