Next week will mark the beginning of the Lunar New Year of the Dragon. Taiwan (and China) will have a whole week of holiday! (So, I won't be able to process your orders during that time.) In the middle of winter, we'll be celebrating the arrival of spring, happiness and fortune.
One way to do this is with a very special tea. I've heard lots of Taiwanese tea lovers, farmers or tea sellers tell me that they keep a unique tea in a jar and that they only open it once a year during Chinese New Year. Depending on their preference, it can be puerh, Baozhong, Wu Yi Yan Cha, Oriental Beauty or Hung Shui Oolong...
There are 2 characteristics that set these old Oolongs apart from the old Oolongs that can be found in stores on the island: the high quality of the leaves and a roasting that has faded away. In stores, what we find are mostly left overs, unsold leaves that probably were just average ; and they were roasted frequently, often too much. An collector's aged Oolong, on the other hand, was chosen for its concentration of flavors, how well it was crafted and aging potential. Once stored in a jar, it doesn't have to be roasted again and won't.
A tea lover's aged Oolongs retains several essential qualities:
- Purity: the leaves are all from the same batch and they have been stored in a clean place,
- Freshness: the leaves keep their elasticity and become green again as they unfold. Most importantly, the tea still has a 'green', fresh taste in the aftertaste.
- Mellow: the tea feels light, sweet and well balanced.
On top of that, aged Oolongs develop extraordinary fine aromas and deep fragrances (wood, incense, raspberry...) that we don't find in young teas. And they connect the present with the past with such grace and energy!
My recommendation is to start to age your own Oolong as early as possible!
My name is Stéphane Erler. I live in Taiwan since 1996 and have been studying tea with Teaparker. He's a worldwide tea expert and author of over 30 tea books. The study of tea isn't just theoretical, but it's also rooted in daily practice. It's a path of continuous improvement. As my brewing technique improves I get access to better teas and better accessories. These things go hand in hand. My blog documents my learning since 2004. And I have set up an online tea boutique with my selection of top quality teas, accessories and tea culture.