In the Workshop with Mr. Li

Making the Li Family's Wuyi Oolong

February 9, 2018

"When you make tea, the craftsman has to sense
that the tea is great." - Mr. Li
 
Click to watch

In his own words, Mr. Li walks us through his family’s workshop. The Li Family uses a variety of traditional and modern method to create their Wuyi oolong teas. From withering to firing, the processes take at least 24 hours, with roasted teas taking months of additional work.

As Mr. Li explains in the video, making Wuyi oolong demands a high level of technical craft, experience, and hard work. Though modern machines can assist greatly with some parts of the process, the final process of firing or roasting (tan bei) needs to be done by hand for the best results.

“If you want good tea, you still need to hand-fire it. It is more consistant. Once you set the speed in an oven – let’s say two hours: [what if] it comes out and wasn’t enough? Now there is nothing you can do. It is set by the machine. Whatever comes out is what you get. If you are a little off, you can’t send it through a second time. With hand-firing, I can taste it and keep going another hour. That might be the adjustment to make it perfect.”

“The hand-firing uses natural rising heat. It comes up directly and causes caramelization and molecular change… At Wuyi University, they did a collaborative exchange experiment on this. When we use wood fire, it can chemically change the tea. It can oxidize the particles in the tea leaf. So hand-firing and machine baking (or electric firing) yield different flavors. That is the thing about hand-firing. It is an oxidative process. It can chemically change the tea’s composition through oxidation of sugars.”

The Li Family will be featuring a wide selection of their hand-fired Wuyi oolongs in the upcoming February 2018 Tea of the Month Club box. Each tea in the box has gone through this additional final firing process over several months to produce medium roast and full roast Wuyi oolong teas.

All five teas were recommended by the Li Family as excellent examples of their roasting process.

 

 

   

   

 

In his own words, Mr. Li walks us through his family’s workshop. The Li Family uses a variety of traditional and modern method to create their Wuyi oolong teas. From withering to firing, the processes take at least 24 hours, with roasted teas taking months of additional work.

As Mr. Li explains in the video, making Wuyi oolong demands a high level of technical craft, experience, and hard work. Though modern machines can assist greatly with some parts of the process, the final process of firing or roasting (tan bei) needs to be done by hand for the best results.

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