Aging oolong? How to do it?

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Rickpatbrown
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Sun Sep 13, 2020 11:40 pm

pedant wrote:
Sun Sep 13, 2020 11:08 pm
ok, i have to ask..

does anyone have any anecdotal evidence about tea stored in aluminized mylar bags (or similar) long term? because that's how most of my oolong tea is being "aged" right now. some has 5 years or more on it.

i'm guilty of buying tea and just letting it sit unopened. some of it has desiccant packets. some even has O2 scavenger. but let's just consider the case of tea being sealed in a bag without extra preservation devices.

does anyone know for sure that this is going to give a bad result?

was it common to store bulk tea sealed in bags like that 30 years ago?
This is exactly my question!
How long has the industry been vacuum sealing with desiccant in mylar?
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Bok
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Sun Sep 13, 2020 11:41 pm

pedant wrote:
Sun Sep 13, 2020 11:08 pm
ok, i have to ask..

does anyone have any anecdotal evidence about tea stored in aluminized mylar bags (or similar) long term? because that's how most of my oolong tea is being "aged" right now. some has 5 years or more on it.

i'm guilty of buying tea and just letting it sit unopened. some of it has desiccant packets. some even has O2 scavenger. but let's just consider the case of tea being sealed in a bag without extra preservation devices.

does anyone know for sure that this is going to give a bad result?

was it common to store bulk tea sealed in bags like that 30 years ago?
At my friends house we regularly drink aged Baozhong and others in their original 300 or 600gbags. You can tell by the out dated design. It tastes pretty decent... more common would be larger metal containers which are the usual mass storage items but even in those the tea is usually in a large plastic bag.
mbanu
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Mon Sep 14, 2020 12:07 am

In the export tea industry, larger versions of those bags have been around since 1974, although I don't know if or when Taiwan adopted this practice. For tea history fans, there is actually a first-hand account of the change in Barry W. Cooper's memoir, "Silver Spoons, Mad Baboons, and Other Tales of Tea", as he was partially responsible for the change while working at Lipton during the 70s. The cost of the traditional wooden tea-chests with foil lining had been slowly going up, and to compensate the quality had slowly been going down, to the point that by the 70s they were not doing a very good job at their original purpose, and there was a lot of breakage during shipping, leading Lipton to look for an alternative that was around the same price but that could actually do the job required.
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Bok
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Mon Sep 14, 2020 12:25 am

mbanu wrote:
Mon Sep 14, 2020 12:07 am
although I don't know if or when Taiwan adopted this practice.
I have seen two basic versions: heavy duty thick transparent plastic bags and a large version of what is used for standard retail vacuum packs.
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StoneLadle
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Mon Sep 14, 2020 12:38 am

I found several unintentionally aged oolongs in my family home a couple of weeks ago while ransacking a room looking for porcelain.

One:... is a Dong Ding, 600g in a gift box, the tea in its original plastic package. The tea was probably bought in the mid 90s in Taipei, maybe at the airport my mother says but she can't be sure. . Drinks well and has now attained Family Treasure status. I may move it to a gold container vessel while maintaining the original plastic as it may have residual enzymes that will encourage further aging and development.

Two:... Is a big sealed plastic bag of WuYi tea, with a handwritten scribble in my father's hand that says "Fo Shou, 600g". This was also bought in the 90s with some other bits and pieces in the same shopping bag, from Xiamen, China. This bad boy is plummy, with Christmas cake notes all over it and a well integrated smokiness and kamness. I have transferred the bag into its own cannister selected from a variety of old cracker biscuit tins to thwart raiders and increase my chances of forgetting about this again for another decade or so .. have reserved 100g for indulgence purposes, kept in a porcelain snuff pot...

Three... Now this one I found in a traditional one catty, 600g caddy. Looks like oolong but smells of nothing... Bit of plastic in there, but about 300g worth of tea leaves... Brews up like magic... Dusty aged taste, traces of smoke and sweetness, velvety smoothness and loads of mouth coating power... I've since buried this without GPS tag

The rest were just shit, flat, brown water, stuff in loose bags of plastic or paper, but some loose leaf Pu made it thru good but that's another section of the forum I guess...

The thing in common with the good ones were that they were all sealed in original packaging, or kept in a caddy, in a regular cupboard.

Here in KL, Malaysia there are plenty of tea shops with venerable histories that have old inventory stashed away just because and some do sell it, often at better prices than the crazy new stuff... But no one seems to want to talk about it much neither, so go figure...

And don't get me started on aged Dancong... A five year old caddy aged example in an old shop that I tasted last weekend was dusty, plummy and jammy and lifting all at once! ....

But overall, I think well processed Shui Xian does well over time and there are loads and loads of old cans of this stuff available, sealed, unopened... I counted 6 crates of the stuff going back 20 years in one store last Saturday...
carogust
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Mon Sep 14, 2020 8:00 am

@StoneLadle Very enlightening information!

And the improper kill-green/enzyme theory is very interesting, I've not heard it before.
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StoneLadle
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Mon Sep 14, 2020 10:51 am

To echo @Bok from earlier, most of the aged oolong that I've seen in shops are kept in storage tins with or without plastic. When asked, the most often received answer is keep them dry and sealed and not too warm.

Even the individual packed teas sold by many oolong specialists (especially Mainland ones, or Mainland influenced) in 7-10g vacuum packs seem to age nicely.

The trick here is to recognise the pleasant changes occur in well aged oolongs and determine what works for you.

I've been obsessed with this for weeks since digging up them Dongdings and it's been quite a fruitful adventure!

@carogust the storage itself seems quite straightforward when compared to the venerable PuErh , very simple, very non interventional. Seniors sometimes keep their oolongs in porcelain, but mostly stashed simply but carefully.
Chadrinkincat
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Mon Sep 14, 2020 4:45 pm

Bok wrote:
Sun Sep 13, 2020 10:14 pm
Chadrinkincat wrote:
Sun Sep 13, 2020 10:11 pm
Bok wrote:
Sun Sep 13, 2020 7:27 pm
A lot of what is sold as aged Oolong in Taiwan is exactly as mbanu said, not intentional, forgotten and often subpar, thus unsold tea.
I’d rather consume a subpar 20-30yr old oolong than a subpar newly made one.
Not sure about that... we frequently sample some mystery aged teas and they can be quite unpleasant. I distinctly remember one with hints a what would normally be described as dish washing liquid smell... a lot of of old teas are also blends of leftover teas thrown together.
Sub par in terms of quality of material.
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StoneLadle
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Mon Sep 14, 2020 9:22 pm

@Chadrinkincat how do you define par and sub par oolongs?
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Baisao
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Fri Sep 18, 2020 11:19 pm

Bok wrote:
Mon Sep 14, 2020 12:25 am
mbanu wrote:
Mon Sep 14, 2020 12:07 am
although I don't know if or when Taiwan adopted this practice.
I have seen two basic versions: heavy duty thick transparent plastic bags and a large version of what is used for standard retail vacuum packs.
This aligns with what my other peeps in Taiwan say. I got a jin of multi-decade old dong ding that had been stored in a large plastic bag, haphazardly stored. It’s delicious.

The shop owner claimed it was from 1981 and I refer to it as that but it could just as well be 1991. I trust the tea more than the sellers. It’s rolled traditionally: loose with the petiole making a kind of tail.

I’ve also had a Taiwanese ersatz yancha from the 70s that was a slice of heaven.

I’ve had baozhong from the 60s and a 70s low oxidized oolong pressed into a taocha. Both were awful and not just from rancid flavors.

It seems that oolong with high oxidation and/or roasting age better. Hong shui, yancha, Taiwanese ersatz yancha, have all (for the most part) aged very well in my experience.

I got interested in aging tea and seeking aged oolong after a da hong pao I had stored with a cloak of nitrogen for 12 years was tremendously improved.

I’ve put away dongfang meiren in plastic caddies with a nitrogen cloak and it was delicious up to 7 years.

It seems that yancha (and probably other oolongs) have a period of years where they have growing pains but improve afterwards.

Even though some of these exceptional teas aged well without care, I store most of them in large amber glass jars with desiccant.
faj
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Sat Sep 19, 2020 6:42 am

Baisao wrote:
Fri Sep 18, 2020 11:19 pm
I got interested in aging tea and seeking aged oolong after a da hong pao I had stored with a cloak of nitrogen for 12 years was tremendously improved.

I’ve put away dongfang meiren in plastic caddies with a nitrogen cloak and it was delicious up to 7 years.
You mention using nitrogen for storage. Were these teas received from the vendor in nitro-flushed packaging, or are you equipped to do that yourself?
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Baisao
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Sat Sep 19, 2020 1:25 pm

faj wrote:
Sat Sep 19, 2020 6:42 am
Baisao wrote:
Fri Sep 18, 2020 11:19 pm
I got interested in aging tea and seeking aged oolong after a da hong pao I had stored with a cloak of nitrogen for 12 years was tremendously improved.

I’ve put away dongfang meiren in plastic caddies with a nitrogen cloak and it was delicious up to 7 years.
You mention using nitrogen for storage. Were these teas received from the vendor in nitro-flushed packaging, or are you equipped to do that yourself?
I use a product intended for preserving wine called Private Preserve. It’s a bottle of compressed nitrogen (and C02, I think) with a long straw. I fill amber glass bottles with it and cap them. I tried oxysorbs but they get used up fast if you are in and out of bottles like I am.

There are similar products sold to fine woodworkers to keep their finishes from forming a skin during storage.
faj
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Sat Sep 19, 2020 1:34 pm

Baisao wrote:
Sat Sep 19, 2020 1:25 pm
I use a product intended for preserving wine called Private Preserve. It’s a bottle of compressed nitrogen (and C02, I think) with a long straw. I fill amber glass bottles with it and cap them. I tried oxysorbs but they get used up fast if you are in and out of bottles like I am.
Interesting. Do you re-fill the bottle with inert gas every time you access it?
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Baisao
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Sat Sep 19, 2020 1:39 pm

faj wrote:
Sat Sep 19, 2020 1:34 pm
Baisao wrote:
Sat Sep 19, 2020 1:25 pm
I use a product intended for preserving wine called Private Preserve. It’s a bottle of compressed nitrogen (and C02, I think) with a long straw. I fill amber glass bottles with it and cap them. I tried oxysorbs but they get used up fast if you are in and out of bottles like I am.
Interesting. Do you re-fill the bottle with inert gas every time you access it?
I do. I like that the straw can easily go to the bottom of the jar and flush out air mixed in the tea. I also use it for sencha in Mylar zipper bags. The sencha keeps noticeably longer this way when compared to not using it.
faj
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Sat Sep 19, 2020 1:57 pm

Baisao wrote:
Sat Sep 19, 2020 1:39 pm
I do. I like that the straw can easily go to the bottom of the jar and flush out air mixed in the tea. I also use it for sencha in Mylar zipper bags. The sencha keeps noticeably longer this way when compared to not using it.
Interesting. Do you use that systematically for all your teas, or only the more fragile ones and those you want to age?
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