It’s such an experience drinking a tea that’s so old. The aroma of the wet leaves was like a delicious piece of fresh toast. The first infusion was somewhat flowery and fruity, but a little light; I think that it just needed a longer time as I had only infused it for 1.5 minutes. The second cup, though, (at 2 minutes) was outstanding: floral and sweet, but with deep roasted tones. It reminded me of a full-bodied peach. The sweetness did not linger, but was replaced by a not-unpleasant chalky texture on the front of the tongue that lasted for some time. The third infusion had a little more sweetness and a little less body, and the roasted undertone became more subdued. By the fourth, the interesting chalky texture had gone and the flavor really began to remind me of a pleasant unroasted Tung Ting or a Tie Guan Yin. A fascinating tea.
1980 Aged Tung Ting
Until the mid-1980s, Taiwan oolong teas were rolled by hand in small canvas bundles. Hand rolling produced tea clusters that were looser than what is created using modern machine rolling methods. These looser clusters required firing at higher temperatures for optimal preservation, which in turn produced a richer, more robust tea.
Our Aged Tung Ting is a true rarity surviving from this earlier era of tea making in Taiwan. We acquired this tea from a grower who had had the tea in his family’s possession for nearly three decades. During that time, it was lightly roasted every two to three years to remove moisture from the tea. Before the tea was shipped to San Francisco, we had it charcoal roasted using longan fruit wood, a finishing techinque also very traditional to formosa tea making.
Over time, the tea’s color has darkened and its flavor mellowed to a pleasing combination of candied plum and cocoa with rich, roasted aromatics .