Yesterday before we parted ways, Sherab gave me some tea from a canister he brought over
The canister of tea is clearly marked — it’s some competition tea from Taiwan from 1991. That’s a good 17 years ago, and he obtained it from a friend of his who’s been holding on to it for a while now. And now, I got a bit of it. Obviously impatient, I brewed it today.
The tea gives me a good indicator of what to expect from, say, an aged oolong that’s about 15 years old, stored, probably for much of its life, in an air tight, possibly sealed environment. The tea is, compared to most of the stuff I’ve purchased in Taiwan, quite green, but by no means young — you can easily feel the aging in this tea, as there’s no bitterness to be had, and also plenty of sweetness. There’s also a light, very faint sour note, but given the amount of leaves I used (generous, for the pot anyway) and the sometimes rather long infusions I subjected it to, it’s really nothing. I have a baozhong that is at a similar stage of development — possibly a little younger, but not much.
This does tell me though that something around 15 years old and stored in, say, canisters for most (if not all) of its life is going to taste something like what I just did today, which is quite fine, as it is. If the final goal of all this aging is to obtain a tea that is long lasting, easy to brew, sweet, and most importantly, without the need of reroasting, then this gives me a good confidence boost that it is, indeed, possible to obtain such teas via one’s own aging. The biggest temptation, of course, is to drink them too early… and that, I think, is a shame, for nicely aged oolongs can be truly wonderful.
Thanks Sherab for the sample 🙂