Experiment aging oolong

Owes its flavors to oxidation levels between green & black tea.

Jul 8th, '12, 14:01
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Experiment aging oolong

by steanze » Jul 8th, '12, 14:01

Hi! I finally decided to try aging oolong. Reading around on teachat and other websites I put together some ideas on how to proceed, and I would like to hear your thoughts and suggestions. The goal is to obtain a tea that has different flavor and aroma with respect to new teas, mellower, perhaps more complex, and perhaps with a very slight sourness.

I will use tea that has a strong rather than a delicate flavor. If the flavor gets mellower with aging, a delicate tea might run the risk of becoming bland. Often stronger tea is preferred for long-term aging also in the case of pu-erh.
I also decided to use tea that is not extremely high grade/expensive. I am just starting to experiment, so I don't want to ruin excellent tea. Furthermore, since it is often difficult to predict what the tea will taste/smell like after aging, it is not that clear that a very high grade tea will always turn into a better aged tea (although it's very unlikely that a really bad tea will become good with aging).

There has been a lot of discussion on this in teachat. For this experiment, I will try using a container with a tight double lid (http://www.jkteashop.com/tin-canister-5 ... p-508.html). I will not seal it, as suggested for instance by Tea from Taiwan (http://www.teafromtaiwan.com/aged_oolong_tea). I decided to use a metal jar, as suggested by Imen (http://tea-obsession.blogspot.com/2009/ ... oenix.html) and specifically a tin jar, because in addition to not letting light in it might take up the aroma of the tea (more so than a steel jar) and that might help with aging. This is just speculation, so we'll see how it turns out.
To reduce the humidity inside the jar, I want to try the idea of putting some paper inside the jar on top of the tea, as suggested by Tea from Taiwan (http://www.teafromtaiwan.com/aged_oolong_tea). I am even considering using packets of silica gel as suggested here: http://www.viconyteas.com/directory/tea ... orage.html.
I will use the oven to dry the tea every year or so for the first 2-3 years, and perhaps every 2 years or so later on. I'll think more about the details of this when the time comes.

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Jul 8th, '12, 16:29
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Re: Experiment aging oolong

by wyardley » Jul 8th, '12, 16:29

A desiccant is unlikely to be much help -- those little tiny packets can only absorb so much moisture (which is why they're useless once a vacuum sealed packet has been opened), so I'm guessing that unless you have a very tight seal and an almost total vacuum, it will be of limited benefit.

Unless you live in a really humid climate, I'd say that you probably don't need to be super careful about keeping moisture out of oolongs you're aging. But it's also a matter of personal taste.

My other advice (as someone who's kept a fair amount of inexpensive tea around) is that it's probably not really going to improve with age. If you're going to purposely "age" tea, age a tea that tastes good now. A tea that has a healthier than usual dose of oxidation, but not too heavy a roast (sufficient, but not too heavy), would be my pick as the best type of tea to age.

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Jul 9th, '12, 10:07
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Re: Experiment aging oolong

by tingjunkie » Jul 9th, '12, 10:07

I'm with wyardley here. Find a well roasted tea, pack your container as full as possible, put it in a dark, dry place, and forget about it for a few years. Re-roasting every year or so is unnecessary, unless you are letting a lot of humidity get to the tea. There are experienced Taiwanese roasters who will re-roast many times, but it is very hard to do well, and it's definitely not done in a regular oven. If you like your aged oolongs to have a sour taste, that's your preference, but for me it usually indicates a poorly stored tea. Notes of raisin or dates is common, but I wouldn't say sour.

Jul 9th, '12, 23:50
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Re: Experiment aging oolong

by steanze » Jul 9th, '12, 23:50

Thanks for the suggestions!
Yep, the tea tastes good now, is just not a $$$$ tea :)
Unfortunately I don't have the tea re-roaster. I read about using the oven or a rice cooker, but since I have an oven with which I can control the temperature quite well I was thinking to opt for that. Given your advice, I'll probably put it in the oven less frequently :)

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