PolyhymnianMuse wrote:This thread seems to have died more or less, but I think it deserved to be brought back up, if only for my own curiousity...
What kind of factors make an oolong "probably" a good choice for ageing. I'v read that air tight and little exposure to air is the best way to age oolongs. What is the reasoning behind this? Those are just a few things im unclear about off the top of my head. Is there anywhere I can read up on the ageing of oolong teas?
There have been a couple of decent discussions on this on rec.food.drink.tea, though more questions than answers. I don't think there are any firm answers on this subject (like most things tea related), and the amount of knowledge that's out there in English is smaller still.
My opinion is that all types of oolongs can be aged, but that different ones need to be treated differently (in different environments). It's clear that *some* air is necessary, otherwise the tea won't really age at all, however I think most people would agree that you should have very little air (i.e., a full container), and very low moisture / humidity. If the tea is very roasted, it may not need re-roasting; if it's a lighter tea, it may need to be re-roasted, even if it's kept pretty dry.
I have a lot more comments in the first of these two threads below:
See also some vendors' opinions on how to age oolong properly / what type of oolongs age well.
http://teamasters.blogspot.com/2006/09/ ... olong.html
In my (limited) experience, greener oolongs tend to get stale first, before they age, so there's an "awkward period" (kind of like when you're growing out hair) where the tea is just flat and doesn't taste good. However, as someone pointed out to me, teas that aren't heavily roasted tend to change the most, so if you can keep them dry enough, the payoff can be really big if you manage to successfully age the tea.
I believe in hedging my bets when I age tea - try a few different types of container, with different levels of air flow, and see what works. I'm also lucky (in a way) to live in an environment that while it's bad for aging pu'er (not that humid), is ideal for aging oolong.