How I made roasted oolong that isn't burnt


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How I made roasted oolong that isn't burnt

Postby spinmail » Jun 27th, '10, 14:49

I made a trade for some Premium Da Hong Pao recently, but was concerned about a persistent complaint: this is a roasted oolong, and the toasted taste threatened to overwhelm the tea flavor. I'd stayed away from roasted oolong for this very reason, but with a ready supply of the tea to play around with, I varied the usual directions.

First, I reduced the infusion temperature to 165F, moistened the leaves for a half hour, then drained the water. The temperature was now around 160F, and I proceeded to infuse the tea - about 4g oolong, 1.3 cups water for maybe four minutes. Usually, I use a gaiwan, but this time, I used a mesh infuser, and reserved the leaves afterwards.

The color of the liquor was a light brown. The flavor was surprising. At this lower than usual temperature, I could actually taste the flavor of the oolong leaves, with a roasted undercurrent. In the past, when I drank roasted oolongs, the taste always seemed to have a "burnt" component - which still has its good points. But by rinsing first, and then brewing at a lower temperature, you can capture both aspects of the tea.

I'm sure others have tried this appealing way of drinking roasted oolong, but it's becoming one of my personal favorites.
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Re: How I made roasted oolong that isn't burnt

Postby debunix » Jun 27th, '10, 15:18

spinmail wrote:First, I reduced the infusion temperature to 165F, moistened the leaves for a half hour, then drained the water.


Very curious about the "moistening" : how much water to how much leaf, and does the tea leaf actually stand in the hot water--i.e., steep?

When I'm working with puerh that I rinse, I do a flash rinse: boiling water over the tea to cover, let sit less than 10 seconds, drain, then let the tea sit a bit to absorb the water clinging to the leaves, and there is nothing to drain off after this hydration step. I don't consider this extended time that it sits damp as an infusion, but if it sat in the full volume of rinse water for half an hour I'd consider that a steep.
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Re: How I made roasted oolong that isn't burnt

Postby AdamMY » Jun 27th, '10, 15:20

Even Heavily roasted teas, should never taste burnt. If the tea tastes burnt something went horribly wrong in the roasting process, or storage process. Though that being said perhaps you just really do not like the roasted taste, but I would hesitate to call it burnt.
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Re: How I made roasted oolong that isn't burnt

Postby spinmail » Jun 27th, '10, 15:45

My rinse, at least with this tea, is around 1/4 cup water and 4.5g tea, for around 30 seconds. Get rid of the water, infuse the moistened (or rinsed) leaves for 3 or 4 minutes.

Steeped at 180F - the typical temperature for an oolong - I ended up with a heavy roasted flavor, and no oolong flavor. The roasted flavor took over the tea. Steeped at a lower temperature, however, the roasted taste remains, but it retains a oolong flavor.

AdamMY suggests that roasted teas should never taste burnt - and I agree. The roasted taste and oolong should harmonize.

debunix wrote:
spinmail wrote:First, I reduced the infusion temperature to 165F, moistened the leaves for a half hour, then drained the water.


Very curious about the "moistening" : how much water to how much leaf, and does the tea leaf actually stand in the hot water--i.e., steep?

When I'm working with puerh that I rinse, I do a flash rinse: boiling water over the tea to cover, let sit less than 10 seconds, drain, then let the tea sit a bit to absorb the water clinging to the leaves, and there is nothing to drain off after this hydration step. I don't consider this extended time that it sits damp as an infusion, but if it sat in the full volume of rinse water for half an hour I'd consider that a steep.
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Re: How I made roasted oolong that isn't burnt

Postby debunix » Jun 27th, '10, 20:23

You mentioned a half hour in your first post--still confused about where that fit in. First rinse duration, or after rinse/before steep?
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Re: How I made roasted oolong that isn't burnt

Postby JustinW » Jun 27th, '10, 20:38

You probably just need to drink more roasted teas so that your palate can accommodate to the flavor. I don't really detect any flavor that I would label as "roast", not even in high fired teas, but when I first tried yancha a few years ago i remember thinking that it had a quite strong "roasted flavor".
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Re: How I made roasted oolong that isn't burnt

Postby spinmail » Jun 27th, '10, 23:29

I rinsed the tea in 165F water for thirty seconds, using 4.5g of tea. I emptied the water. Then I steeped the tea in 160F water in for around three or four minutes, and discarded the tea leaves. I used an infuser basket, and that didn't seem to affect the taste.

debunix wrote:You mentioned a half hour in your first post--still confused about where that fit in. First rinse duration, or after rinse/before steep?


Justin W: I have to be honest: until recently, I can't say my experiences with roasted teas were altogether positive. When I've tasted roasted oolong using competition leaves, it always seemed to have a roasted flavor. I assumed it was just a matter of getting accustomed to it.

So, when I tried rinsing, then using a lower temperature than usual - as outlined - there wasn't any roasted flavor anymore. Instead, I ended up with a rich flavor of oolong, with a pleasing background of roasted leaves. I don't know which is "correct," but my infusion tasted better to me.
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