Along with the two green baozhongs I got was this roasted baozhong. I generally like roasted teas. They’re easier on the body (stomach and otherwise) and usually also require less attention to make, which enables them to be teas that can be drunk without too much attention being paid to how you make it.
Roasted baozhong, as the owner of the shop reminded me, are often teas from last year that weren’t sold. Since unroasted teas are no longer fresh and have lost some of their fragrance, roasting will enable it both to keep as well as to change its composition so as to make it marketable again. It makes sense. Why roast good, fresh crop when you have older stuff? Of course, there are teas that are made to be roasted by design, but in this day and age when lighter teas often command higher prices, it would be silly for a farmer to forego the higher income for a roasted tea.
I made this once before since purchasing the tea, but last time I didn’t use much leaves as I only wanted something weak and mellow. Today I decided to push it a little harder and use a Wuyi yancha proportion
Which basically means stuffing the gaiwan.
The resulting tea is quite dark
And initially there’s a strong charcoal roasted flavour. It’s not, however, so strong that you feel like you’re eating charcoal (I’ve had those kinds of tea before). It’s a very fine line between over roasting and just right — when it tips into the “I’m tasting charcoal” territory, the tea… really isn’t so good anymore.
This tea manages to stay within bounds. Not much of the original flavour of the baozhong remains, of course. Instead, you get a deeper, heavier scent, something like a dark fruity flavour. This tea is not aged, at least not that I can tell, so it can probably benefit from some aging — both to lose a bit of the charcoal flavour and to gain a little more sweetness. It’s not that it’s not sweet, but I find that roasted teas, aged a few years, can have a unique mellowness and roundness that newly roasted teas can’t.
This predicates itself on having been stored correctly. Unlike puerh, generally it’s not a good idea to have them exposed to much air. They can turn sour if it’s moist outside. At the Best Tea House, for example, boxes of Wuyi yancha and other roasted teas sometimes go sour because they’ve been opened for a as samples but not finished in time. Some people actually like it a touch sour, but I personally think sour tea is just nasty. This tea doesn’t have any sourness, no matter how long I brewed it for. Neither is it rough or too bitter. Pretty decent, actually, and not a bad find for a tea that didn’t cost too much.
The wet leaves are a bit stiff — a lot of roasting happened. Not the heaviest I’ve seen though. It’s very strange, but extremely heavily roasted teas, when done properly, are incredibly sweet.
I might buy a few bags of this before I leave and let it sit at home. I think it will be worth it to have some of my own supply of aged baozhongs.