TIM wrote:First, have you experience any of the concern mentioned regarding 'Oolong Puerh.': "What is it exactly that is being done differently that makes the tea 'go stale in 8 plus years', give it 'high aroma, flat in the body' and make it unable to age"
If you are not aware or experiencing such issues, then it's hard to explan.
Sure, I have had teas that display these characteristics. I'm not entirely sure that they all go together necessarily, but it's interesting to consider this.
Linking the aroma and oxidation I can understand, but I'm not sure that the body of the tea is tied to this. From the teas that I've experienced, it seems the age and health of the trees has more of an influence on the body of the tea than the oxidation/aroma. I'm sure you've also had both lightly oxidised and heavily oxidised teas with thick body.
With the ageing, I can see some things that are coming together. Last Spring, we spent some time with someone in Yunnan who's been pressing puerh since the early 2000's, and been in the puerh tea business for twice that length of time. He's been experimenting with how cakes have been ageing that have had different processing techniques & noticed a big difference between those that had been dried in a heated room after pressing vs those that had been dried in the open air.
Prior to that, I hadn't considered this step very much. It seemed like the stage at which the least drastic step was taking place & the use of drying rooms is such a common practice. We tasted some of his past pressings and there did seem to be a strong correlation. The naturally dried cakes did seem to be ageing better.
In freshly pressed teas, the difference seems to be huge - the cakes dried in a heated room had strong aroma and tasted fresh soon after pressing, while naturally dried cakes seem to take months after pressing to recover from the process and have a much more subdued aroma.
From the purely business point of view, I can see why some would explicitly choose the heated room - it produces cakes which are ready to sell very soon after pressing and are exciting for newcomers to puerh - probably in much the same way as modern style TGY is exciting for newcomers to that tea. It's also standard practice in most factories - who need to press and package teas in a minimum amount of time. I think many have their tea processed in this way by default - i.e. this is what happens if they don't specify anything different.
From the point of view of someone wanting to produce cakes with lasting appeal and satisfaction, I think that natural drying of pressed cakes is an important stage in the processing - just as sun drying the leaves after shaqing & rolling is an essential stage.
This is just the drying. The rest of the processing needs to be correct also. I think Gasninja and MarshalN made good points about the shaqing and the abundance of relatively inexperienced hands doing the processing.
I'd be interested to consider this conversation further and consider other points. It's really quite interesting and one that is of importance to us all if we're going to select and age our teas well.