The best $6 I’ve spent

Most of the time when buying unknown teas, the gamble doesn’t pay off – there’s more crap tea out there than good tea, so luck is rarely in your favour. Once in a while, especially if the setting is right, the gambles can turn out right.

In this particular case, I took a gamble with this one

A bag of tea, really, nothing too fancy. You can see the bag is quite old. Few shops package teas this way now. I found this in the back of a cupboard of puerh in a local shop. It’s their only one. I asked how much, and the owner clearly has no idea, and just said “uh, whatever, 50?” That’s about $6 USD

I bought it because it’s got a pretty good chance of being an aged oolong. I can smell that aged taste through the bag. I’ve actually held on to this for a couple years now, and decided to open it yesterday when I was rearranging my tea closet.

Aged oolong, all right. It’s somewhere between 20 and 30 years old. The fact that it’s a private company in Shantou that packaged it means that it couldn’t have been made earlier than maybe the mid 80s. The tea is not heavily rolled like new tieguanyin tend to be, and looks traditionally processed with high firing. It’s wrapped in two sheets of paper. Given that it’s been just sitting around in a cupboard, the tea is actually in pretty good shape.

It’s got a nice, aged taste to it. It’s not the most full bodied or fragrant aged oolong I’ve had – open air storage probably has something to do with it. It’s only minimally sour, and is in very good shape. The only knock is that the tea is somewhat chopped up – probably because of repeated handling over the years. For $6, it’s a steal.


The best $6 I’ve spent — 14 Comments

    • The cabinet is one of those with glass doors that frequently gets opened whenever someone buys something from it. The package, given it’s just two sheets of paper, isn’t anything near air tight either.

  1. Sweet find. I’ve always wanted to try some Tie Guan Yin from back before it got all green and curly. Is much of this stuff still around?

  2. Quite the catch; I wish I had those types of tea opportunities in the states. Is it known how much tea is in there?

    • Whenever I go to Wing Hop Fung (LA Chinatown), I always see some old-looking wrapped pu’er teas in the glass cabinets. But I never had the desire to gamble with those 🙂 the setting and vendor matters.

      • I’d imagine them to be drinkable at least. Tea is tea in my mind… except for the odd tea that doesn’t feel like tea at all. Those are very depressing, but thankfully they seem rare to me at this point. I say give one a shot if the price is right; Better than money sitting in the bank after a point. Maybe you can get really adventurous, get a few, and if they’re all mediocre try combining them.

        On an unrelated note, it turns out my state (Washington) actually has a tea plantation and it’s one of the few in the States. I’ll have to visit it sometime as it’s one of those rare opportunities I mentioned desiring.

  3. Would you say there is not much old stripe-shape and high-fired Tie Guan Yin floating about on the broader Chinese market, even?

  4. Very nice find. Congrats. The tea leaves look good. Did you refresh the tea prior to brewing? The process will enhance the tea significantly especially for old tea.

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