Roasting tea

I recently experimented with roasting tea, turning a green oolong into a roasted one. It was a great way to learn how roasting can affect the taste of tea, as well as breathing new life into a particular stash of tea I had grown tired of drinking.

I actually had no idea it was possible for regular folks to roast their own tea until I saw this video from Mei Leaf, where Don talked about his own roasting experiments:

Of course, Don is far crazier about tea than I am so it still never really occurred to me to try myself, especially with the lack of detail around temperatures and times. However, later I saw people on Instagram trying it out and giving details about exactly how they were doing it. The main one that inspired me was a post by teadrunkblog:

Finally it clicked, and I knew exactly what tea I would try it with: a relatively low-grade green tieguanyin that I really wasn’t a fan of and found myself never drinking.

Process

The process was laughably simple:

  1. pre-heat oven to 100ºC (212ºF),
  2. place baking paper on a baking tray and sprinkle the tea over it,
  3. put the tray with the tea in the oven for one hour,
  4. after one hour, take out the tray,
  5. pre-heat oven to 200ºC (392ºF),
  6. put the tray back in the over for 10 minutes, and
  7. remove tray and enjoy the fragrant smells of roasted tea.

I immediately brewed some up and found it to have completely changed in smell and taste. What was once vegetal and creamy was now biscuits and caramel. I was not a fan of the original tea and was quite happy to discover that this roasted version was much more drinkable!

If I find myself with more tea that I don’t like much, I will seriously consider roasting it. I have seen posts from other people actually re-roasting tea that was already roasted where age had reduced the initial effect. I haven’t tried re-roasting myself yet, and presumably the process would need to be a bit different compared with roasting a tea that was quite green.

I’m also curious to try different roasting parameters to what I first tried, but I need a fair bit more ‘bad’ tea before I can do that (I certainly try to avoid obtaining bad tea in the first place!)

I’d love to hear about other people’s roasting experiments! Please feel free to comment about your own process and results 🙂

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