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Thursday, October 12, 2017

Waking Up Aged Oolong

Aged oolongs can have a soothing energy. They are usually temperamental, and sometimes sour, but if you nurture them they can be full of life and delicious. And they will have a story to tell you. Part of the process of nurturing aged oolongs is waking up the tea.

When I talk about waking up a tea, I do this with heat. This is also called spot roasting, or touching up a tea. It is like roasting it just slightly, right before brewing. The simplest way is to get a candle, like a tea light, with a low flame. You can use a small sheet of paper, resting one pots worth of tea on the paper. Hold it above the flame so that a gentle heat starts to warm up the leaves (and not burn the paper at all!!). The goal is not to roast the tea, but merely to push out the slowly accumulated moisture. You can also make an apparatus to roast aged teas with an old teapot and a candle based teapot warmer as in this picture.

However you wake it up, the tea will taste cleaner, more direct and more full. The moisture that gets stuck in an aged tea can be like a glass wall between the tea and the drinker.

Our ‘66 Aged Beipu, for example, benefits from a quick spot roast. As it is, the tea is herbal, medicinal and smooth. When I feel like using some extra time and energy, I spot roast this tea as a step in my brewing process to produce an even more delicious pot of tea.

Written by: Noah


Sockbert said...

Noah, any suggestions on using a bamboo mini-roaster? I'm quite happy with the '66 Beipu as it is, and I actually like a bit of sourness, but I'd also like to try it touched up a bit. Thanks for any help!

Shiuwen said...

@Sockbert, Noah is working on a post to offer some guidelines to touch up the tea. Stay tuned!