Aged Oolong Tea Information
Production: 10-20% oxidization. Light Green Oolong aged with a light/medium roast, then re-roasted every 2-3 years to minimize moisture content
Aged Oolong refers to Oolong tea that has been stored for at least 3 years. Aged Oolong tea generally has a full body, rich and well rounded taste. See this T Ching article for more information on aged oolong.
Aged Oolong teas are usually exceptionally rich in antioxidant polyphenols and a lower caffeine content than regular tea. The natural aging process takes about three years, during which the tea loses its fresh look and flavor. After this, the color of the leaf starts to turns from green to brown and the maturing, or aging, process is underway. Aged tea experts suggest six-eight years as an ideal minimum for aged Oolong tea to be mature. Of course, if the tea continues to be stored properly, it will further mature and improve with age. Fifteen to twenty year aged Oolongs are best.
Older aged Oolong (20 or more years old) were usually roasted (and often re-roasted) using the traditional charcoal methods. They were usually from Dayeh (large leaf) tea strains and grown organically, or in a pesticide-free environment. More recent, balled-rolled, aged Oolongs are Dong Ding-processed teas harvested from Jinxuan or Four Seasons tea strains.
Most Oolongs being prepared for storage are roasted to a degree initially to determine the acceptable moisture content level to start the storing process. The stored tea is then usually taken out and inspected every two-three years and carefully re-roasted to remove excess moisture and retain flavors. Storage is usually in large earthenware or stone containers.
For those who haven’t experienced aged Oolongs, they usually have a unique and complex taste, which is often very smooth, mellow, and pleasantly sweet – not usually as rich or earthy as many pu erh teas. The level of “Cha Qi” in aged Oolongs is often expressed by Chinese and Taiwanese as being more noticeably present than in regular fresh Oolongs.
Aged Oolong demand is increasing significantly in the local Chinese markets, and as the international community continues to explore and experience more varieties of teas, there will likely be an increasing demand there as well.