AdamMY wrote:The heavier roasted oolongs often need to sit for some time ( people usually say a year or two) to let the roast "settle." When you have one of these too young it can really just taste like you are drinking tea made from ashes... somewhat tasty ashes but still ashes. If you let the roast settle and deminish the harsh ash taste goes away and you are left with all sorts of good tea flavors remaining.
I'd hope that it doesn't taste burnt; that would take several years to settle out, if it does at all.
In the first year or two the tea will taste/smell mostly of roast, which can be nice but lacking in depth or complexity. After it settles, though, it will reveal the underlying aroma, and hopefully the roast will fill out the aroma to make it fuller, rounder, and more complex; sometimes even giving it a nice caramely base, if you're lucky
A tea with any significant level of roast (even green wulong is roasted, but not to any significant degree) will also change dramatically over the course of the first year. At a few months it will even "fan qing" ("return to green") for a short while, during which it can be unpleasant. Many vendors don't sell roasted teas until at least that has passed; some hold on to them for a full year.
So whenever possible, it's best to get yancha (or any mid- to high-fire tea) that's at least a year old; I often don't drink high-fire until two years, if I can help myself.
One caveat, though, is that if the tea has any high-notes (very light, fragrant, flowery aroma) then that can start to dissipate after a couple of years (more or less, depending on the level of roast). However, after a couple years they'll often start to develop deeper characteristics (fruity, earthy, etc), and may continue to do so as it ages. It's mostly low-mid roast teas and lighter that go stale, although if stored properly, and they don't have too much moisture to begin with, they can continue on to start aging after a while.
theredbaron wrote:Often high fire is used to obfuscate low quality leaves (but not always!).
This has become something of a truism around here, but bad tea is bad tea and roasting doesn't change that. In a comparison between a good roasted tea and a poor roasted tea, there's no contest -- especially after the roast settles (on the good tea, anyway; it may never really settle on the poor one).
Roasting can give 'definition' to the aroma, but if the aroma isn't there in the first place then roasting will just make for a very generic 'roasted' aroma. Roast can add a little
something in some cases, but it will still be a weak, thin, unsatisfying tea. Good roasted tea is excellent; I much prefer it to green, unroasted wulong.
I think that rather than touting roasted teas as likely to be inferior, it's more productive to talk about recognizing quality tea; cynical remarks can be (and are) said about any/every type of tea. The majority of ALL tea is relatively poor quality, and I don't think the ratio is really any higher with roasted tea. I've also encountered grocery store roasted TGY that wasn't any good when brewed in a small pot, but turned out quite good when brewed big-pot; of course that's how mass-market tea is meant
to be brewed.
teaism wrote:Make sure they are in air tight container or sealed bag for long term storage. You can also vacuum pack them in mylar bag in smaller quantity.
You want an airtight container, but the roast won't really settle without some
air. Yancha will settle out (and age) faster in a tin than a bag, but vacuum sealing a tea will keep it in its current state for a good while. I've had greener teas that were vacuum packed 10-15 yrs prior that didn't seem more than a couple years, or so, old.