by Debbie Odom
I have been growing and making my own tea for quite a few years now. I love the freshness of the tea and the feeling of knowing that my tea is safe for my family because I know what goes on them. They are as pure as I choose to make them.
I have made many types of tea - green, black, oolong and white tea and each type is a different process that affects the color, aroma and the taste of your tea.
Black Tea and Oolong Tea both go through different steps including fermentation or oxidation to bring their unique taste and color. Green Tea on the other hand, doesn't go through any oxidation and is as close to "off the bush" freshness as you can get.
There are many ways to process green tea. The one step that is necessary to prevent or stop oxidation is heat. Either by steaming or pan roasting, adding heat stops the "growing" and oxidation will not occur. I decided to try my hand a pan roasting green tea and the results were pretty extraordinary!
I'm not a professional baker but I can make a killer pound cake! It is the same with Tea. I'm not even close to being a tea master but I can make Tea that I like and I know you will too!
Steps To Prepare Pan Roasted Green Tea
- Fresh Picked Green Tea
- Wok Or Frying Pan
- Flour Cloth Dish Towel For Rolling
- Drying Rack - Screen
- Baking Pan
- Parchment Paper
- Container With Lid
Step One: Pick fresh tea leaves from the tips of Camellia sinensis. Only select soft tender leaves, not older, harder thicker leaves.
Step Two: Allow any surface moisture on the leaves to dry. I use a window screen and scatter the leaves so they get air flow. I let this sit in the shade outdoors for an hour or so until they are dried. They will probably begin to wilt a bit.
Pictured Above: Hanging herb rack or window screens for drying
Step Three: Pan Roasting
I have a wok that I use for many things, but my favorite is pan roasting green tea! You can also use a large frying pan on a stove top. Heat pan to 250°F. Make sure there is no oil or residue in the the pan. Place the leaves in the pan and either with your hand or some tongs, gently agitate the leaves in the pan several times a minute, turning them so they don't burn . You don't want to cook them, only to make them wilt and stop any oxidation. Do this for 15-20 minutes or until the leaves start to get rubbery and turn an olive green. You'll really start to notice how great this smells! You may want to do this in small batches.
Remove the leaves from your wok when they are dark green and rubbery. Allow them to cool slightly.
Step Four : Rolling
Rolling tea is actually breaking down the cell walls to extract juices inside of the leaf. I have found that rolling causes them to have a less bitter or grassy taste. Try it both ways and see what works best for you. Rolling can also be used to shape the leaf.
Place them on your rolling cloth and form the cloth with the leaves inside in a ball. Begin kneading and rolling the tea back and forth like you would do if you were needing a dough. I usually do this for about 10 minutes for green tea, but you can decide how long you wish to do it with practice.
Let the leaves sit until they loose a significant part of their moisture. I can feel this with my hand, they will be on the dryer side, not wet. This depends on the humidity in your home. Mine usually sit for 4-5 hours or sometimes even overnight. With practice you can tell just how long to let them dry before going on the final step.
Step Five - Final Drying
The last step in "setting" the tea is drying. Tea must release at least 70% of their moisture to keep them from molding or going rancid. I normally weigh the tea before I start roasting and periodically throughout the process to monitor the moisture loss. When my tea nears 60-70% loss of their original moisture, they go into a 150-200°F oven for 15-20 minutes. Be careful not to cook your tea, you just want to dry up any additional moisture.
Step 6 - Cooling & Storage
Take your leaves from the oven and let them cool. Place them in an air tight container. Leaves should stay fresh from 1-3 months.
I am very pleased with my Pan-fired green tea and is now the only way I will do it if I'm making green tea just for me. I hope you will experiment with the many ways you can make your own tea from your garden. You'll have so much fun discovering new ways to make tea!
Get Your Tea Plants To Start Your Own Garden! We grow and sell Camellia sinensis tea plants and we ship to all continental United States. You can also buy from our nursery at Blackcreek Nursery & Garden located in Ellabell, GA. Also pickup a copy of my book either at the nursery or Online!