These dry leaves are 33 years old Fuding white tea from Fujian, China. It's interesting to see that they include some very mature and thick leaves, and not just buds. They also have different colors and don't look greyish, but almost shiny, which points to a good dry storage.
Brewing this tea on my 'Between winter and spring' Chaxi was the subject of Teaparker's tea lesson last week.
As we are waiting for the new Oolong harvests, it's interesting to taste old teas and see how they are aging. In Taiwan, we are most familiar with aged Oolong and puerh, teas that can be kept for decades if the leaf quality and storage conditions are right.
This is the oldest white tea we have ever brewed. And as I'm writing this article, I'm drinking my 1979 Dong Ding Oolong (37 years old) for comparison.
The aged white tea has a wonderful orange color (lighter than the 1979 Dong Ding). The dry leaves had old wood scents, but the tea itself tasted more fruity, pure, warm and mellow. And relaxing, too. The 1979 Oolong is darker and I feel that it packs more energy, thickness and darker notes in the brew.
The long term storage potential of roasted Oolong is well documented, but it was a pleasant surprise to see how 33 years have refined this white tea! Its storage potential may not be as spectacular as Oolong, but it was a very pleasant and warming tea experience.
This tea class was also interesting, because we, the students, brewed the same leaves one after another. And even though we went through years of Teaparker's same teachings , we all brew a little bit differently and this is enough to cause noticeable variations of taste between our cups! When a student looks relaxed and peaceful when pouring the water, the tea often tastes smoother than when the student is tense or absent-minded.
Except tea, only wine and strong liquors are able to be aged for decades. It's a special pleasure to be able to drink from leaves that are almost as old as oneself! But only if the quality can match the age and if the tea still feels alive...
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.