Tea Roasting 101

What do Dong Ding Oolong and Houjicha have in common?

If you’ve guessed “roasted”, you’re right! But what does roasting have to do with tea anyway? In this post, we’ll be exploring the reasons why you might want to roast tea and how you can do it.

First, what does roasting do to tea?

Roasting tea can be divided into two main categories: during processing and after processing. During processing, roasting can help reduce the water content in the tea, prolonging storage life. It can also remove the raw taste of tea by changing the amino acids and sugars in the tea leaves through heat. Finally, roasting can stop oxidation in tea – that’s why all teas, even green teas, are either steamed or roasted as a final step in the process!

Do note that not all roasts are equal: the length and intensity of the roasting process will affect the flavours brought out in the tea – a lightly roasted tea will not have any toasted notes but a deeply roasted tea will have strong roasted and caramel notes. Additionally, a heavy roast can help reduce the amount of caffeine in a tea; perfect if you’re looking for a new nightcap!

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After the tea has been processed, you might want to roast it for several reasons. First, if you’ve had your tea for some time, a roast can help to refresh the tea (especially if it’s an oolong). This is a great way to breathe new life into old teas. Secondly, you may want to roast your tea to enhance its flavours and to pre-emptively help with its storage life. Finally, you may want to roast tea to introduce new flavours – such as toasted notes – to the tea.

Now that we’ve talked about the reason why you might want to roast teas, let’s talk about how to do that. The three basic steps are as follows:

First: heat your roaster. You don’t have to use a dedicated roaster for this – you can use an oven and roast the tea in a pan.

Second: add your teas. Stir the teas while roasting.

Finally, remove your teas from heat.

The basics are that simple! The difficulty comes from finding the right temperature and time for roasting. Each tea and roaster has its own characteristics, and it may take some trial and error to find the perfect balance. In general, green teas need a much shorter roasting time compared to oolongs.

Here are some teas that we recommend for roasting!

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Guei Tzu’s Four Season Tea, $14 for 200g loose leaf

Guei Tzu’s Four Season tea has a fresh and soft smell with a traditional oolong taste that will surprise your taste buds. You will definitely love it’s smooth and sweet aftertaste. 

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Organic Yakushima Genmaicha, $25 for 100g loose leaf

This genmaicha from Hachimanjyu is created using our finest first flush green tea and JAS organic-certified rice from Kumamoto. Enjoy the fragrance of green tea mingled with roasted rice.

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Organic Yakushima Hojicha, $25 for 100g loose leaf

A home-made hojicha made in limited quantities. Hachimanjyu only uses the best quality first-flush tea for their Organic Yakushima Hojicha.

Find out more about Hachimanjyu here.

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Organic Bali Green Tea, $22 for 30g loose leaf

Praised as ‘green gold’ for centuries, this Balinese marvel is naturally cultivated in heavenly elevation of 3,500 feet.  This tea is medium toasted, resulting in a gently steamed, softly sweet green tea.


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Tea roasting station at teapasar tea bar @ Naiise Iconic, Jewel Changi Airport

If you’re unsure or don’t have the time (or tea) to find the perfect roasting method for your tea, we’ve got you covered. At the new teapasar teabar at Naiise Iconic, located at Jewel Changi Airport, we’ve set up a roasting station! You can roast a selection of direct-from-farm teas on the spot, choosing between two levels of roast: our lower level is for flavour enhancement and to help the tea’s storage life, while our higher level adds some toasted notes into the tea.

Plus, watching teas roast in our roaster is incredibly relaxing.

So come down, have a cup of tea with us, and get your own packet of roasted tea!

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