Popular Post abcdefg Posted November 8, 2016 at 03:32 PM Popular Post Report Share Posted November 8, 2016 at 03:32 PM Had a hankering for green tea this weekend, here in Texas, and brewed some that I had on hand. It was a Yunnan Maofeng 云南毛峰 purchased in Kunming early last Spring. Brought it over in my suitcase last month. Delicate and fresh-tasting originally, but what a sad disappointment it was now. Barely recognizable and very different from the prime leaf I enjoyed so often in earlier parts of this year, all through the summer and well into early fall. You may remember how I raved about it at the beginning of April: http://www.chinese-forums.com/index.php?/topic/51305-springtime-in-a-glass-yunnan-maofeng-tea-%E4%BA%91%E5%8D%97%E6%AF%9B%E5%B3%B0%E8%8C%B6/ Thought it would be instructive to give you an update on it now. Looks about the same as it used to, but has minimal aroma and minimal flavor. Pale gold green color. Here's a closer look at the leaves after brewing. Note the fine structure: most complexes are one bud and only one leaf, carefully picked during the very earliest part of spring, right after the tea bush "wakes up" from its winter nap and is bursting with new vigor and sap. Here's what it looked like beforehand: To my eye, the appearance has not really changed. But the aroma is less forward after being brewed than it once was, and most notably the flavor is flat, slightly muddy and definitely weak. What to do? Not sure. I know the shelf life of green tea can be short, particularly true for the more delicate varieties. Before tossing it out I did an informal experiment: 1. Doubled the amount of dry leaf. This gave the liquor more color, but didn't help the taste, though it did make it less weak and insipid. Did not restore its previous "wow element." 2. Doubled the brewing time. This made it a little bit astringent, though the liquor was still completely uninteresting. 3. Used hotter water. A light green tea such as this typically requires water that's well under boiling for best results: high 80's to low 90's Celsius. This time I used it fresh from the flame, still close to 100 degrees. But hotter water didn't help either. Not when using normal amount of leaf or double; didn't help when using normal brewing time or double. Conclusion: This tea is finished, dead and defunct. Need to toss it out and buy some more in late March when I'm back in its province of origin. Some teas just have a quick peak and a short optimum drinking span; it isn't a tragedy. Maybe it's even a reminder of the fleeting nature of life, the importance of "now." Enjoy the good things today, enjoy the good times without delay; they won't last forever. Also some teas, like some regional wines, are said to "not travel well." This light, delicate Yunnan Maofeng is one of those. Toss it into a suitcase at your peril. Durability is not one of its virtues. Some teas can have their life extended by being vacuum packed in non-porous wrapping. This tea, however, is all wisps of thin leaves and slender shoots; that method would reduce it to powder. Works great for Taiwan Oolong or Fujian Tieguanyin, but not for Yunnan Maofeng. Similarly, freezing is not recommended, though it can extend the life of some other varieties if done properly with commercial equipment. Well, I had to ask, what about the Yunnan Biluochun 云南碧螺春 I had brought over with it? Let's find out how it fared. Beautiful stuff, tightly rolled like a snail. You remember that the name roughly means "spring snail." It was grown and processed in the same general area, far south Yunnan in the famous tea mountains of Xishuangbanna Prefecture 西双版纳州。 Brewed some up in the usual manner. Was greatly relieved to find that it still had plenty of nose and plenty of mouth 口感。The liquor had a pleasant full color. Furthermore, it's "deliciousness factor" had not appreciably declined. Here's a look at the leaves after steeping in hot water. Here's a shot of the brewed leaves of the Biluochun (left) and the Maofeng (right) side by side. And I used my trusty, hand-filling covered teacup from Jianshui 建水 for both. This morning I gave the green tea a rest and made some very fine small-batch Yunnan Dian Hong 云南滇红 red tea from Fengqing County 风情县 。Same approximate vintage, mostly tips 嫩芽, with some complexes including one small leaf. Delighted to report that it was full bodied and rich, bursting with flavor. I'm sure it will be good for a couple more years. Would be interested in knowing your experience with drinking older tea, especially varieties that are intended to be consumed while still young. Have you found a way to revive it or diminish its acquired flaws? Any longevity tricks? Any personal tips on methods of storage? 6 Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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