What Oolong Are You Drinking

Semi-oxidized tea
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LeoFox
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Thu Jan 13, 2022 12:39 pm

Recently, I had the opportunity to try 2 teas from Chen Huan Tang, aka Laoshi (teacher) - both from 2020 winter: one labeled as from HeHuan mountain purchased from Tillerman Tea, and the other a very generous sample gift (lishan roast) from a friend directly acquired from the shop of Chen Huan Tang in Taiwan. Tillerman's tea is a little more expensive ( 35$/56g for tillerman, 0.5$/1g for direct from shop)

Direct from shop:



From Tillerman:

dyungim
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Fri Jan 14, 2022 7:46 pm

Can anyone here recommend oolongs (ideally dancong but not necessarily) that are similar to Wuyi Origin's Old Bush Mi Lan Xiang from Li Zhai Ping village?

I'm not a fan of greener oolongs and it seems to be increasingly more difficult to find ones that are not too green in this style.
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TeaTotaling
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Thu Jan 20, 2022 6:52 pm

dyungim wrote:
Fri Jan 14, 2022 7:46 pm
Can anyone here recommend oolongs (ideally dancong but not necessarily) that are similar to Wuyi Origin's Old Bush Mi Lan Xiang from Li Zhai Ping village?

I'm not a fan of greener oolongs and it seems to be increasingly more difficult to find ones that are not too green in this style.
I liked the 2021 MLX from Tea Habitat.
Stevelaughs
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Thu Jan 20, 2022 9:15 pm

Tonight I brewed a Lei Kou Chai Fenghuang Dancong from Tea Drunk NYC. This tea is really quite expensive, but wowww... is it worth it. The roast is elegant, the floral aroma is gentle and permeating. The texture is silky and sumptuous as hell. I melted into this tea. What a lovely session!

7g, 212F, 110ml
First 4 brews: 5-10 sec
last 5 brews: 10+ sec (pushing 3-5 seconds progressively)

It starts off quite light, but the aroma is truly captivating. There is a refreshing citrus note, and the texture develops nicely, bringing out the elegant roast of the tea, which persists thoroughly to the end.

This is a very clean tea. Damn.
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mbanu
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Thu Jan 20, 2022 10:19 pm

Had some Foojoy organic "Shui Hsien Wuyi Oolong" that was getting pretty tired (bought from a vendor who doesn't seem to sell much, then several months being neglected for other teas), so I decided to give it a go with gongfu brewing. A fine second life for an old tea. :D
Stevelaughs
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Fri Jan 21, 2022 7:48 pm

mbanu wrote:
Thu Jan 20, 2022 10:19 pm
Had some Foojoy organic "Shui Hsien Wuyi Oolong" that was getting pretty tired (bought from a vendor who doesn't seem to sell much, then several months being neglected for other teas), so I decided to give it a go with gongfu brewing. A fine second life for an old tea. :D
I really want to learn more about aging oolong. It's interesting that you say your shui xian was "getting pretty tired." I've heard that it's theoretically impossible to age oolong as the enzymatic activity is, or should be, nil. So the tea is essentially decaying after a certain point.

I recently bought a 2013 Ma Tou Yan Shui Xian from Red Blossom... I need to try it again, but my first impression was that it really lacked the freshness and vibrancy I seek even in a heavily roasted oolong.

As you say, I think it was getting pretty tired.
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mbanu
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Fri Jan 21, 2022 8:38 pm

Stevelaughs wrote:
Fri Jan 21, 2022 7:48 pm
mbanu wrote:
Thu Jan 20, 2022 10:19 pm
Had some Foojoy organic "Shui Hsien Wuyi Oolong" that was getting pretty tired (bought from a vendor who doesn't seem to sell much, then several months being neglected for other teas), so I decided to give it a go with gongfu brewing. A fine second life for an old tea. :D
I really want to learn more about aging oolong. It's interesting that you say your shui xian was "getting pretty tired." I've heard that it's theoretically impossible to age oolong as the enzymatic activity is, or should be, nil. So the tea is essentially decaying after a certain point.
I think there are four things going on (outside of marketing, which is sort of the unspoken fifth reason):

1. The oolong is indeed just going stale, but that helps because it was not carefully fired, so even though some of the tea flavor fades away, some of the char flavor fades away too. There were occasional travelers' remarks in the 19th century about how some oolong drinkers in China would intentionally leave the tea alone for a year for this reason. The Brits on the other hand, simply became frustrated enough with burnt teas that when they started their own industry, there was a heavy emphasis on avoiding even the slightest hint of it. This can often be seen today -- the closest it gets is a little malt in an Assam, anything heavier is rejected, and a lot of British tea-making's historical focus has been on developing and improving tea-firing machines.

2. The oolong is going rancid. Rancidity is a type of staleness, but it creates new flavors rather than just having flavors fade like with flatness. This usually happens with dry teas kept in dry places -- a similar thing happened with Keemun, leading to a small following in some places for "winey" Keemun, which develops fruity flavors during that window of time. With Keemun at least, there is a trade-off because it is impossible to cause rancidity without some degree of flatness, so it wasn't people trying to age Keemun for decades like pu'er, just enough to develop the new flavor while there was still some of the original flavor left. Also as the name implies, not all rancid flavors are pleasant, so this kind of waiting is not always a good idea.

3. The oolong is being preserved rather than aged. Usually this happens through re-roasting, and is something that developed in humid places like Hong Kong where the tea supply was not always reliable for various reasons, so it was important to find ways to coax extra life out of teas that did not do well in that kind of weather. However, a tea can only be re-roasted so many times before all it tastes like is roast.

4. The oolong was not given a proper kill-green. Sometimes this happens out of carelessness, but other times it is intentional due to a certain short-term advantages. Without a proper kill-green, it falls into the same category as "dry-stored" pu'er and old white tea, in that there may be enough enzymatic reaction left to cause it to do something unexpected.
Last edited by mbanu on Fri Jan 21, 2022 8:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Bok
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Fri Jan 21, 2022 8:48 pm

Stevelaughs wrote:
Fri Jan 21, 2022 7:48 pm
I've heard that it's theoretically impossible to age oolong as the enzymatic activity is, or should be, nil.
Practically, there is plenty of very drinkable evidence that it is indeed quite possible :lol:
Who said that, or who wrote it? Never heard anyone make such an uninformed claim... obviously not someone who is well versed in sourcing or drinking tea.

Stevelaughs wrote:
Fri Jan 21, 2022 7:48 pm
essentially decaying after a certain point.
Any and all organic things will decay at some point.
Andrew S
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Fri Jan 21, 2022 11:02 pm

Stevelaughs wrote:
Fri Jan 21, 2022 7:48 pm
I really want to learn more about aging oolong. It's interesting that you say your shui xian was "getting pretty tired." I've heard that it's theoretically impossible to age oolong as the enzymatic activity is, or should be, nil. So the tea is essentially decaying after a certain point.

I recently bought a 2013 Ma Tou Yan Shui Xian from Red Blossom... I need to try it again, but my first impression was that it really lacked the freshness and vibrancy I seek even in a heavily roasted oolong.
I'm currently drinking some yancha from the late 1990s which definitely disproves whoever told you that wulong can't age.

Ageing wulong is also something that I'd like to learn more about. It seems to be a topic that is neglected, at least relative to how much people talk about ageing puer. It feels like some tea drinkers store yancha and similar things for their own consumption, but don't really talk much about it.

Perhaps there's just not that much to talk about. Hide some nice tea somewhere, forget about it, and try it again in a decade or two. There's probably additional things that people in humid climates would need to do or look out for, but that's not much of a problem for me.

You probably shouldn't draw too many conclusions from a single example of an aged tea. I suppose that it is fair to assume that an aged tea will no longer taste 'fresh', but that's not to say that it should taste stale or tired. It would all depend on the ageing conditions and the tea itself.

In my very limited experience, it feels like a few years can make the tea a bit more precise and focussed, as well as letting the roast integrate better with the flavour, and changing the overall flavour profile. There's a lovely fruitiness that can come with a bit of age, and time changes the way that the tea 'feels' for me.

I had a small amount of a fairly lightly-roasted bai ji guan which I left around for a decade; more or less accidentally. It felt comfortable and relaxing, with an elegant fruitiness and a deeper flavour than I expect it would have had when it was fresh. Of course, if you enjoy bright and fresh flavours, then you might simply prefer to have that kind of tea when it is young.

I'm curious to learn more about the Asian market for aged yancha and similar things, and whether there are businesses that are stockpiling large quantities of tea for the purpose of ageing it.

Andrew
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Bok
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Fri Jan 21, 2022 11:21 pm

Andrew S wrote:
Fri Jan 21, 2022 11:02 pm
It seems to be a topic that is neglected, at least relative to how much people talk about ageing puer. It feels like some tea drinkers store yancha and similar things for their own consumption, but don't really talk much about it.
I think there is also less talk about it in Western circles, as getting good aged oolong is a rich man's hobby in Asia. Finding nicely aged Oolong is not easy and the few really good ones that pop up are usually very expensive locally already. So the average Westerner might get easily get the impression that aged Oolong is not much to write home about and not even try to think to age by themselves... simple lack of exposure and attached experience. The affordable ones I see on offer by some, can not really be good tea if I make the math and compare with local retail pricing. It must be either low quality aged tea or fake aged.

On the plus side there is less market speculation going on as opposed to Puerh.
DailyTX
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Sat Jan 22, 2022 12:05 am

Bok wrote:
Fri Jan 21, 2022 11:21 pm
Andrew S wrote:
Fri Jan 21, 2022 11:02 pm
It seems to be a topic that is neglected, at least relative to how much people talk about ageing puer. It feels like some tea drinkers store yancha and similar things for their own consumption, but don't really talk much about it.
I think there is also less talk about it in Western circles, as getting good aged oolong is a rich man's hobby in Asia. Finding nicely aged Oolong is not easy and the few really good ones that pop up are usually very expensive locally already. So the average Westerner might get easily get the impression that aged Oolong is not much to write home about and not even try to think to age by themselves... simple lack of exposure and attached experience. The affordable ones I see on offer by some, can not really be good tea if I make the math and compare with local retail pricing. It must be either low quality aged tea or fake aged.

On the plus side there is less market speculation going on as opposed to Puerh.
@Bok do you know if aged Oolong needs to be waken by re-roasting like those highly roasted aged anxi TieGuanYin?
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Bok
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Sat Jan 22, 2022 12:28 am

DailyTX wrote:
Sat Jan 22, 2022 12:05 am
Bok do you know if aged Oolong needs to be waken by re-roasting like those highly roasted aged anxi TieGuanYin?
Depends. I have had teas that were very old and have never been refreshed, other have been. Even had one that still had a yellowish liquid after a decade, but full of flavour... proper oxidation is often more important than the roast. Many roads lead to ... <fill in>
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teatray
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Sat Jan 22, 2022 7:51 am

Sazen's Dong Ding Ying Xiang. I have zero experience with Taiwan oolongs (not much really with Chinese, either). Added some on a whim to my recent order from this perhaps unlikely source. Reminds me of a fresh, sweet, creamy, spicy Thai soup with coconut, lemongrass, ginger, etc. Woke up craving it today and made some grandpa style, what a treat! Teapot suits it even better (though I found I prefer longer steeping than the seller's suggestion of 30s, something like 120s for the same leaf ratio of 3g/100ml). Up until now, I thought green oolongs maybe smelled kinda nice but tasted bland (though to be fair I guess I got what I paid for). This is a whole different world to discover (any beginner suggestions greatly appreciated).
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harrison1986
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Sat Jan 22, 2022 9:40 am

Currently drinking a very nice Winter 2021 "Sweet Scent" Dong Ding, Chen Kuan Lin
from Tillerman.

This tea has a mild but very nice sweet flavor that usually lasts 2 to 3 cups. It has a very nice, mild sweet scent after brewing. The whole experience of drinking this tea is enjoyable.

I never have to worry about being given a complete dud from Tillerman. This is an extremely affordable tea as well, $44 for 250 grams! Thank you @Tillerman, after ordering tea tasting like water from Taiwan Tea Crafts, I would have been left with no tea to drink if it weren't for your tea here, so this one really saved me.
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DailyTX
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Sat Jan 22, 2022 12:03 pm

All those talks about Oolong got me craving for some. This TieGuanYin was a gift to my parents in 2007 without any information. It was sitting in my parent's pantry for over 10 years. I opened about 3-4 years ago, and it has been stored in my fridge with a zip lock bag. The fragrant of TieGuanYin is still there, the color looks like a young sheng, no roasting taste or grassy taste. I decided to go with all porcelain teaware today, and all blue and white. Cheers!
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