It’s often said about many wines that they are drunk too young. Can the same be true for tea? I’ve addressed the topic of ageing tea here and here but another interesting element is letting tea ‘rest’ for a while after it’s produced. Freshly bottled wine is often ‘bottle-sick’, meaning the aromas are shut and the wine isn’t expressive. It should rest for a few months. The same goes for tea.
I feel similar about some teas, especially the serious puer and oolong types that are meant to age. So this week I’ll be having a look at the handsome reserve of 2010s Taiwanese oolongs I purchased a year ago from Teamasters. These teas are delicious upon release but I’ve always felt they develop more complexity over six months or so.
Today’s 2010 spring oolong comes from Alishan, a high mountain terroir at 1400m. The cultivar is qingxin (Teamasters also offer a version made from the jinxuan variety). Picked on 27th March this is a very early ‘primeur’ style of oolong. With no roasting and little oxidation, this tea focused on freshness. Freshness actually is an understatement: this tea is stunningly pure. The first impression on attack is almost that of high mountain spring water.
But there is also excellent aromatic complexity here. Floral at will, I would say this tea almost smells of jasmine in the first couple of brews. Another testimony to its excellence is the patience. The large leaves are very slow to open and the first five or six infusions can be kept to a few seconds each. At 48€/100g this is fairly priced for the emotion it delivers, and costs about the same as its wine equivalent: a premier cru Puligny-Montrachet.
15g of this tea was a sample courtesy of Teamasters with my large order of other 2010 teas.