Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Another Try at Teacrafting with Boston Teawrights

Last month I did some Teacrafting with Boston Teawrights and had a blast making real tea in my very own kitchen. It was so much fun that I gave it another go. Although I enjoyed the whole journey from raw leaf to finished tea, it's still a learning process for both +Boston Teawrights and myself. I tweaked a few things and I believe that I came up with a better cup this time around. The packet of fresh leaves that I received was packaged on September 27th. I love the storage life statement: Longer than a load of bread, shorter than a twinkie.

The first step, just as it was last time, was to wilt the leaves. I spread them out on cooling racks on my cookie sheet, inhaling their fresh aroma. Boston Teawrights revised their instructions a bit so this time they were only wilted for about two hours. Storage wilt gave them a bit of a head start but they soon developed the right look. The two pictures below shows a leaf, before and after this step.

Once the leaves were done withering, it was time to begin the rolling process. I had a little bit of trouble last time with this part of the procedure. Rather than struggle with the cheesecloth I decided to just bare hand it. It was much easier doing it this way and I was amazed at how much "juice" came out of the leaves. The smell was amazing and it only slightly stained my hands.

Once the leaves were finished being rolled, it was time to let them oxidize. Unfortunately it was a fairly cool, dry day so I had a hard time keeping the environment around them warm and humid. Since I had opted to skip the cheesecloth, I used a rather threadbare washcloth to cover the leaves instead. I wound up leaving them overnight since the leaves didn't look right just yet.

My next step was to bake the leaves in the oven at 225 degrees. The leaves were quite well done after 10 minutes so I decided to stop the baking process there. I'd really like to experiment more with this step since my oven isn't exactly like what they might use for actual tea production.

The resulting brew definitely had a deeper in both flavor and color than my last attempt. It struck me the same way some Japanese black teas have, very light and delicate. It still had an oolong-ish quality, but that is to be expected with leaves from Taiwan. The first time around I used a gaiwan but +Caleb Hodes must have read my mind because that night he posted steeping recommendations. The result was actually better when I infused the leaves in a steeper mug for six minutes.

Overall this was another really fun experience and I think that teacrafting could easily become addicting. Trying my hand at making green tea is still on my wish list but that will have to wait until I have the right equipment on hand.

You can find out more about Boston Teawrights here.