As far as oolongs go, the tea I had today is what you’d call a cooked oolong.
Sometimes reasonably roasted oolongs are called cooked (shu) oolong, but there are different degrees of this stuff, and today’s is pretty extreme. Look at the liquor
I picked this tea up at the Fuxing store. They had a small amount of it left, and I thought it was fun, if nothing else. They claim it’s an aged oolong, 10 years or so. I somehow don’t buy it. Look at the wet leaves
They’re almost pitch black. The leaves are like little springs — you stretch them and let go, and they bounce right back to their original shape. They won’t unfurl no matter what you do, and will break if you try too hard.
Don’t get me wrong though, as far as super heavily fired oolongs go, this one doesn’t taste too bad. It has its share of charcoal notes, but it also does have a little bit of an aged taste, and plenty of woody notes in the tea. It is probably better if brewed a little lighter because of its very heavy firing, but I want to compare it on a more equal footing to the other stuff I’ve been drinking recently. Whereas some of those aged oolongs you’ve seen can actually look quite normal, this is anything but. Yet, there will be people who tell you this is aged stuff… and I suspect that with enough work put into it and giving it some more time to lose the “fire” flavour, it can indeed be a reasonable aged oolong. It just isn’t one yet.
There are charms of such teas, but they tend to be a bit boring and sometimes just a little too much charcoal. I think I will revisit this tea after leaving it around for a few months and see what happens.