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Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Basic Taiwanese Oolong Making Process Part III

Part III and the last few steps of the oolong making process are:

-Kill Green: After the tea leaves have been oxidized enough, tea makers have to stop the tea from further oxidizing. They use high heat to stop the components in the leaves from oxidizing. The temperature to do this is around 170 degrees (celcius), but I have also heard that some people use more than 200 degrees. Heat will also get rid of more moisture in the leaves and help with forming the particular fragrance of an oolong. Through this process, tea makers want to get rid of the "greeness" in an oolong and bring out the real "tea fragrance."

-Shaping, Pressing and Rolling: After Killing Green, the tea leaves are put into the pressing machine to break the cells. This process also helps to shape the tea. If it's Baozhong tea, the leaves just need to be dried, then it will become Baozhong Mao Cha. For rolled style oolongs, the tea leaves will be put inside a piece of cloth that is tightened up into a ball and rolled between two plates. For a high mountain oolong, the leaves will be rolled around 8 times to get the shape that a tea maker is looking for.

-Drying: After tea makers get the shape they want for an oolong, they will put the tea leaves into the drying machine. After the drying process has been completed, tea leaves will have a water content around 4 to 5 percent. At this point, tea is called Mao Cha. Nowadays, consumers can go directly to farmers to purchase tea, so a lot of people are buying and drinking Mao Cha.

-Sorting, Roasting, and Matching tea: When Taiwan tea was produced mainly for export, tea farmers would make Mao Cha and tea vendors and merchants would purchase the Mao Cha and sort, roast and match different crops of tea into the final product that they were looking to create. Sorting is done to get rid of excess tea stems, broken leaves and old leaves. The tea is exposed to the air as it is sorted, so some moisture will get back into tea. Tea vendors will roast the tea a bit to get rid of that moisture. A lot of times, tea buyers will ask for certain teas to be roasted, so it will be the vendor's job to roast the tea as requested. For a big wholesaler, they will match different crops of tea to get the signature taste for the company's brand.

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