After the tea festival in Seattle, a week or so ago now, I was sitting in the shop recuperating over an aged Dong Ding with a tea friend. He has spent time learning with a Dong Ding farmer/roaster in Taiwan. He knows Dong Ding tea very well. Something that he said struck me this time (although Shiuwen has told me before): that Floating Leaves' DD roaster has a peculiar style. She starts with a high temperature initial roasting that locks in the tea and then decreases the temperature. This is very ballsy!! Most roasters do the opposite, and for good reason. High temperature locks the impurities of the tea into the final product, while starting low and moving towards high gives the roaster a chance to push the raw tea's impurities out. This hot-initial style technique thus requires a high quality base tea with relatively few impurities. Roasting is such a difficult skill, and when the power of this woman's technique really hit home the other day -- the effects of this technique linked up with my own experience tasting her tea -- my brain nearly imploded with respect. Her skill is phenomenal, and her confidence must be just rock-solid.
Shiuwen is working on a documentary right now about one of this woman's pupils who has taken this skill to the next level. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PmOX2uAzhIc
I've learned sooooo sooo much working for FLT, and every time I learn something really interesting it just makes me realize how much more vast the world of tea is. Thanks for the wonderful chat, buddy! You know who you are.