Very aged oolong/baozhong flavor???

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Very aged oolong/baozhong flavor???

Postby TokyoB » Nov 24th, '08, 13:41

Hi! This is my first post here....
So, lately I've had a few very old teas and am wondering what flavor is "typical" or "desired" (although I'm sure the latter is in the eye of the drinker.) What I mean specifically is that I had 2 aged baozhongs that were both supposedly over 30 years old. One tasted like one might expect - roasted but mellow. The other was similar but with a pu-erh like flavor - slightly musty?? I also had an aged Wuyi that was supposedly over 10 years old. It also had a slightly musty flavor but not to the same extent as the baozhong. Does anyone have experience drinking these fairly old teas? What are the flavors of what you've had? Is the musty flavor "bad" or a sign of mold or poor storage?

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Postby wyardley » Nov 24th, '08, 13:58

Funny - there was an almost identical thread (started by someone else) this morning somewhere else.

I think the way the tea comes out depends both on storage and how often it's re-roasted. Sourness and too much mustiness can be indicative of bad storage, but I think overall, it's more just a matter of what you prefer - as long as the tea doesn't have an unpleasant taste and doesn't have anything funky growing on it, I think it should be relatively safe.

My guess is that one difference between the baozhong and the aged yan cha you're talking about is that even while baozhongs that are aged are typically roasted more than the type that are popular now, it may have been less roasted to start with (and / or been re-roasted less often) than the rock tea.

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Postby TokyoB » Nov 24th, '08, 14:43

Will, where is the other thread? One of the aged baozhongs (non-musty one) was from Stephane at TeaMasters. The other was from a small Ebay vendor. Supposedly the one from the small vendor was only re-roasted 4 or 5 times over 30 years. The aged Wuyi is from Wistaria teahouse in Taipei and I don't know much about it but it appears that it may have only been roasted once. There is no strong roast flavor like teas that have been re-roasted. I wrote Stephane about this issue and his opinon was that aged teas shouldn't have that musty flavor. I admit I don't like the musty baozhong that much but the Wuyi is not bad.

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Postby heavydoom » Nov 26th, '08, 22:36

TokyoB wrote:Will, where is the other thread? One of the aged baozhongs (non-musty one) was from Stephane at TeaMasters. The other was from a small Ebay vendor. Supposedly the one from the small vendor was only re-roasted 4 or 5 times over 30 years. The aged Wuyi is from Wistaria teahouse in Taipei and I don't know much about it but it appears that it may have only been roasted once. There is no strong roast flavor like teas that have been re-roasted. I wrote Stephane about this issue and his opinon was that aged teas shouldn't have that musty flavor. I admit I don't like the musty baozhong that much but the Wuyi is not bad.


your small ebay vendor is sampan? i got a generous amount of some 30 year old bao zhong, thanks, eloi, if you are lurking, and it tasted very lightly like aged pu erh. the leaves were very dark, stiff and long. slight earthiness in taste but very subtle. a very light tea since i put a large amount of tea in a small vessel. first time ever for me tasting an aged bao zhong. don't think that i will ever get this for consumption.

aged oolong? don't we age oolong by re roasting oolong every so often? or are there other methods to age oolong? imo, oolong is a tricky customer to deal with. there are so many variety to keep track of. :evil:

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Postby teaguy » Nov 27th, '08, 06:05

The musty smell with the baojong is most likely a 'flaw' in the process somewhere. It may have not been sealed, or picked up some odors somewhere along the way, or not been a very good baojong to start with.

There's never a guarantee that aging will improve a tea. Some good teas age poorly, some poor teas age very well. That's what makes it a tricky proposition all around.

RE to heavydoom:

aging and roasting are different things. The only way to really age a tea is to, well, let it get old. Re-roasting is used to 'refreshen' or improve a tea as needed, and is extremely complicated. One tea might age for 30 years and be excellent right out of the bag, while another may need frequent trips to the ovens to maintain its drinkability.

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Postby heavydoom » Nov 27th, '08, 14:12

teaguy wrote:The musty smell with the baojong is most likely a 'flaw' in the process somewhere. It may have not been sealed, or picked up some odors somewhere along the way, or not been a very good baojong to start with.

There's never a guarantee that aging will improve a tea. Some good teas age poorly, some poor teas age very well. That's what makes it a tricky proposition all around.

RE to heavydoom:

aging and roasting are different things. The only way to really age a tea is to, well, let it get old. Re-roasting is used to 'refreshen' or improve a tea as needed, and is extremely complicated. One tea might age for 30 years and be excellent right out of the bag, while another may need frequent trips to the ovens to maintain its drinkability.


word.

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Postby ABx » Nov 27th, '08, 14:43

teaguy wrote:The musty smell with the baojong is most likely a 'flaw' in the process somewhere. It may have not been sealed, or picked up some odors somewhere along the way, or not been a very good baojong to start with.

There's never a guarantee that aging will improve a tea. Some good teas age poorly, some poor teas age very well. That's what makes it a tricky proposition all around.
In a way it's kind of hard to call it 'flawed' since some people seem to like these. I have one now that it seems went just a tiny bit long between infusions, as it has just the slightest hint of earthy mustiness buried deep in the layers of great complexity. This adds just a little more dimension that actually enhances it. I don't know if it was intentional or not, but it does make it that much nicer.

The thing I've noticed with those earthy ones is that when there's any info on the aging history of the tea, these are the ones that typically got forgotten about in someone's house - basically home-aged, and probably not intentionally. I also suspect that the humidity has something to do with it.

So I also wonder whether it's really that any teas don't age well as much as it is that they're not as easy to age in your particular environment. Some don't seem to mind some air, others seem to need to be sealed and protected as possible. Some benefit more from roasting, and others can go without - though I've gathered that the roasting seems to be more about driving out moisture more than anything. The main thing is that I think that you just can't tell what any one tea needs until it actually starts to age, and I think it has as much to do with environment as anything. I suspect that, for example, a tea that might not age well for you in a sealed ceramic jar may age well for me in a tin.

Unfortunately I haven't seen much info about the subject - I suspect that there aren't that many people in the industry that really have expertise in aging wulong teas. Even those like Guang that know how and when to re-roast don't seem to know as much about it as they do about other teas. I have to admit, though, that that's actually part of the appeal to me. I plan on aging some, but really only the ones that I don't like as much and would otherwise probably throw away. If it turns out then great, and if not then there's no real loss. The only real exception is yancha, which I typically don't like when it's new, but I don't know that I will try to age any for 10+ years - at least not intentionally.

Generally, though, I agree with your thoughts, and I generally don't like "wet stored" aged wulong.

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Re: Very aged oolong/baozhong flavor???

Postby T3aLeaves » Jan 27th, '16, 10:08

TokyoB wrote:Hi! This is my first post here....
So, lately I've had a few very old teas and am wondering what flavor is "typical" or "desired" (although I'm sure the latter is in the eye of the drinker.) What I mean specifically is that I had 2 aged baozhongs that were both supposedly over 30 years old. One tasted like one might expect - roasted but mellow. The other was similar but with a pu-erh like flavor - slightly musty?? I also had an aged Wuyi that was supposedly over 10 years old. It also had a slightly musty flavor but not to the same extent as the baozhong. Does anyone have experience drinking these fairly old teas? What are the flavors of what you've had? Is the musty flavor "bad" or a sign of mold or poor storage?


How long can you keep Oolong tea before it goes off? I've heard of some people drinking very old tea but it's just a plant at the end of the day so there must be a point where it's not longer safe to drink right?

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Re: Very aged oolong/baozhong flavor???

Postby jayinhk » Jan 27th, '16, 10:56

Tea deteriorates over time--even pu erh can be pretty much flavorless after fifty or sixty years. The 60s pu erh at Wistaria tasted like storage and nothing else.

I had some examples of aged baozhong in Pinglin that tasted like shu pu erh and others that were heavily roasted. I felt the roasted stuff might have been faked and the pu erh kind was obviously stored badly (and had fermented). I've had really good aged baozhong too and it's an entirely different beast, and tastes much like a good aged oolong. I was fortunate to buy four taels (150g) from a good source last year. They are all out of it now.

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Re: Very aged oolong/baozhong flavor???

Postby wyardley » Jan 27th, '16, 14:08

jayinhk wrote:Tea deteriorates over time--even pu erh can be pretty much flavorless after fifty or sixty years. The 60s pu erh at Wistaria tasted like storage and nothing else.

Which 60s pu'er? Wistaria has a number of old pu'ers at different price point, and storage and quality varies (though tends to track the price). I don't know if they have it still, but the 20s shuanghua they had was fantastic, and not so expensive that one couldn't try a little.

I disagree, though of course good storage is key here. I have been lucky enough to try some older pu'ers at one point or another, and to me, 1960s-1970s is the starting point for when pu'er has a kind of "integrated" aged taste, before that, a lot of pu'er will still either have some freshness or some storage taste. When you have a well aged tea from that era or before, there's something special about it that's hard to put in words... talking about flavor does start to become almost pointless, because (to me, at least), the tea just tastes "old" (you might refer to the tea as tasting like Chinese herbal medicine, or "comfort").

I don't think oolongs will taste good for as long as pu'ers (with some pu'ers from before the turn of the century still tasting quite good), but I have also had baozhongs and other aged oolongs said to be from the 60s or before, though of course it's always hard to know for sure. With oolongs too, storage and re-roasting will really affect the flavor.

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Re: Very aged oolong/baozhong flavor???

Postby jayinhk » Jan 27th, '16, 22:59

Wistaria only had one old pu erh on the menu and it was disappointing flavor-wise, although it did have amazing cha qi (to me). Perhaps it was just a bad example of an aged pu erh. It was also priced the same as the rest of the pu erh.

I agree that pu erh should last longer than oolongs because of the compression and the older, thicker leaves often used. Reroasting and storage are important factors in oolong longevity too. I haven't had any really old oolongs, but I personally prefer my oolongs more aromatic and flavorful. Aged oolong is expensive and not really my thing (I know, blasphemy to many)!

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Re: Very aged oolong/baozhong flavor???

Postby .m. » Jan 28th, '16, 03:29

You may wanna try refreshing the one that tastes musty, it may improve it quite a bit:
viewtopic.php?f=20&t=19062
viewtopic.php?f=36&t=20095&hilit=refreshing

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Re: Very aged oolong/baozhong flavor???

Postby AdmiralKelvinator » Jan 28th, '16, 22:13

For me, "off" notes in Aged Oolongs come in two flavors.

The first is the musty, earthy, "damp basement" flavors that kinda remind me of wet-stored puerh. For me its not really a desirable flavor for an oolong (or for puerh but thats another story :twisted: ) , but if there's other flavors in conjunction it doesn't interfere too much.

The second is sourness which can show up suddenly in the 2nd or 3rd steeps. A little fruity tartness is I think a very nice quality for aged oolongs to have, but this sourness can can grow and overwhelm the rest of the flavors and become unpleasant.

I wonder, what are the conditions that give the tea one flavor or another? humidity and moisture are the main causes I gather, but why one tea gains musty flavors and another sour flavors I can't say.

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Re: Very aged oolong/baozhong flavor???

Postby Tead Off » Jan 28th, '16, 22:43

I think both musty and sour can be corrected by 'refreshing'. By roasting the tea very gently, you can remove the mustiness quite easily. I recently had a roasted 10yr TGY that bothered me a lot because of this mustiness. After refreshing, the tea became what I was after when I bought it. When I mentioned this to the vendor, they couldn't grasp what I was talking about. They thought this flavor was a 'preferred' one as many puerh people have gotten used to storage flavor and aroma and mustiness.

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Re: Very aged oolong/baozhong flavor???

Postby jayinhk » Jan 28th, '16, 22:54

I've had good experience refreshing oolongs too, but I've never bought the musty kind! Good to know that those aromas can be driven off with a little gentle heat.

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