Inaugural Organic Harvest: Oolong Tea Roasting Process - The Final Chapter!
We are very happy to announce that the roasting process is complete! After six separate sessions for a combined total of almost 40 hours of roasting, the leaves are ready to be vacuum sealed to lock in the flavor of both lighter and heavier roasted batches.
The harvest was split into two separate batches after the initial processing of the leaves. From there, each batch was roasted separately, with slight variations of temperatures at different intervals of roasting. After both batches were roasted twice, it was time to choose which batch would be roasted further, and which would be kept as a light roast.
We decided to let our tea advisor and master roaster - Lisa Lin decide, and take on the task of continuing the roasting of the heavily roasted batch. After undergoing eight hours of roasting in their third session, Lisa notified us that they were done. We then stopped by her home two days later to learn that she brewed the leaves the next day and decided they weren't quite done, and roasted them again for 6 hours.
In each roasting session, the leaves are brewed at different intervals to monitor their condition. As the leaves are brought to their full potential of flavor and consistency by careful observance, they become very volatile, and the final decision making process is crucial to not overdo it.
When we sat down with Tony and Lisa Lin to brew the leaves some 24 hours after their final roasting, we all agreed that Lisa did a great job. We are very excited about the results. The heavy roast batch of tea was roasted for 26 hours overall, and yet it still remains a mild, full-bodied, complex brew that represents a classic Dong Ding Oolong. The later stages of roasting also brought out notes of honey flavor that indicate the leaves were affected by the green leaf hopper insect that is responsible for the making of Concubine Oolong. This subtle complexity of flavor and well-balanced composition is hard to come by, and is undoubtedly rooted in the fact that this tea is organically cultivated.
In our experience, organic tea has a distinct consistency of flavor. There is simply more constitution in the tea leaves. We brewed that pot of tea ten times, and it still had substance and character. So, at long last, we are ready to package the tea and send it off to all of our supporters of this project. Thank you once again for your encouragement to support sustainably produced artisan tea!
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We can see in the photo of the dried leaves above that they were hand-plucked while still very young and tender. This is evident not only by the size of the leaves, but also in the protective fur that is still on the whitish colored leaf buds. It is this stage of leaf growth, along with the heirloom cultivar of tea tree that give Bi Luo Chun its distinctive character among Green Teas — especially when it is from the first flush of spring tea buds!