Baked oolongs are a fantastic way to experience the wonder and flavor of oolong tea. The baking process produces a rich, deep flavor. Not only does it enhance the floral and fruit notes of a fine oolong, but it also creates a nutty, toasty taste that is unmistakable.
The baking process takes place at varying temperatures and varying times to produce a tea that is particular to the tea master’s style. The process can take several hours up to several days. One interesting and little known fact is that during this process, large amounts of caffeine is baked right out of the leaves! Dr. Oolong has seen first hand the stalagmites hanging from the ceilings in baking rooms. Pure caffeine!
Some great baked oolongs you may be familiar with include Royal Courtesan (gui fei), Ti Quan Yin, and Tung Ting. All are known for their depth of flavor and ability to hold up well to multiple steepings. The time and attention that goes into making oolong teas is nothing short of impressive. Here at Zhi, we are truly grateful to the Taiwan tradition of care and creativity in giving the world some of the most remarkable teas on the planet!
The vast majority of the tea baking is only done in Taiwan under the supervision of, or by, the tea master himself. Only recently have a few handful of ambitious oolong fanatics have undertaken the challenge to bake oolongs in the United States. Solid training is necessary to do this, along with much trial and error. The advantage of this is the ability to create custom batches of tea. (Can you tell where this is going?
Yes, Dr. Oolong has thrown his tea leaves in the proverbial fire and has started baking oolongs in Austin. Stay tuned for small artisan custom batches of baked oolongs from Zhi Tea, coming soon.