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I embarked on my tea journey when I studied abroad in China in 2008 and traveled around Taiwan that summer. I'm here to share my experiences and offer my own opinion, advice, and comments on tea.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Tea Ruts, a Redux

It's that time of the month again...when I start running low on supplies, but I'm over my tea budget so I need to wait until next month until I can order teas again. But unlike my tea ruts of July, I'm actually quite happy to be drinking the same kind of teas over and over again. In this case, I'm mostly drinking Taiwanese oolong these days, and my light roast/medium roast pots have been getting quite a bit of action.

Now, coming from a Taiwanese background, Taiwanese teas (as one might surprise), are the rage in our household. I still have about 400-600 grams of high mountain stuff still open, about 200 grams of lower elevation cheap jinxuan, and 600 grams of recently discovered aged tea (more on that later). So I pretty much never have to order Taiwanese oolong, because it's so readily available.

My latest obsession has also been DIY roasting, mostly in a crockpot. Since I have so much tea, especially jinxuan stuff, I've been using it to experiment roasting. See here for some helpful tips:

Tea Obsession

My Tea Stories (a whole series, fascinating btw)

You would think that I, like any proud Taiwanese, would use the traditional DaTong rice cooker...but for some reason my model hasn't have a keep warm function, so I've decided to go western on this one. I don't like to drink too many green oolongs, so my hope was to give some of my teas a light/medium roast, to mix it up a little. I got a little carried away and charred the Dong Ding...I don't know if it's drinkable.

I was a little more careful and less ambitious the next time, and I had some pretty decent results. It doesn't taste like a true roasted oolong, since that kind of a roasted flavor profile only comes from hardwood/charcoal roasting.

Now, the aged oolong I mentioned earlier. Asians like to give tea as gifts, and the rest of my family, non-tea drinkers, kindly accept said gifts and chuck them in the corner somewhere. Just last weekend, I found some Taiwanese jinxuan (I believe), still in its vacuum sealed bags, original canister, boxes, etc. ... from 1996. That's right, from over 10 years ago. I don't know how much a tea can age in a vacuum, but from what little I know of science, these vacuum bags aren't probably perfect vacuum spaces, and the tea inside probably mingled together and aged a bit.

It has an interesting taste, it's still floral, but not in a dominating way...it's kind of subtle. There's also a better mouthfeel and a kind of honeyed flavor to it. Since I have 600 grams of it, I took 200 grams away for further aging (just another one of my on-going experiments). People have called me crazy, but hey, if it's airtight enough...it will age. Tea Habitat carries aged green tea from 1994, so I'm definitely not crazy. I gave a portion of the aged tea a little roast, and it's a little more interesting, but I'll see in a week when the roast starts to become more stabilized.

Good thing this month is almost over, I'm looking forward to my next big order, which should probably sustain me until the year's end.

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