FREE GLOBAL SHIPPING ON ORDERS OVER $75.

Eco-Cha Tea Club: Longan Charcoal Roasted Oolong Tea

January 05, 2017

The picture above was taken when we picked up this batch of tea from our friend's home in Nantou, Taiwan. He was blending together smaller batches of tea leaves that had been roasted in separate traditional basket roasters. This was the total amount of this batch that was made from 36 kg of Shanlinxi High Mountain Oolong that was harvested last spring. The leaves had to be specially sourced from a farmer who was willing to put the time and effort into oxidizing the leaves considerably more than a standard High Mountain Oolong. The oxidation level is essential for optimal results of extensive post-production roasting.

These leaves have undergone 8 separate roastings over a few months, for a total roasting time of about 50 hours. Our friend first prepared his tea leaves for charcoal roasting by roasting them 3 times in a conventional oven roaster at low temperature of 80 -100°C. This provides a "base" roasting level that the charcoal roasting can proceed from more efficiently. The leaves were then handed over to a specialized charcoal roaster who charges a standard fee, regardless of how many roastings are needed to achieve the desired results. In this case, it was 5 roasting sessions of incrementally increasing heat, starting from about 90° and finishing at 120°.

Above is a woven bamboo basket with a screen at the bottom on which the tea leaves are placed. Only a certain amount of tea leaves can be put in a given tray in order for the leaves to be roasted evenly.

There is also a specific thickness to the the layer of ash that is necessary to insulate the heat rising from the burning charcoal embers at the base of this insulated stainless steel roaster in order to produce a consistent low temperature for a slow-roasting effect. Notice how the ash is formed into a mound, so that the most intense heat that is generated at the center is properly insulated.

Above is a shot of Longan charcoal that was just ignited. After the charcoal has burned considerably to achieve an even, lasting heat source, a layer of ash is applied for insulation. 

Our friend, who is a professional roaster himself and consistently achieves high awards in local competitions for his skill, keeps this chunk of Longan charcoal on display in his tasting room, acting as an air purifier as well as a symbol of a tradition that he is dedicated to representing. So much traditional knowledge and skill has gone into the making of this month's batch of tea — not to mention time and energy, that we feel it stands alone in representing the deep tradition that is alive an thriving here in the heart of Oolong Country in Taiwan.





Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.


Also in News

Eco-Cha Tea Club: Eco-Farmed Dong Pian Jade Oolong Tea Tasting Notes
Eco-Cha Tea Club: Eco-Farmed Dong Pian Jade Oolong Tea Tasting Notes

May 13, 2018

Our friend who is an organic tea farmer kept this batch separate from his normal practice of combining winter and spring harvests for his high grade produce for retail sale. We discovered that he still had a small amount of this harvest left when we visited his farmhouse a few months ago and inquired if he had any unique batches of tea to share. In classic local manner, he modestly replied that he had a batch of Dong Pian Tsui Yu that was harvested last January. Dong Pian in Chinese basically means late winter harvest, and Tsui Yu is a hybrid strain that is translated as Jade Oolong. We tasted it and were captivated by its character, and were delighted to be told that there was enough tea be shared with the Eco-Cha Tea Club!

View full article →

Eco-Cha Tea Club: Eco-Farmed Dong Pian Jade Oolong Tea
Eco-Cha Tea Club: Eco-Farmed Dong Pian Jade Oolong Tea

May 06, 2018

Shown above is the more recently planted section of a plot of Tsui Yu, aka Tai Cha #13, aka Jade Oolong. The crop that we are sharing with the Eco-Cha Tea Club this month was harvested in January, which makes it a relatively rare batch of tea in that it was harvested well after the winter harvest. In Taiwan, harvests that occur after December 21st are referred to as "Dong Pian", which is a name that connotes a new leaf growth that is stunted by the winter season. This late winter crop offers a distinctive character based on the slow growth of the new leaves on the tea trees.

View full article →

Eco-Cha Tea Club: Gold Medal Award Dong Ding Jin Xuan Oolong Tea Tasting Notes
Eco-Cha Tea Club: Gold Medal Award Dong Ding Jin Xuan Oolong Tea Tasting Notes

April 03, 2018

With the first brew poured off, the leaves offer a distinctly roasted character with nutty, fruitwood fireside notes. After the second brew the aroma of the brewed leaves turns a bit fruity, with a warming spice sweetness reminiscent of pumpkin pie. The tea has a roasted flavor upfront, followed by a sweetness like grilled fresh corn. Then it moves into a more balanced, rich, complex character and smooth texture. The second visual assessment of competition teas is the purity of color and transparency of the brewed tea. It should be clear and luminescent.

View full article →