I picked up a sample of Jing’s 1983 aged tieguanyin on my swing to Boston — one of the persons I met gave me a session’s worth of tea.
The leaves look like an old tieguanyin — not rolled tightly, dark, a bit brittle. Smells somewhat sour.
The colour of the tea, when brewed, is also consistent with an aged oolong
The taste…. this is always the test, isn’t it? The tea is not too bad, with a nice throatiness and good sweetness. One problem though — it’s sour. I don’t know whether or not this is a product of the storage that it went through in my friend’s house, or whether it came like this or not, but since they mentioned “slightly acid aftertaste” in the product description, I’m going to guess that it was at least partly present already when it came.
Sourness, unfortunately, is the bane of aged oolongs, and sometimes it can thoroughly ruin a tea. I think there’s always going to be a hint of sourness in an aged oolong, but it’s a matter of how heavy and how presistent it is. There’s a certain tradeoff in having a sour tea and a heavily roasted one. The heavier the roast, the less likely it is going to be sour (especially when re-roasted). However, when reroasting there is inevitably something that is changed in the tea. The very best aged oolongs I’ve had to date are obviously very lightly or not at all reroasted over time. They give me the most complexity and flavour, and to boot, are only very slightly tart. They are rare.
The sour stuff… you can reroast them and they get less sour, but they develop in a different way over time, and I’m personally not sure if I like that stuff more. Some will tell you that that’s the only way to age oolongs; I beg to differ.
Still, for $21/100g, the tea isn’t too expensive. I do think they might actually be able to re-roast it again and hope it will improve a little more. Then again, trying to keep a tea like this under control in a place like Guangzhou is going to be an uphill battle all the way.