We are thrilled to be able to offer this delicious tea. It has been stored at the tea farm where it was made in 1986, and it has been re-roasted every 5 years or so by the tea master. The tea was re-roasted in the fall of 2012 before being sold to us.
The miracle of aging ( for tea, wine, cheese, cognac, scotch and perhaps humans, too ) is this: the right tea, properly made and kept under the right set of storage conditions, will develop its taste into something quite stunning with well-rounded flavor nuances. The rough edges of youthful, just-made-tea disappear and the fresh vitality of newly made tea is replaced by qualities that are mature, smooth and elegant.
However, aged tea is not the same as old tea that might be hiding in the back of your pantry. Or old tea that someone stashed away and forgot, only to be newly re- discovered in a cleaning frenzy. Old tea is just that, without much distinction or good taste to offer.
Aged teas are something else all together and command a higher price than younger teas made from the same leaf. Here’s why -
1. the tea has been taken ‘out of’ the marketplace so to speak for many years, and any food product that has been set aside to age is costing the producer money while it sits.
2. aged teas require careful attention while they age. It is not a matter of sticking a container of tea in any old dusty corner and forgetting about it – the tea requires good temperature conditions and adequate ventilation to develop while keeping well. And someone knowledgable to bring the tea along with proper re-roasting.
There is an active market in private reserve teas, or teas that have been cellared and kept by someone who knows what they are doing. Generally teas that have been stored longer than 10 years are considered ‘aged’ but aged teas become even more desireable when they are 15, 20, 25, 30 years of age or older.
Our 1986 Tung Ting has been given a medium-heavy roast, which is a traditional roast style and one that is considered ‘old-man’ tea – the dark and charcoal roasted style of oolongs that were drunk in the past. Today, greener, fresher-tasting semiball-rolled oolongs are finding a new market with a wide tea drinking audience. But for the older generation of Chinese tea drinkers, this tea has the taste they like.
This tea has matured but is also bold and energetic. The leaf is a lovely warm brown color accentuated with an undercoat of dark, forest green. The size of the leaf is uniform and medium in size. In the container and in the cup the aroma is toasty and earthy. The tea liquor is clear and bright and golden-orange in color.
The flavor has notes of roasted barley, dark caramel, cooked mushrooms, cacao nibs and the subtle suggestion of roasted apricots and other stone fruits that is more a fleeting memory of a taste from its younger days than an actual taste. The aromatics also have notes of roasted barley, a bit of raisin and plum, and the distinctive sweet aroma of bamboo from the woven bamboo baskets that are used to fire the tea over a low ember fire.
This tea can be steeped 8-10 times depending on the ratio of leaf to water. The flavor stays quite consistent throughout the steepings, and in fact the flavor reveals its more subtle tastes as the charcoal flavor diminishes during the latter steepings.
Don’t miss this tea !
Our small portion of this tea is a convenient 10-gram packet.
This 10-gram packet will yield approximately 60-80 ounces of tea when re-steeped over the course of several infusions, whether you steep it Asian-style or Western-style.
This is how the math works:
When steeping oolong Asian-style, you want to use a small teapot or gaiwan with a capacity of 10-12 ounces. Use the entire 10-gram packet of one of our gao shans and 10 ounces of water per steeping. After decanting the tea liquor, you will be able to then add an additional 10 ounces of water to the same leaf, and repeat these steps up to 6 to 8 times. This will yield a total of 60-80 ounces of steeped tea – maybe more!
When steeping gao shan Western-style, you want to use a standard 32 ounce teapot. Use the entire 10-gram packet of one of our gao shans and a full quantity of water per steeping. After decanting the tea liquor, you will be able to then add an additional full quantity of water to the same leaf, and repeat these steps 2-3 times. This will yield a total of 60-80 ounces of steeped tea – maybe more!
Oolongs are traditionally ‘rinsed’ before being steeped.
This is done with a quick application of hot water that is poured over the tea in the gaiwan or teapot and then immediately discarded.
The rinse water is not drunk – its purpose is to help the leaves begin to open during steeping.
Use additional appropriately-heated water for the 1st steeping and subsequent re-steepings.