Do some Oolongs get better with age?


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Do some Oolongs get better with age?

Postby omegapd » Jun 12th, '08, 15:14

Oolong ignorant here...

I see on some places that they're selling 2006 and 2007 Li-shan (is that right? Doesn't look right since I typed it). Anyway, do they get better with age?

Trying to learn... 8)

EW
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Postby Eastree » Jun 12th, '08, 15:36

At least some Oolongs get better with age. I bought some aged Bei Dou last year, and it's wonderful.

The last I heard of aging oolongs was also last year, at least when people discussed it in any length. IIRC, it should be stored as any other tea (save pu): In an air-tight container, etc. People experimenting with aged teas talked about how after six months or so there was a noticeable difference -- mostly a mellowness which the tea did not previously possess.
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Re: Do some Oolongs get better with age?

Postby tenuki » Jun 12th, '08, 18:39

omegapd wrote:Oolong ignorant here...

I see on some places that they're selling 2006 and 2007 Li-shan (is that right? Doesn't look right since I typed it). Anyway, do they get better with age?

Trying to learn... 8)

EW


Yes, but they have to be prepared for aging properly, sometimes up/down roasted for _months_ prior to storage and also stored in an airtight container usually (there are a few exceptions).

The teas you are talking about (ie 2006, 2007) are _not_ aged oolongs, they are simply vacuum packed, which has a self life of a couple of years, after which they are generally subjected to a _refresh_ roast. Oolong lovers should learn how to do this refresh roasting IMO, it will save many a tea from the trash can.

I would really encourage you to look on Hou De and find some aged oolongs to order samples of as that would be the best answer to your question. ;) I love aged oolongs, and have never gotten a bad one from Hou De. I'm actually preparing a baozhong right now for aging, as soon as I find a suitable container I'll do the last roast. The container is an issue for me because I want something that I wouldn't mind sitting around my tea area for 10-20 years... ;D

And by aged, I mean 90s or later, if the year starts with a 2 it isn't aged IMO.
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Postby Victoria » Jun 12th, '08, 19:04

What Tenuki said.

Unless you are talking about what I think you are talking about, then you know what I'm talking about. Oy.
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Postby chrl42 » Jun 12th, '08, 21:31

I might say, dark Oolong like Wuyi types, properly stored for 1 or 2 yrs might lead to more balanced tastes..

However, light Oolongs such as TKY, it's better to finish off as quick as possible - just my opinion, that's why TKY sellers store their tea in a fridge while DHP sellers leave it to air.

And aged Oolongs on the market are a whole different story.
I once tasted 20-yr-old Da Hong Pao with lots of Hong Bei (heating process) done, it tasted just like Puerh Sheng and not reminiscent of Da Hong Pao at all..
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Postby Proinsias » Jun 13th, '08, 09:52

I would say that the more it resembles green tea the less keen I would be to age it, and the more it resembles red tea, or heavily roasted tea, then the more keen I would be to age it.

If it tastes overly roasted or processed then I tend to chuck it in a corner for a while. If it tastes fresher than a fresh things fresh bits then I drink up quick.
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Re: Do some Oolongs get better with age?

Postby britt » Jun 23rd, '08, 20:31

omegapd wrote:Oolong ignorant here...

I see on some places that they're selling 2006 and 2007 Li-shan (is that right? Doesn't look right since I typed it). Anyway, do they get better with age?

Trying to learn... 8)

EW


There is a difference between old oolong and properly aged oolong. Maybe some do get better when they get old, but the aged oolongs go through a very specific process. Some of the teas you mentioned look like they may just be leftover teas the vendor wasn't able to sell. This doesn't necessarily make them bad, in fact they may be very good, but they're not the same as the intentionally aged oolongs.

Since you're a black tea drinker, you may very well take to the (properly) aged oolongs, as they're quite different from the others. They are usually much darker and have more of a kick to them. I love them, drink them regularly, and as someone else pointed out, I get mine from Hou De and I've never been disappointed.
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Re: Do some Oolongs get better with age?

Postby bearsbearsbears » Jun 24th, '08, 17:29

tenuki wrote:Yes, but they have to be prepared for aging properly, sometimes up/down roasted for _months_ prior to storage and also stored in an airtight container usually (there are a few exceptions).


That's not really true. While today many people try to prepare oolong for storage via roasting, much aged oolong on the market never underwent supplemental roastings before, during, or after storage, and most of the aged oolong on the market today was incidentally aged; it didn't sell but was too valuable to toss out.

See Lawrence's (marshaln's) blog for more info from someone who experienced purchasing and tasting aged oolongs in Taiwan first-hand.
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Re: Do some Oolongs get better with age?

Postby tenuki » Jun 24th, '08, 17:54

bearsbearsbears wrote:
tenuki wrote:Yes, but they have to be prepared for aging properly, sometimes up/down roasted for _months_ prior to storage and also stored in an airtight container usually (there are a few exceptions).


That's not really true. While today many people try to prepare oolong for storage via roasting, much aged oolong on the market never underwent supplemental roastings before, during, or after storage, and most of the aged oolong on the market today was incidentally aged; it didn't sell but was too valuable to toss out.

See Lawrence's (marshaln's) blog for more info from someone who experienced purchasing and tasting aged oolongs in Taiwan first-hand.


that is why I said 'sometimes'. ;) I'm aware of what you are talking about, and it's very good information. However, I think the general consensus is that what I describe increases the chances that it will age well, right? From what I understand aging processing has traditionally been a household knowledge sort of thing and isn't 'recent' really.

And yes, I read MarshalNs blog and it is _one_ of the sources of my info on aged oolongs.
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Re: Do some Oolongs get better with age?

Postby bearsbearsbears » Jun 24th, '08, 18:36

tenuki wrote:However, I think the general consensus is that what I describe increases the chances that it will age well, right?


If by general consensus you mean vendor consensus, then yes.

tenuki wrote:From what I understand aging processing has traditionally been a household knowledge sort of thing and isn't 'recent' really.


There isn't much of a "tradition" of aging oolongs. Roastings and storage conditions were shopkeeper experimentations after they were confronted with unsold volumes of tea. Each shop has a different approach on keeping oolongs: whether to roast them, how to roast them, how to store them. Shop owners generally aren't master tea roasters, and procedures vary from shop to shop. There's no traditional knowledge regarding roasting and storage. There's simply no consensus.

For example, regarding roasting, different shopkeepers:
Roast an oolong with one dry roast and pack it
Roast an oolong in an up and down roasting pattern
Don't roast an oolong but roast it periodically during XX years of storage
Don't roast an oolong and roast it after XX years of storage
Don't roast an oolong before or after storage

Regarding storage:
Store in an mostly airtight metal container
Store in a roughly airtight paper foil container (HK, Guangzhou)
Store in unglazed clay jar and wax seal it
Store in a glazed jar and wax seal it
Store open air in bags

One older Taiwanese shop even compresses oolongs and stores them open-air like pu'er.

What vendors say is ageable tea and ageable storage condition often, unsurprisingly, is an indication of what oolongs they sell, both new and aged, and more than one vendor has changed their opinion on what oolong can "age" which storage condition(s) foster good aged oolong.

Your mileage may vary. I've had oolongs of multiple storages and roastings and enjoyed some and not enjoyed others. There's no "should" here.
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Re: Do some Oolongs get better with age?

Postby tenuki » Jun 24th, '08, 19:02

bearsbearsbears wrote:
tenuki wrote:From what I understand aging processing has traditionally been a household knowledge sort of thing and isn't 'recent' really.


There isn't much of a "tradition" of aging oolongs. Roastings and storage conditions were shopkeeper experimentations after they were confronted with unsold volumes of tea. Each shop has a different approach on keeping oolongs: whether to roast them, how to roast them, how to store them. Shop owners generally aren't master tea roasters, and procedures vary from shop to shop. There's no traditional knowledge regarding roasting and storage. There's simply no consensus.


that's what I meant by household knowledge, ie each household/shop had their own 'formula/process'. We are saying the same thing bears. Each shop has a tradition/approach, that would be traditional knowledge, right? Maybe no consensus, but certainly not nilly willy.

Interesting stuff.
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Re: Do some Oolongs get better with age?

Postby bearsbearsbears » Jun 24th, '08, 19:42

tenuki wrote:that's what I meant by household knowledge, ie each household/shop had their own 'formula/process'. We are saying the same thing bears. Each shop has a tradition/approach, that would be traditional knowledge, right? Maybe no consensus, but certainly not nilly willy.


I think where we're not saying the same thing is the difference between approach, tradition, and knowledge. Also, I think the vastly different storage and roasting methods used throughout Asia do imply a "willy-nilly" approach to the process of aging oolongs as a whole, even if shops maintain their own "traditions". I don't find good evidence of any standard "knowledge" about aging oolongs, and personally find more satisfaction in tasting this diversity and experimentation than in choosing the one or two trans-pacific shops'/vendors' ideas regarding aged oolong preparation. I don't mix of trust and money if I don't have to.

Mostly, I think your earlier comments are a bit oversimplified, at least insomuch as they imply one method of preparation (preparing at all!) where in fact a diversity and difference of opinions exists. An oolong doesn't have to be prepared in some way before aging and doesn't have to be stored in an airtight container to age into something nice. Simplifying the process, while it's convenient and easy to digest for someone new to aged oolongs, doesn't give an accurate picture about the haphazardry that is oolong aging in Asia for the past 50 years
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Re: Do some Oolongs get better with age?

Postby tenuki » Jun 24th, '08, 19:47

bearsbearsbears wrote:Simplifying the process, while it's convenient and easy to digest for someone new to aged oolongs, doesn't give an accurate picture about the haphazardry that is oolong aging in Asia for the past 50 years


Oh brother, see the OP....

omegapd wrote:Oolong ignorant here...
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Re: Do some Oolongs get better with age?

Postby bearsbearsbears » Jun 24th, '08, 19:56

tenuki wrote:Oh brother, see the OP....
omegapd wrote:Oolong ignorant here...


Ignorance isn't an excuse to expound a partial truth. :wink: Oolong isn't easy or convenient to learn about, aged oolong far less so. That's one reason why it's so fun.
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Re: Do some Oolongs get better with age?

Postby tenuki » Jun 24th, '08, 20:27

bearsbearsbears wrote:
tenuki wrote:Oh brother, see the OP....
omegapd wrote:Oolong ignorant here...


Ignorance isn't an excuse to expound a partial truth. :wink: Oolong isn't easy or convenient to learn about, aged oolong far less so. That's one reason why it's so fun.


I was wrong, thanks so much for giving the complete picture. :roll:
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