The concept of aged tea originated from China and it has increasingly become famous, thanks to the popularity of aged Puerh tea. Generally speaking, aging of tea is something about realizing its future potentials on its taste and quality. To be called aged tea, it needs at least to be 5 years old and stored under the relevant environmental conditions that preserve its favorable characteristics. Nowadays, you could find all kinds of aged tea in the Chinese tea market, but oolong tea, Pu-erh tea, and black tea are the most traditional ones.
Health benefits are the number one reason why aged oolong tea is praised in Chinese culture. Generally speaking, aged oolong tea is less stringent and suitable for people who have sensitive stomachs. It is also an excellent beverage for the elderly and youngsters to drink due to its gentle nature.
The research team in the Institute of Biotechnology of ZTE University showed in their research that aged tea contains low concentration of catechins, but has a high concentration of gallic acid and polyphenols. It is believed that gallic acid and polyphenols are the key to an overall cardiovascular health. Reference： https://www.nchu.edu.tw/news-detail.php?id=1813
Aged oolong tea
Old tea and aged tea are not the same. Old tea is referring to any tea that is past its normal shelf life, whose taste has depreciated. Generally, all the poor quality teas lose its flavor with time, but aged teas with high quality could actually develop a pleasant taste beyond its original flavor over time.
All aged tea started as fresh leaves and the making process of oolong tea is one of the most elaborate tea making process methods. There are two steps in the process that affect the quality of the future potential of aged tea, it is the fermentation and the roasting. Generally speaking, oolong tea which is heavily roasted and highly fermented is more suitable for aging in comparison to the green and light roasted type.
Some Oolong teas can be kept for up to 40 years or more. However, it is necessary to examine the stock regularly and re-roast it every 2 to 3 years with the inspection of the tea master. A general storage practice is to keep the tea in a sealed airtight container to prevent it from exposure to light, humidity and odor.
Aged oolong tea does not taste like fresh oolong leaves. It may have a re-fine, smooth, and less bitter taste, depending on the type of oolong and which stage it is in. It could also reveal a taste like fruit, raisins and sometimes even an earthy note which reminds of Puerh tea.
Stages of Aged Tea
During the aging process, oolong tea typically goes through three development stages.
Stage 1. 1-3 year: Fresh or Rested tea.
Stage 2. 3-5 year: Post fermentation stage, you recognize it by the fruity and berry-like fragrance.
Stage3. 5-10+ year: Peak of post fermentation, the tea starts to “settle down”, the fragrance is no longer the predominant character. You noticed the bitterness replaced with “gan”, a pleasant sweet aftertaste and smoothness. In this stage the aged tea often needs to “revive” by roasting. Roasting serves several purposes, clean the tea from excessive moisture and foreign odor, prolong the shelf life and strengthen the flavor.
Amount of water : 100-150 ml
Weight of tea : 3-5 g
Water temperature : 85 – 95 C
Brewing time : 10-30s