Roasting is a process commonly used for Oolong tea to reduce the raw astringency of the larger leaves. It is remarkable how the judicious application of heat can transform a rough tea into an elegant brew and the skill of the roaster is highly valued in Oolong.
But what about other types of tea? There are roasted greens (Houjicha) and many black tea goes through some extended baking but PuErh tea is never roasted unless stuffed in bamboo or fruits.
The thing about raw PuErh is that when it is young it shares a lot of the raw astringency of a green Oolong. In many PuErh's this is desirable - a puckering edge to the sweet aftertaste. But for many of the more potent mountains in Yunnan, the young tea is too much, exhibiting eye-squinting bitterness which masks the bright, sweet and friendly flavours.
Lao Man E is one of these mountains - rich and powerful but overwhelmed by bitters. For these types of tea, tradition has taught us to age them in order to soften and balance the flavours. But what about roasting?
We assume that roasting Sheng (raw) PuErh is not considered because it would by default change the way that the tea would naturally age and may even take it out of the definition of PuErh. But these are semantics to us - all we care about is taste.
So, for the past few months we have been experimenting with house roasting a fabulous Gushu Lao Man E tea, selected because it has such rich aromatics and powerful effects but is hindered by its bitterness.
In this video we taste the results of our experiments and introduce you to the 'Psychic Stream Seeker'.