Compressed black tea compared to loose

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Mar 20th 19 8:17 am
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Compressed black tea compared to loose

by pants404 » Mar 20th 19 8:17 am

Having seen a few different Bings of black tea for sale from multiple vendors I am wondering if there is much difference between comparable compressed and loose black tea. Can/should it be aged, or just treat it like any other black?
Thanks in advance

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Mar 21st 19 3:45 am
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Re: Compressed black tea compared to loose

by john.b » Mar 21st 19 3:45 am

Bearing in mind that I'm just passing on hearsay (which I'll describe in relation to personal experience) the main idea that comes up is that sun-dried versions of Yunnan black teas (shai hong) are said to improve with age but oven-dried versions (dian hong) are not.

That still requires some extrapolation, beyond interpreting why that might be and if it's actually true in general. It's hard to do justice to the full explanation, but the short version is that somewhat vaguely related to sheng pu'er processing sun drying a version doesn't deactivate the compounds that enable aging in the same way oven drying does. I've tried aged versions of shai hong and it seems to work out that way. Only in one case did I ever try a version and then retry that same tea more than a year later though, and in the other cases I was just trying different types of teas of different ages.

It might be seen as following that most other kinds of black teas would not improve with age. Of course some people are going to reject that, just as any opinion about anything related to tea is going to meet with disagreement and varying understanding (and experience; other claims typically support both sides of most differences of opinion).

I've tried compressed black teas of various ages and one version was a really appealing tea, one of the more interesting and pleasant black teas I've yet to try. Some others included a bit of tartness that isn't my favorite among black tea aspects. I'm not sure it would really make much difference if a tea was compressed or not, and the typical take is that it makes some difference related to air contact but in general loose (maocha) versions age similarly.

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Mar 21st 19 3:54 am
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Re: Compressed black tea compared to loose

by john.b » Mar 21st 19 3:54 am

While I'm on the subject I'll add a bit about sources, related to some of what I've tried and related options. This is a review of that one version I really liked:

http://teaintheancientworld.blogspot.co ... -hong.html

I have no idea if their more recent similar tea is actually very similar but they did add another version to their stock:

https://www.teasenz.com/sun-dried-black ... JMI1igzY2w

I haven't tried it but this is a vendor that comes up a lot related to pu'er, and a product that seems related:

https://yunnansourcing.com/products/201 ... k-tea-cake

This vendor sells loose versions of different ages, mentioning enough product details to flag sun-dried versus oven-dried versions, potentially a good opportunity for trying to get a feel for aging effects:

https://tea-side.com/

I've liked Moychay teas in general, including the compressed black tea versions I've tried from them, but this listing has a limitation in not mentioning tea processing details, related to that style divide mentioned. They also sell aged loose versions, which could work to support exploration:

https://moychay.com/catalog/krasnyj_cha ... 2018-100-g

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Mar 21st 19 3:59 am
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Re: Compressed black tea compared to loose

by john.b » Mar 21st 19 3:59 am

On a completely different subject, that is still related, a friend just mentioned this aged oolong compressed tea version:

https://verdanttea.com/teas/2010-aged-p ... nyin-cake/

Verdant is probably best known for a tea-tree age scandal at this point, the typical 1600 year old plant source theme, but that doesn't really change whether or not this tea is exactly what it's sold as or if it's any good. It sounds good; maybe it is. I've not experienced oolongs as changing much from aging but then I've only tried and reviewed 4 or 5 versions of them.

They do change, I guess I just don't "get it" related to seeing the type and degree of shift in character as appealing, especially related to justifying the cost. That Verdant tea version isn't really high in price so maybe it still makes more sense.

Aging highly roasted Wuyi Yancha for a year or two, or more, is a completely different thing, conventionally regarded as a more typical and grounded practice that really does improve character, allowing for "char" effect to drop out and a final result to be even more positive than using a lighter initial roast.