Ageing Black Tea


Fully oxidized tea leaves for a robust cup.

Postby trent » Apr 28th, '09, 00:00

TokyoB wrote:I was also wondering about aged black tea after seeing this 1998 black tea at Jing Tea Shop. The "woodsy" description made me think of pu-erh taste for this one, but who knows??
http://www.jingteashop.com/pd-liu-bao-tea.cfm


Just so you know, the tea that westerners call "black tea" is called "red tea" in chinese. What the Chinese call "black tea" is a variety of tea that is aged like lui an, or lui bao. (to see what I mean, check out the "red tea" section on Jing and you'll see that its western black tea)
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Postby xuancheng » Apr 28th, '09, 12:53

When I went to Yixing, they were all telling me that the fresher their local red (or black) tea was, the better. Maybe they haven't gotten storage down, or maybe they don't like the way the taste changes even with proper ageing.

I just read a web log post about a 4 year old Darjeeling
http://39steeps.blogspot.com/2009/04/20 ... eling.html
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Postby TokyoB » Apr 28th, '09, 12:54

trent wrote:Just so you know, the tea that westerners call "black tea" is called "red tea" in chinese. What the Chinese call "black tea" is a variety of tea that is aged like lui an, or lui bao. (to see what I mean, check out the "red tea" section on Jing and you'll see that its western black tea)


Trent,
Thanks. You are right - I do know the distinction between what in the west is called black tea and in China is called red (hong) tea versus what the Chinese call black (hei) tea. However I missed that here. I did think that this was an aged black (hong) tea but now that you pointed it out I realize that it is something more akin to a pu-erh. Oops! Thanks for pointing that out. I have had lui an tea before but wasn't at all familiar with this category - lui bao. Always more to learn. :)
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Re: Ageing Black Tea

Postby mbanu » Oct 17th, '10, 03:43

I have read that at one time certain Indian teas were given a very long firing at the end during the drying period, because it increased the tea's shelf life for the long boat ride to England. This high fired tea had an unpleasant "burnt" taste fresh, but that disappated during the voyage.

Maybe this is related?
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Re: Ageing Black Tea

Postby legend » Nov 3rd, '10, 02:46

A great deal of confusion arrises from the terminology that has been used in Western coutries to describe the tea groups. The original Chinese terminology comes from the ancient times and can be confusing even to most Chinese. So in terms of Chinese tea here is a summary.
There are three main problems:
1. Red Tea (红茶 hong cha) is used in the west to desribe what is actually (黑茶 hei cha) black tea.
2. (青茶 qing cha) is not recognized in the west, instead we recognize a sub-category of it which is (乌龙茶 wu long cha)
3. In Chinese there is no distinction of the word "oxidation" from that of “fermentation” the process is just called fermentation (发酵 Fa jiao). So a green tea has no fermentation,a Qing/ Wu long tea is partially fermented, a red tea is fully fermented, and a black tea is ready for or has already begun secondary fermentaion.

It is best to use the traditional Chinese system to describe the six groups of tea. In this case:

1. Hong cha- red tea is fully fermented (oxidised) tea utilizing the leaf buds and/or the youngest leaves of smaller leaf varieties. Many times the leaves are similar to those used to produce green tea, thusly many areas are famous for both green and red tea production (Fujian, Guangxi, Hangzhou) The common varieties include Qi men , Jin Jun Mei, Jin hao, Jin luo, etc. These teas are to be used in the year of production or as soon as possible. They are not commonly aged in any form.

2. Qing cha- including Wu long cha is partially fermented tea utilizing the second and third leaves down fron the bud. These are heat treated, either by quick cooking (xia qing), sun-drying (shai qing), or by heating or roasting (hong pei) - all in order to stop the fermentation process before about 50%. There is a great variety of teas in the qing cha/wu long cha category because of the minutea of the processes and timing of stopping fermentation. Some familiar varieties include: Tie guan yin, Taiwan gao shan cha, all of the Wu yi yan cha from Fujian: Do hong pao, Shui xian, etc. The Wu yi yan cha represent a catoegory of qing cha/ wu long cha that is roasted before it is finished. This is commonly confused for the Red tea and/or black tea I describe above because the leaves are blackened after roasting, they are still however qing cha/ wu long cha.
There are certain (very few) of these roasted teas that are specifically made to be aged. They have undergone a special processing and in some cases can are made into cakes. With this exception no other wu long teas are acceptable for ageing, they are also to be drunk with in two years of production.

3. (黑茶 Hei cha- black tea, including 普洱茶 Puer cha) Here is where a lot of confusion takes place. All black tea begins as partially fermented leaves like Qing cha/ wu long, the leaves which have had the fermentation process stopped are now ready to go onto to black tea production. There are three basic type of black tea production:

3-1. (普洱生茶 Puer SHENG cha- Raw Puer) Puer is the description of the large - broad leaf variety of the tea plant found in Yunnan. When those leaves (which could be younger leaves from the top of the plant or more mature meaves from the lower part of the plant) are lightly oxidised then dried in the sun, you end up with Sheng cha - Raw puer. This tea has similar characteristics to Green tea because the leaves have had only a minimum of fermentation take place. So when it is stored in proper humidity and temp. over time the natural process of secondary fermentation can take place and possibly improve the character and value of the tea. They are commonly stored for 5 to 20 years or more. In both cases of Sheng and Shu a poor tea makes a poor aged tea no matter what. A good or great tea will have the opportunity to improve but there is no guarantee.

3-2 (普洱熟茶 Puer SHU cha- cooked puer) Here the same leaves as above are given additional processing and the leaves are stacked in wet piles (窝堆 wodui- wet pilling) and flipped around in various levels of wetness and humidity. This process is a kind of curing that will begin the secondary fermentation process immediately. So when you purchase the tea it is similar (in theory, though rarely in practice) to a Raw Puer which has been aged for many years. These are also commonly stored for five to twenty years.

3-3 (黑茶 Hei Cha- Black Tea) These are two main varieties of black tea which are different from the large leaf type of Yunnan. Most importantly
(六堡茶 Liu Ba Cha) from Guangxi is a type of middle/ small leaf variety which is always naturally fermented, sometimes less resulting in a more raw type tea or sometimes more. You might say Liu Bao exists in between the two extremes of raw and cooked on the secondary fermentation spectrum. It is usually loose tea and packed in baskets to continue fermenting in the open air. It is stored from 5 to twenty years or more. A sub category of Liu Bao cha is called (农家茶 Nong Jia cha- farmhouse tea) which is an ancient method of tea production special to Guangxi, where I have studied the tea culture for some time. This tea is actually boiled to stop the fermentation process instead of cooking or firing, then the leaves are sun dried and packed. This produced a special kind of tea which is naturally fermented and can be aged for the long term. It is in very short supply and I am not sure if it can be had outside of China in any quantity.

(湖南黑茶 Hunan black tea) also a smaller leaf variety, which is given the process of wet-pilling to produce secondary fermentation, but it is a more natural process than that of Shu Puer. The teas are compressed into large logs which can be hundreds of pounds each.
Last edited by legend on Nov 4th, '10, 06:38, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Ageing Black Tea

Postby nada » Nov 3rd, '10, 05:25

legend wrote:。。。There are certain (very few) of these roasted teas that are specifically made to be aged. They have undergone a special processing and in some cases can also be made into cakes. With this exception no other wu long teas are acceptable for ageing, they are also to be drunk with in two years of production.


Good post & welcome to the forum. I'm not too sure I can agree with this point though. There are many oolongs which are suitable for ageing that haven't gone through 'special processing'. Periodic reroasts and/or storage in an airtight container can produce some great wuyi yancha, TGY and Taiwanese oolongs.
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Re: Ageing Black Tea

Postby Nenugal » Nov 3rd, '10, 05:49

legend wrote:A great deal of confusion arrises from the terminology that has been used in Western coutries to describe the tea groups. The original Chinese terminology comes from the ancient times and can be confusing even to most Chinese. So in terms of Chinese tea here is a summary.
There are three main problems:
1. Red Tea (红茶 hong cha) is used in the west to desribe what is actually (黑茶 hei cha) black tea.
2. (清茶 qing cha) is not recognized in the west, instead we recognize a sub-category of it which is (乌龙茶 wu long cha)
...

Welcome to TeaChat! That was really an interesting post to read. Now I'm curious to know some examples of teas that are quing cha but not wu long cha, and why they are not included in the wu long category...
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Re: Ageing Black Tea

Postby greenleafblue » Nov 3rd, '10, 08:19

Nenugal wrote:
legend wrote:2. (清茶 qing cha) is not recognized in the west, instead we recognize a sub-category of it which is (乌龙茶 wu long cha)
...

Welcome to TeaChat! That was really an interesting post to read. Now I'm curious to know some examples of teas that are quing cha but not wu long cha, and why they are not included in the wu long category...

Hi,

清茶 is known in the west, we call it green tea :D

What the previous poster probably meant by qingcha is 青茶; 青 is the color = green/blue/black(ish) :mrgreen:

good question, but pretty sure they just use 青茶/qingcha as an other name for wulong/oolong.
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Re: Ageing Black Tea

Postby greenleafblue » Nov 3rd, '10, 08:43

legend wrote:3. In Chinese there is no distinction of the word "oxidation" from that of “fermentation” the process is just called fermentation (发酵 Fa jiao). So a green tea has no fermentation,a Qing/ Wu long tea is partially fermented, a red tea is fully fermented, and a black tea is ready for or has already begun secondary fermentaion.

didn't want to nitpick at first...but hey, I'm a teanerd, sorry :mrgreen:
pretty sure 氧化 is oxidation/ to oxidize, and the word it's also used when talking about oxidation of tea leaves?
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Re: Ageing Black Tea

Postby alan logan » Nov 3rd, '10, 09:20

a chinese native speaker would certainly be a precious help :wink:
meanwhile i looked it up on babelcarp and it says:

发酵 (Fa1 Jiao4): literally Fermentation (发酵 or 發酵 or 髮酵), the oxidation under the influence of enzymes in raw tea not yet killed by Sha Qing
which would pretty much correspond to (edit: meant following>>) enzymatic oxydation typical of wulongs eg.
(not hou fa jiao =>shu cha, hei cha)

氧化 (Yang3 Hua4) = (氧化) Oxidize[d] or Oxidation
which would correspond to wulongs.

chinese terms correspond appearently to specific processes applied to tea, so our words in translation don't always match totally

I buy from 2 asian vendors, one chinese one taiwanese and they speak of "fermentation" although they are very aware of the word "oxydation" and the process it describes.

ginkoseto wrote about these terms on her blog if i remember right, (edit: no I was not remembering right, there are posts with discussions about terms but it was about pu er :oops: )

about the naming of wulongs:
wulong seems to be a taiwanese term that has extended.
what we call green tea (like zhu ye qing, long jing...) is lu cha
different terms meaning "green" or refering to different shades of green can apply to any tea that has not been processed and is still of green color, and in this case the term refers to the color more than/as much as to a kind of tea (can also apply to a green wulong, fully processed but of green color). Add to that there may be different habits of langage in different regions... that teas are so varied variety in terms is likely to happen too...and, mostly, add to that even with years of tea drinking I don't guarantee my information""...

you can have a look at babelcarp for the terms on green and wulong Legend mentioned, as he wrote the characters it is helpful (thanks Legend for the accuracy), but best source is a native speaker I guess.
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Chinese terminology

Postby legend » Nov 4th, '10, 06:37

I am not a native speaker but I have studied Chinese for five years and do conversate in Chinese here in the mainland and read some Chinese too. I know how native tea people describe these processes because I talk with them everyday about it. They are of course aware of Yang hua 氧化 but I have had many tea teachers, guides, etc. and they have never needed to use this term, because if you understand the process of producing the six types of tea you will see it is just one process of fermentation - Fa jiao 发酵 which takes place partially in Qing cha 清茶、乌龙 Wulong cha and fully in 红茶 hong cha/ red tea, and not at all in 绿茶 Lu Cha/ Green tea. The secondary fermentation which comes from wet-pilling(Wo dui 窝堆) is called 后发酵 Hou fa jiao (后 Hou- means after/ behind) This refers to certain black tea 黑茶 hei cha and of course most notably to Puer shu cha 普洱熟茶

You have to understand the relevant nature of Chinese, the characters hold so much meaning there is no need to use more or new words to describe what is actually the same process.
The term 青茶 Qing cha refers to any tea any of the partially oxidised teas including 乌龙茶wu long. It is not green tea which is 绿茶 Lu cha- green tea, the 青 Qing here is related to the blue green appearance of the partially fermented leaves leaves. Here in the mainland they hold Tie guan Yin 铁观音 to be Qing cha, not necessarily Wu long; just to answer that question. The reason Qing cha is the type of tea is that it is a description and thus fits in the classification system - Green, white , yellow, Qing (blue-green), red and black. Wulong is a name and like all the other tea name fit into each category. Well, of course there is always contrversy about Puer, whether it is a category unto itself, in it unique but the system still would dictate it is a category under black tea 黑茶 hei cha.
It is important to see how over the course of thousands of years the Chinese characters retain ther meaning even as more detail comes in distinctions over time. This is the power and beauty of Chinese, it was the first language system that could categorize and classify everything and also hold this meaning visually.
Last edited by legend on Nov 4th, '10, 07:07, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Ageing Black Tea

Postby legend » Nov 4th, '10, 06:55

Good post & welcome to the forum. I'm not too sure I can agree with this point though. There are many oolongs which are suitable for ageing that haven't gone through 'special processing'. Periodic reroasts and/or storage in an airtight container can produce some great wuyi yancha, TGY and Taiwanese oolongs.


This is absolutely true I totally agree with this as well.
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Re: Ageing Black Tea

Postby alan logan » Nov 4th, '10, 15:43

I was wondering what was the difference between 清 and 青.

as far as i know,
both mean "sheng" applying to pu er.
but if you see "清 with 茶", it means sheng cha, 清茶 seems not to apply to wulong/qing cha(青茶).
生 (raw) sheng I have seen much much more as for sheng cha, so I wonder how often and in what phrases 清 is used regarding pu er.

here is what I found about the meanings. roughly:
青 = 1)green, or blue - 2)young green grass.
清 = fresh, clear, pure (other meanings are attached)
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