Discover the World of Aged / Vintage Chinese Tea

Discover the World of Aged / Vintage Chinese Tea

At the first time I tasted an aged-tea, I was stunned by the complexity, depth, balance between aroma and flavour of the tea. I could still taste the liveliness of the tea leaves, earthy but not astringent or grassy. The tea was an 18 years old Sheng Puerh.

Sheng (Raw) Puerh and Shou (Ripe) Puerh

Young Sheng Puerh could be too astringent to taste and some people (myself included) find its nature too cooling, too harsh for the stomach. The taste of the Shou Puerh offered in the Chinese restaurants usually lacks character, sometimes even flavour. 

Natural Oxidisation and Fermentation

In the 70s, only Sheng Puerh was produced by tea companies. The tea is not intended to be drank when fresh, its nature is quite cooling and tastes astringent.  People store the tea for at least 10-15 years to let it transform, oxidise and ferment naturally.

Artificial Fermentation

In 1973, some tea companies started producing Shou Puerh by adding a post-fermentation process (piling). Shou Puerh has gone through a full fermentation process, it is no longer cooling with astringency and can be enjoyed as soon as it is made. Note that we usually wait for a year to avoid any unpleasant flavours from the piling. Nowadays, some Shou Puerh can also be aged to transform further and become richer, fuller and more complex.   

Aging of White Tea and Other Teas

Apart from Puerh, White tea, Black tea, or even some Oolong teas can age beautifully with appropriate storage. Especially for White tea, the nature of the tea can be transformed from cooling to gentle and nourishing, the taste becomes mellow with growing complexity. There is a Chinese saying on White tea: "1 year she becomes tea, 3 years becomes medicine, 7 years becomes treasure". 

However, not all tea can be aged, Green tea is made with young leaves with high moisture content. If we age green tea, the tea might taste awkward before it begins to oxidize and mature. Green tea is best to drink within a year or so, especially the Japanese ones. But with air-tight storage, many Green tea can last for a lot longer now.  

Prestigious Vintage Tea 

In the past, when talking about aged / vintage tea, people usually associate with the Sheng Puerh cakes sold for tens of thousands of dollars in auctions. Nowadays, you can find some good quality aged loose leaf teas with good storage at an affordable price. Just make sure you are purchasing from a reliable store and do not hesitate to ask where the teas were aged, whether they are best to drink now or to age further. 

Aged/vintage teas are more patience, you can enjoy many rounds of steeping and they are wonderful for tea practice or to be enjoyed and shared with your loved ones. You may check out the collection of Aged Tea / Vintage Tea here

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