|Biluochun harvest in SanHsia|
First, we have to recognize that fresh Oolong is different from green tea. Oolong is a mix of mature leaves and buds. It's easier to dry these mature leaves, especially when they are rolled around the bud. This shape provides a good protection for the bud and less contact with the air's oxygen. Therefore, Oolong has a much better potential to retain freshness than green tea.
Third, the right process is key to preserving the freshness. So far, we have only examined the aging "potential" of the leaves. To transform this potential into a reality, the key is skillful drying of the leaves.
|Brewing High Mountain Oolong|
A spring 2013 High Mountain Oolong that doesn't feel fresh in spring 2014 is a sign that the farmer didn't finish the proper drying of the tea leaves. But why wouldn't he dry the Oolong leaves well? It's a question of time. Drying the leaves takes attention and heat and time. All this is money. It's a also about skill. High mountain leaves are valuable and if the drying is too strong or too quick, the leaves may get burned and loose their lightest aromas.
And finally, at first, the leaves smell fresher without this drying. So, if an uneducated customer smells/tastes 2 Oolongs, he will find that the well dried Oolong smells/tastes less fresh and looks less green than the Oolong that hasn't been well dried. This explains the trend for very green Oolongs and why the sellers often keep them in freezers! And thus, the consumer is likely to pick the wrong leaves...
|Spring 2013 Lishan Oolong in March 2014|