Saturday, November 29, 2014

1963 Toufen

Who's up for some OLD tea? 9 years older than the oldest tea on this blog (other than the monstrosity that was labeled as 1954), this is the Nineteen Sixty Three Toufen Oolong, brought to you by Camellia Sinensis. Toufen is a city located in the Miaoli region in Taiwan, in fact it seems like a good amount of aged oolongs come out of Miaoli. Longtime readers and archive diggers might remember my review of Floating Leaves Tea's aged Miaoli.

The dry leaf is small, curly, and brittle, with the yellowish brown color of dead leaves (which is what tea is anyways.). The dry leaf lost all aroma, which seems to be standard for all very old oolongs, and even some younger aged oolongs (such as the Aged Pinglin from Floating Leaves). A Yixing collector/seller based in NYC was telling me about an 1870s oolong he had, he said it lost all aroma and he also told me about how he had to boil it to get flavor out of it. However, he said it was a good tea overall. He seems to have a lot of very old teas, including some 1940s Long Jing, a few other very old boxes of tea (1800s), and some other ~40yr old oolongs. Aroma isn't a good way to predict the quality of a tea in my opinion, as a bland tea might have a strong aroma, and vice versa. However, I digress. The wet leaf is similarly un-aromatic (is that a word?), but it has a slight aged oolong earthy aroma. The tea, like the liquid that you drink, is dark, thick, and smooth. The mellow, earthy profile of this reminds me of aged Liu Bao more than aged oolong or pu'erh, very deep and smooth, easy drinking. The aftertaste is subtle, but present and long.

A common misconception with aged teas is that they're this incredible, ethereal, transcendent experience. The reality is that they probably won't be a mind-blowing experience unless you drink something special. A lot of the good stuff is gone, gulped down by enthusiasts just like you and me. However, each and every tea can serve as a learning experience, especially the rare ones.

Overall, I enjoyed tasting this tea, although it was weak in flavor it was overall a pleasant drink and a great learning experience. It seems that oolongs peak at around 30-40 years of age, which is a long time. I recommend this tea to anyone who is learning about aged oolongs or anyone who wants to drink really old tea (bragging rights? spiritual reasons?).


EDIT: I forgot to link music! This song is nice and mellow, just like the tea: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YQfwPziK-SA

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