Here are a few questions from a dear customer recently, I thought I had written related topic since it is some of the more frequently asked questions, but I couldn't find it in my blog, it must be in the emails. I should have this written down for good. Here we go.
***How do single tree dancongs like your private stash develop with time?
More specifically, is it preferable to let them rest for some time after the harvest and processing to harmonize and develop? If so, how long after the harvest are they usually at the peak, and when do they start to fade and lose aromas you want to keep?
There are several elements determines the taste of tea in time: tea substance, fire, storage. What this means is when is the best time to start drinking a tea, any tea that is. Most of us like to buy fresh teas in general, what's left over the year is considered expired psychologically, even though aged tea drinkers would consider buy a selected few type such as puerh and a few aged oolongs. While taste is a personal preference, I am here to talk about my own preference of when is my preferred time to drink a tea.
1, Substance of tea is the fundamental, fiber and chemical substance ratio determines how long it will take a tea to break down, more fiber the longer it will take, more matured old leaves the longer it will take.
2, In general, all teas are processed through fire more or less. Green tea, white tea, yellow teas endure less firing process than oolong, lower temperature and lesser time on fire. Higher temperature fire takes longer to subside.
3,Storage condition of tea is crucial at the final step, aside of sealed, keep away from light, odor and moisture, storing temperature should be considered in storing the type of tea.
Nothing is absolute especially in tea, all parameters are forever changing along time, a combination of situation presents here:
Green tea, despite the common belief it should be drunk within 3 month from harvest, unless you are a young man with stomach of steel, go ahead. The freshness also contains fresh fire, the fresh polyphenols can be harsh on the stomach, it is much better to drink it 9 months to a year later stored in freezer or refrigerated, minimum 6 months in the fridge. This also applies to green oolongs, particularly Tie Guan Yin and Taiwan high mountain teas. Freezing is necessary for teas with high moisture contents.
For medium and up roasted oolong teas, white tea, black teas, also takes 9 months to a year for the fire to subside, especially the high fired teas such as dark roasted dan cong and wuyi rock teas, some heavy fired teas takes up to 2 years for the fire taste to subside. While the fire disapates, the substance of the tea goes through a break down, enzymatic oxidation, blending with each other process, polyphenols turn in to Cha Huang Su theaflavin which benefit our health in many ways. Due to the long time and or high fire process of these teas, moisture content is less in general, hence cool dark seal is all it takes to preserve them, even for a long period of time. How long can this be kept depends on the aroma, if you prefer fragrance aroma, the preservation under the best condition should withhold 3 years, at most 5. 5 years late, the aroma will subside as the substance changes into Cha He Su- theabrownine.
Dan cong tea, old tree teas in specific, due to the rich amount of substance, after a year of post development, the taste and texture is much fuller, dan cong teas are known for the floral fruity aroma, recommended to finish drinking within 3 years, however if sealed, it can be put away then forgotten 20, 30 or more years, it will become another amazing tea.
To sum it all, all teas come from a plant, they all share similar properties, fire does the exact same thing to teas, the result differentiates by the content of the tea, which in turn determines how long it takes to oxidize and break down. Depending on the fermentation, lighter greener teas needs refrigeration, high moisture contents requires freezing.
Puerh tea is a different animal, but similar, we will skip it this time.