Roasted tea is a welcomed addition to any tea drinker’s cabinets as it brings about an edge. These teas are usually robust and sometimes nutty in flavor that makes it a favorite among all tea lovers.
We’ve recently decided to roast an older Biluo Chun Green Team from over 5 years ago. This tea had been sitting on our shelf for quite some time so we thought it was a good idea to reinvigorate its flavors and aromas with a simple roast. At times, roasting an older tea is a good way to refresh the leaves if flavors start to fade away.
Compared to newer teas, leaves that are a few years older may experience loss of flavor and aroma over a longer period of time. It is a popular experiment to roast these specific teas in order to refresh its previous properties.
One thing to note is that some teas cannot be roasted again to bring out flavors or aromas. There are times when teas have just become too flat to be saved and roasting them won’t bring the tea back to a drinkable state. If a tea can be roasted again, there are a few ways to liven up your tea through simple techniques.
There are many ways to roast an older tea depending on how it has been aged. Most likely, you will have to go through a trial by error passage before finding out the best procedure, time, and temperature for a specific tea. All teas vary and include specific characteristics that affect how they age in different environments. Some teas may require longer roasts while others take a shorter process.
For good quality teas that has good flavor and aromas, we usually recommend a simple short roast. Roasting times can be anywhere from 15-25 minutes with varying temperatures of 200-250F.
Other teas may require longer roasts. In this case, we recommend slowly roasting over increased temperatures. Start out at 200F and slowly increase by 10-15 degrees every 15-20 minutes. One important detail to remember is to test as you roast. Similar to cooking, one must taste their product during the process. The same applies to tea as you will find out if you like your teas less roasted or more at certain temperatures and times. Once you get the hang of it, you can even identify your optimal roast by color and aroma!
Biluo Chun Experiment
Our little project involved testing between an aged and recent version of Biluo Chun Green Tea from Sanxia Taiwan. We decided to roast the aged version we bought from 5 years ago, and test it against a non-aged version during a cupping session.
We did a short roast of the aged tea to quickly liven it in the oven. During the experiment, we preheated our oven to 250F and roasted the tea leaves for 20 minutes. Once completed, the leaves were set to rest for about half an hour before we conducted our cupping process to get an analysis of its flavors and aromas of our newly roasted tea.
The results were very unique and we were pleased with our outcome!
2011 vs. 2016 Biluo Chun
During this comparison, we used a tea cupping process to test both teas, determining the flavors and aromas in each. The teas are usually bitter as we test for the impurities as well.
Each tea is steeped in a 4.5 ounce porcelain vessel for 6 minutes at 175F. The tea is poured into a bowl for further observation as we examine its color, aroma, and taste. This applies to dried and steeped tea leaves as too.
2011 Biluo Chun Green Tea (Spring)
We roasted this aged tea for 20 minutes at 250F. Upon completion, the tea smells incredibly sweet. It had a fruity sweetness to it while giving off an excellent floral aroma as well. First thing that came to our mind were dehydrated plums or raisins when we took a whiff.
Taking a look at the leaves, they were definitely a lot darker as it gave off a grayed army green color. The leaves still had its distinct white tips at the end, but was not as prominent compared to its younger rival.
After steeping, the tea color was a beautiful golden orange hue. It smelled extremely sweet, earthy, and malty. The sweetness reminded me of a combination between red bean paste and animal crackers. The tea also smelled of roasted pumpkin seeds as well.
Tasting the tea was very pleasant as it was not as bitter as anticipated. Similar to its smell, the tea tastes like roasted seeds with sweet nodes of fruit and graham crackers. This tells us that when brewed normally, it should be excellent with a great overall balance.
Upon examining the wet leaves, it was a darker color that reminded me of a sage green. Its aroma reminded me of dried fruit, malt, and toasted seeds.
2016 Biluo Chun Green Tea (Spring)
In this test, we decided to compare our roasted aged tea with a fresh vibrant version from a newer batch. It was from the same farmer and much younger as it was still sealed in its packaging from the previous year.
These leaves were very lively compared to the aged tea. It was lovely forest green with many white tips at the end of each leaf. The leaves smelled grassy, earthy, and sweet with a sharp vibrant edge that perked our noses.
After steeping, the tea had a bright yellow green color to it. The tea smelled of vegetables as spinach and green beans dominated its aroma.
The taste was similar to the its aroma. We witnessed flavors of fresh cut grass, green beans, earthy tones, and a sweetness that reminded us of rice.
On the other hand, the wet leaves had a great umami aroma oozing out of it. It smelled similar to a konbu-based soup that had been simmering for hours!
It was definitely a neat experiment to spend part of our afternoon roasting an older tea. We definitely liked the contrast with a newer harvested version to really show the difference.
We recommend roasting teas that have been sitting around on your shelf for a while. Teas absorb everything in its surroundings, and through roasting, it may lead to some interesting results that you’ve probably never experienced!
Our only tip is to be patient and test as you go. Try roasting at different times and temperatures to see what works best with your taste buds. Figure out if your tea does better with a short or longer increased roast. We hope you enjoyed this article and will have as much fun as we had in roasting teas at home!