Storing oolong in unopened vacuum-foil bags

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Storing oolong in unopened vacuum-foil bags

by Math » Feb 26th 16 5:37 pm

We have talked a lot about storing of Oolongs and the ideal way of storing and aging them. Clay, porcelain, pewter. And yes I know this scenario is ideal.

Now how well in your opinion do roasted oolongs age in their original vacuum packs?

I know that Marshaln and a few others store oolongs in their vacuum bags. How do these teas fare in their original packages (thinking mostly of the taiwan bags) without opening?

Let's discuss.
Last edited by Math on Feb 27th 16 8:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Storing oolong in vacuum-foil bags

by wyardley » Feb 26th 16 8:59 pm

Honestly, I think heavy tin or similar is better, however I store most of my oolongs in heavy foil bags, because it's so much easier to store them, and easier to avoid having too much or too little space.

If the tea came in a bag that's substandard or has an off-odor, I'll transplant into one of my own bags. I try to label everything with tea name, year (and season) of harvest if known, time I acquired it.

Sometimes teas will get a little stale this way, but overall, I think it works Ok.

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Re: Storing oolong in vacuum-foil bags

by Math » Feb 27th 16 8:11 pm

Thanks William, I think I wasn't clear enough enough that I meant unopened bags.

How well do oolongs age in unopened vaccum packages? Are there any data on this? Experiences?

Is it ok to keep them like that or do you need to transfer them to a jar in order for them to age properly?

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Re: Storing oolong in unopened vacuum-foil bags

by debunix » Feb 28th 16 12:34 am

I leave my teas in unopened bags until I'm ready to start drinking them, but I'm not really seeking to age any of them deliberately.

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Re: Storing oolong in unopened vacuum-foil bags

by Alucard » Feb 28th 16 2:57 pm

I have no data to prove this, but I suspect some air flow is beneficial to aging tea. Let's look at puerh for a moment - stuff that is sealed away versus stuff that is in a paper wrapper....which has aged more than the other?

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Re: Storing oolong in unopened vacuum-foil bags

by Frisbeehead » Feb 28th 16 3:12 pm

From what I have read, for awakening certain oolongs (like hung shui oolongs, yancha, etc.) you want to have a little airflow, like with pu'erh. Kyarazen talked about it on his blog post about Chen's roasted dong ding.

I use these little porcelain jars that have lids with these wax stoppers for "awakening" roasted teas. For long-term aging I'm not sure if you want to keep them in jars like that though. I've noticed that if I leave my roasted dong ding in the jars for too long, it starts to degrade somewhat. Maybe this is just my imagination though? Because I've also heard that these non-air-tight clay jars are good for aging.

For teas that I want to preserve rather than awaken or age, I use mylar zip bags (like the ones from YS) or small, mostly airtight double-lidded tins.

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Re: Storing oolong in unopened vacuum-foil bags

by Tead Off » Feb 28th 16 3:52 pm

Alucard wrote:I have no data to prove this, but I suspect some air flow is beneficial to aging tea. Let's look at puerh for a moment - stuff that is sealed away versus stuff that is in a paper wrapper....which has aged more than the other?
Keep in mind that Puerh is a fermented tea. You cannot equate oolongs with them. If exposed to air, both will lose flavor and aroma over time. You need to keep both in a somewhat controlled environment. IMO, neither needs to be kept in vacuum sealed bags if you want them to age. I also think that oolongs need some air to age. Not really air flow, but not airtight, 100%. Most roasted oolongs that are left to age will be re-roasted on occasion to reduce moisture.

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Re: Storing oolong in unopened vacuum-foil bags

by Alucard » Feb 28th 16 6:29 pm

Tead Off wrote:Keep in mind that Puerh is a fermented tea. You cannot equate oolongs with them. If exposed to air, both will lose flavor and aroma over time. You need to keep both in a somewhat controlled environment. IMO, neither needs to be kept in vacuum sealed bags if you want them to age. I also think that oolongs need some air to age. Not really air flow, but not airtight, 100%. Most roasted oolongs that are left to age will be re-roasted on occasion to reduce moisture.
Good points :)

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Re: Storing oolong in unopened vacuum-foil bags

by ethan » Feb 29th 16 1:44 am

Casks of wine or whisky are not filled to the lid. There is some space, air.

Vacuum-packing is used to prevent changes. Aging is change.

Thus, +1 for comments of Teadoff.

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Re: Storing oolong in unopened vacuum-foil bags

by William » Feb 29th 16 3:31 pm

ethan wrote: Vacuum-packing is used to prevent changes. Aging is change.
We can't prevent changes, even with the best technologies available today. What we can do, is to slow down the changes, that essentially, is the main aim of vacuum packed teas.

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Re: Storing oolong in vacuum-foil bags

by wyardley » Mar 1st 16 5:54 am

Math wrote:Thanks William, I think I wasn't clear enough enough that I meant unopened bags.
Most of the teas I buy do not come vacuum sealed... wiry oolongs are usually not vacuum sealed because it can break a lot of the leaf. I typically would only store a very green oolong in a vacuum-sealed bag, and at that point, the aim would be to preserve freshness.

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Re: Storing oolong in unopened vacuum-foil bags

by kuánglóng » Mar 1st 16 12:25 pm

William wrote:
ethan wrote: Vacuum-packing is used to prevent changes. Aging is change.
We can't prevent changes, even with the best technologies available today. What we can do, is to slow down the changes, that essentially, is the main aim of vacuum packed teas.
Amen.

I have a nice variety of vacuumed teas in my stash, some up to 15 years old and some exquisite tinned tobaccos, up to 50 years of age (my entry into the world of aging but I gave up smoking long ago). As odd as it may sound I found some pretty striking similarities in the way their profiles change over time and the rapid rate of deteroration once you break that seal after so many years. I've been running a number of more or less controlled experiments with mainly some selected first and second flush Darjeelings and oolongs for some years now, and so far I'd say the results are worth that bit of extra work. Not necessarily in terms of some sort of peak experience but rather for the experience of how those teas change under certain circumstances over time.
In case of Darjeelings vacuuming definitely helps to slow down changes, as long as the teas haven't picked up any excessive moisture (>~5%) somewhere on their long trips.
Another aspect that has been discussed here before is that no matter how they've been stored, at some point teas reach a climax of their development, heading downhill from there. From what I've seen so far this generally happens much faster with 1st flush Darjeelings than 2nd flushes or say Wuyi oolongs but then a lot depends on how those teas are stored and at the end of the day, as usual, it all boils down to individual perceptions and preferences.

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Re: Storing oolong in unopened vacuum-foil bags

by ClarG » Feb 8th 17 12:07 am

Storing in vacuum sealed foil bags works well, but if those are not available an airtight tin also works.

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Re: Storing oolong in unopened vacuum-foil bags

by onjinone » Mar 8th 17 5:21 pm

The bags are sufficient in my experience as well as throughout my observations when I meet with some tea masters. And this is for oolong specifically

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Re: Storing oolong in unopened vacuum-foil bags

by jayinhk » Mar 9th 17 4:37 am

In my experience, vacuum sealing (or as close to it as possible, without damaging the leaves) is best for everything except heicha. There will still be residual air for aging, but it won't hurt the tea either. If you've ever had Wuyicha that's been exposed to humid air and turned into something like heicha, you'll know that you really DON'T want air exchange, especially in this part of the world.