In Korea many years ago it occurred to me that any type of tea can be aged into something different and potentially interesting. I came to an understanding that it doesn’t even have to be the typical type of aged tea or hei cha (puerh, liu bao, liu ann) to be aged. I came to this revelation earlier than some, influenced by the different types of tea produced in Korea many of which can be aged.
I also remember that others were also coming to the same conclusions. I remember this article in A Tea Addicts Journal, where Marshal’N pretty much reaches the same conclusion about Darjeeling Second Flush- it actually ages quite well.
The Chinese Tea Shop in Vancouver was early out of the gates selling aged white tea. The first in the western market, I do believe. I think, it was an early influence on Char of Oolong Owl who is an avid drinker and ager of white. I ended up sampling a bunch of this stuff from them in 2010. I ended up buying up a couple KG of fresh Yunnan white teas at that time to age. Actually, they were a year old and discounted heavily because at that time, people didn’t understand the aging potential of white tea. I ended up giving most of it to a family member who loved white tea and drank some of it up. In the end I didn’t even have any left to age out.
Times have changed especially over the last few years. For tea dealers there has to be a market for this stuff before they can sell it. Nowadays due to various market forces, aging of white and black tea seem to have taken hold. But for dealers to offer this tea in the first place a certain groundwork has to be laid. First, people have to be aware of the fact that they can age a particular type of tea. However, once there is a public understanding that a certain type of tea can be aged, then there is room for the tea vendor to sell more of it compared to a tea that must be consumed fresh. They can sell some to customers for current consumption and to others for later aging or maybe to the same person willing to both drink now and age.
Currently, white2tea is effectively pitching this to tea drinkers and backing it up with some white and red teas that people seem to be excited about. This is, no doubt, in response to the increasing price of puerh, mainly, but also, I believe, to changing tea drinking trends in mainland China. The last year or so white2tea have been focusing on pressing white tea. Pictured above is a complimentary sample of 2018 white2tea Turtledove Mini that I received in my Black Friday order. Turtledove uses material from Yunnan. I wasn’t a big fan of it but to be honest but I haven’t sampled pressed white tea enough to make a real educated option.
This year white2tea has also put an emphasis on red tea (aka hong cha or “black tea”) even in pressed form. I haven’t tried any from white2tea this year but pictured below is an interesting hong cha from the Essence of Tea. Most of these Hong cha are using Xishuangbanna puerh material but are processing it as lightly oxidized hong cha. This 2018 Essence of Tea Spring Da Xue Shan Wild Red Tea which I received complimentary in my Black Friday order is rather interesting though (pictured below). The material is yesheng/ wild material but processed as hong cha. It is very vibrant, intensely fresh aromatic and has a smooth very complex fruity body. I highly recommend it for those looking for something different in red tea. Too bad it wasn’t pressed into a cake.
For me, in the end, white or red tea doesn’t come close to puerh. Sure, you could age it, but really it has a different energy to it, a different qi, and effects the body differently. Well, really, you can age any good tea- I certainly have some really interesting aged tea in storage. Even some crazy expensive green teas that were selling for $1.60/g in 2006 … who says you can’t age and re-roast green tea? But will it ever be as complicated, nuanced, harmonious, and feel as good as aged puerh…
I doubt it.
I always feel, when I try other teas than puer, that something is missing. To be honest I feel a bit sad for that as I used to love oolongs and now it just seems not the same anymore. Puer addiction took over. Great post!
I agree. How many of these other aged teas can be steeped 15-20 times and taste great?
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