One of the things that makes dating aged oolongs difficult is the lack of any sort of packaging. They usually just show up in a canister, and packed for you on the spot depending on how much you want. You’re lucky if the canister is labeled, but the label sometimes has nothing to do with what’s inside, so go figure…
This tea I found in a teashop near National Taiwan University after dinner with a friend. The shop was interesting looking. It was sort of like a regular mom and pop shop, but better stocked (so it seems) than most. I asked if they have aged oolongs, and the owner said he had a bunch. I ended home with just one, although there was another one that was made purely of buds that looked more aged and very interesting, but the price tag was pretty steep and I didn’t want to gamble on it.
So this is what this tea looks like
Doesn’t look much aged, does it? When he opened the big canister the tea smelled more aged. In smaller quantity, it’s not as obvious.
It brews a darkish yellow/orange tea
The taste… is decided that of a younger Taiwan oolong but with a touch of that “aged” character to it. That aged character is very fleeting and isn’t at all obvious at first, but having drunk a lot of that stuff recently where it’s much more prominent, it becomes a lot easier to identify. The taste is without a trace of the grassy notes that I dislike in a Taiwan oolong, and the tea itself is full bodied and VERY smooth, lacking that slightly rough edge that one often finds in the lighter Taiwanese oolong. If there was roasting done for this tea, it must be very minor, and given the small amount of this tea that the store keeps, I doubt it’s worth reroasting. The taste is primarily that of honey-like aromas, plus a bit of that typical Taiwanese floral note. It also has the additional benefit of not making me dizzy even though I drank it on a mostly empty stomach before dinner. Can’t say that for most Taiwanese oolongs.
I think this tea probably rarely sees the light of day, as few people will seek out a tea like this from a store like that one. The price is a bit high, mind you (something like $180 per 600g) but I do like this tea quite a bit. I bought a new, slightly roasted oolong that, from my memory anyway, tastes similar and is cheaper. Maybe I should drink that tomorrow and compare them against each other to see which one’s better and if the aging of this has done anything to it.
The wet leaves are healthy, thick, and the stems are kept
It is probably best drunk just as a typical Taiwanese oolongs with a honey note, rather than anything aged per se. Yet… pretty enjoyable all around.