Thursday, June 14, 2012

On roasted teas

Lousy weather and cold feet prompted me to prepare some Tie Guan Yin from Anxi in China - another alternative is Muzha in Taiwan which also has rather decent quality in my opinion. Roasted teas may be an acquired taste for some because of its inherent qualities: smoky, heavy taste. My preference is for light green teas and minimally roasted oolongs, but find I them ineffective in keeping me warm. My body is craving for something stronger.

When brewing this tea, I packed three times more than the usual amount of tea leaves I would use for green oolongs because they do not unfurl as much due to the heavy roasting process. The tea smelled very smoky and heavy in my pre-heated hongni pot. To reduce the intensity, my preference is to give the pot a good shake and then remove the lid to allow excessive roasted scents to escape before heating my pot again and infusing the tea with hot water.

To test this tea, I decided to prolong the brewing time. The infusion was a deep amber colour and smelled like dark chocolate with hints of roasted mixed nuts and tasted very complex. The aftertaste however left me with a sour note on the root of my tongue and probably has to do with the extended infusion period I used.

In the subsequent brews, I did away with long infusion times and the resulting taste was the same but missing the sour note. To fully convince myself that this was indeed the result of a shorter brewing time, I did not drain all the tea from the pot and instead chose to leave some behind to monitor what happens if I once again soak this tea. Puzzling enough, the last few concentrated drops from the bottom of this pot were not as deeply coloured as I would have expected. More crucially,  the aftertaste was very enriched and not at all acidic. I am now enjoying the soothing circulatory effects of this tea in my stomach and am certain that its quality is decent.

Still, the mystery behind this tea's performance is unresolved.

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