Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Sage Tea made like Black Tea

This post and the preceding post have inspired a new post on Teacology: Oxidizing Herbs Like Black Tea or Oolong Tea.

My last post was about oxidizing herbs usually used in herb teas, in a manner similar to that used to produce black or oolong tea or red rooibos.

I made another successful batch the other night, this time out of sage (Salvia officinalis). I've had sage tea before but it is very strong and intense in aroma, and yet thin in body. I wanted to see if I could take the edge off the tea and develop it into something richer, more complex, and more mellow.

The production process:

1. Let the leaves partially wither (about 24 hours in a dark, dry area)
2. Roll the leaves to heavily and thoroughly bruise them.
3. Place them on a ceramic plate under a moist cloth
4. Let them sit for about 6 hours.

The leaves turned completely black by this point. Then the final step:

5. Heating for 5 minutes at 225 degrees in the toaster oven.

The result? An herbal tea that brews a light brown color, and has an aroma much like gingerbread cookies. There's a fair amount of toastiness (perhaps I'll go lighter on the final heating next time) and a pleasant suggestion of sage in the aftertaste, but the strong sage aroma does not dominate as it does with the fresh or plain dried leaf. The aroma is much more complex and multifaceted than that of straight sage tea. I think this is my most successful attempt at oxidizing herbs yet! I am going to work on refining this process and see where it takes me.

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