Aged white tea…

Yes… aged white tea.

My girlfriend asked for white tea a few days ago, so I dug into my containers of tea looking for something. I found it… a canister of tea that has been sitting around since 2005. Conventional wisdom has it that white tea doesn’t hold up, is it true?

Granted, the container I used is a pretty good one. It’s got a pretty tight seal so air transfers was probably minimal. I used the gaiwan and filled it up with some leaves. Having water at off-boil and then cooled somewhat, I brewed the tea… which came our surprisingly good. I was expecting either something truly nasty (i.e. bitter and stale) or simply bland — having lost much of the flavours. Instead, I got a tea that still retained most of its aroma. It was never really good white tea to start with — only middle of the road stuff from the Best Tea House. It was meant for easy drinking. It is, still, easy drinking. It did lose some of the freshness, I think, but it has also made it easier on my body. I don’t think I take white tea so well these days for some reason, and perhaps having opened it since 2005…. it mellowed out a little?

Having it with an authentic Amish apple pie (purchased from an Amish lady who came by our town to sell) they went together quite well. White tea and Amish pie in the middle of Ohio… not your typical afternoon tea, I suppose.

It does seem to me that most tea genres will age. How they age, of course, is a big question. Some do it well, some do it poorly. I still have some 2005 Longjing that I can perhaps try to see if it’s still any good. The leaves are very yellow — having lost all the freshness by now, I think. Yet… perhaps removing the prejudice of “fresh must be better”, there are things to be discovered there as well.


Comments

Aged white tea… — 9 Comments

  1. Hmm.. Maybe it’s a good enough reason for me to open up my huge container of white tea back from 2004 aswell. It has been sitting on my shelf all this time and I couldn’t work up enough courage to actually give it a try. It willbe quite a surprise if anything half descent comes from the brew. My general experiance with aged light teas has been quite poor so far. Usualy half a year old greens, whites and some oolongs turn quite nasty. At least it looks good on a shelf.

  2. I think the relative air-tightness made this ok.  I mean, it wasn’t great, and has obviously lost some flavours and aroma, but it wasn’t horrible.  Entirely drinkable.  I think I’ll use it to drink grandpa style…

  3. My 2005 longjing tastes fairly flavour-free. I’ve not come across a lucha that ages with any noticeably good results to date – but I’m sure there’s one out there.

    Toodlepip,

    Hobbes

  4. I have some white tea from 2001 and trying it several months ago seemed to yield a fine tasting liquor.  They say that loose tea–white/green– doesn’t last but more than a year loosing it’s freshness and fine points.  From my perspective if properly stored in a sealed non-glass container, white/green tea can far out live it’s prescribed shelf life. 

    That  said, I once tried a green tea that was about three years old and it tasted stale, flat and not very good overall.  Now that may have been the tea anyways as I didn’t really remember it being very good in the first place, but it may have fell into decline having been stored for so long.

    ~Amadeus 

  5. Have just seen this blog post and found it very interesting. Was bought some white tip tea from the Cinnamon Wardrobe last year however have yet to open it and experience what have been some rave reviews from fellow tea drinkers. Slightly concerned about the age but reading the above I will definitely be making a brew. Could anyone recommend a way of making it for best flavour or is the directions on the website sufficient?

    • Sounds like a bad idea, actually. Boiling water is not a good thing for white tea. I’d suggest something slightly lower temp, although without seeing the leaves it’s hard to recommend anything more specific.

  6. I know this is a pretty old post, but white tea can definitely be aged with great results if stored properly. Shang Tea company sells a loose and brick format of aged white peony tea and both are exceptional. They both have a very smooth and complex nature… almost a wine-like quality to them. The loose one is a little more on the delicate side with cream and cucumber notes while the ones that were aged as bricks yield a more rich and complex infusion with sun-dried fruit notes and a hint of the musty/earthy aged taste you can detect in aged Puer. The ones currently on sale have been aged about 8 years now, and they fetch a higher price than the younger harvests. In fact, Shang Tea’s award-winning White Peony King tea is aged for 2 years before it is sold. He considers this a part of the process and has only recently begun to sell freshly harvested white tea, which they release each year in limited amounts under the name “Green Peony”. The tea takes on a really unique character after a couple years of aging that is more mellow and complex than its younger counterpart.

      • Interesting. This might explain why I don’t really see aged silver needle very often. Any reason why lower grade does better? Also, I have a 2012 silver needle I never made it into that I’m thinking about opening up.

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