I have long tracked various tea bloggers' home-roasting experiments with keen interest. I'm a sucker for skillfully roasted oolongs and sometimes wish that I had one of those cute little electric roasters to try my hand at transforming a surfeit of fresh Baozhong into a pile of something more dark and soothing.
One of the teas Brett kindly sent as part of our trade is a Baozhong he roasted after his sister found it in the back of her cupboard. The tea had been left open and neglected since a trip to Taiwan in 2008. In accordance with the pleasing element of surprise that has characterized the teas Brett sent, I didn't know what it was until I clipped open the sample.
This is what it says on the sealed bag he sent me:
When I saw that the sack contained roasted Baozhong, I remembered reading about Brett's roasting experiment. The tea had lost potency sitting on the shelf for four years so he threw it in the roasting basket for a few hours and tried it again. While the aroma of the roasting tea was pleasant, Brett did not enjoy the tea when he brewed it. He roasted again the next morning and liked the results a bit more, but still was not pleased by a metallic aftertaste he attributed to the bag the tea had been stored in. He planned to roast once more and store the tea in a jar to let it rest awhile. I assume the tea I have in hand represents that final roasting and jar storage.
I've had two sessions with the tea today and I think it's pretty good. In fact, it is astounding that this tea sat open on a shelf for 4 years. It has been revived. I used a lot of leaf and very short infusions for both sessions. The first session was early in the morning before breakfast and the scent of the dry leaves in the pre-warmed pot was sweet and nutty. Inviting. The brews: fruity, sweet, a bitterness slightly on the harsh side and a long lasting coolness in the throat. After eating a lunch of tacos with carnitas, cilantro, lime, radish and slivers of new onion, the second session was very different. I don't think I've ever realized how much lunch can impact one's experience of a tea. There are so many factors that affect a tea tasting-- yet another argument for postponing set ideas about a tea until one has had it many times. The second session oozed a thick honey flavor. More honey than in any tea I've had. Still the bitterness and the nice cooling sweetness to wrap things up.
Thanks for sharing, Brett. I did not detect anything metallic and the bitterness was the only drawback. But that may derive from using too much leaf. I'll try a lighter brew with the remaining tea. I would drink this stuff regularly. I do love a roasted Baozhong.