What is Old Tea? How is Old Tea Formed?

old tea 老茶 一盒精品 ABoxTik

Is old tea really just unsold tea from the past? Although there is no definitive definition of old tea, usually old tea refers to tea that has been aged for more than ten years. After being honed over time, it can release a tea brew flavour that is completely different from ordinary fresh tea leaves. Most of them have woody, pickled, smoked, and herbal flavours to name a few, and they will also vary depending on different varieties and production processes.

Is old tea really just unsold tea from the past, or is there a special process comparable to that of wine where the longer it ages, the more valuable it is, and the more palatable it becomes? Will the extent of appreciation you have for the beauty of ageing really be determined by how long the tea has been stored?

The above questions are exactly what many consumers often ask when shopping. In view of this, today ABoxTik is here to share with you what old tea is, and the significance of the preservation and ageing processes that define old tea. If you are interested in old tea, you must not miss this article today. I believe that after reading this article, not only will you strengthen your knowledge of old tea, but also you will be capable of selecting the best old tea worthy of collection and taste. Let’s get started with today’s introduction!

old tea 老茶 一盒精品 ABoxTik

What is the ideal tea?

What is the preservation environment and proper ageing conditions for tea leaves?

Although many teas will be marked with a shelf life of two years, there is in fact no definitive expiration date in most cases. Having said that, the general rule is that unopened teas stored at room temperature for two years can basically be brewed and consumed without any problems.

In order to maintain the floral and fruity aroma of fresh flowers and fruits, most tea leaves need to be placed for three months to half a year to remove the roasting smell. Or the tea garden management has been specially treated several times, and it is usually more suitable to choose the tea of the new season.

In addition, it is most suitable for tea to be sealed and placed in a cool and dry environment for storage. It is advised that storage temperatures do not exceed 30 degrees Celsius, which will not affect the quality of the tea.

If you want to have tea that can be stored for a long time, you can also refrigerate or freeze it in an unopened, vacuumed-sealed state, which can prolong the shelf life. Under such conditions, tea can be kept for 30 years without deterioration and ageing. Although there is no clear documentation, the basic concept has proven to be correct.

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Old tea is a journey through time, a sip of history that connects you to generations past and present.

old tea 老茶 一盒精品 ABoxTik

Tea Classroom – Old Tea

How is old tea formed?

Old tea and fresh-keeping practices are different concepts. The quality of tea must be maintained during the ageing process, but some substances that help the ageing change must be provided in the process, such as oxygen.

For the tea to be aged, it is contained in a tin or clay pot which is then stored in a cool-dry environment. Although it is to be unsealed, a lid is needed to prevent moisture from entering. At the same time, the humidity in the air should be greater than the optimum humidity for tea leaves (about 3%).

Therefore, the aged tea leaves will need to be dried every once in a while to remove the moisture in the tea leaves. Do not excessively roast as this will change the tea leaves’ quality and destroy the flavour of the old tea that you want to achieve.

What is the process of ageing tea for it to be qualified as ‘old’?

Under the condition of controlled humidity, temperature, air and light, the tea leaves will slowly undergo some changes, so that the aroma and sweetness of the original fresh tea leaves will slowly decrease. At the same time, a film will slowly form on the surface of the tea leaves to block the influence of the air, and the quality of the tea leaves will tend to be stable at this time.

Then, with long-term storage, chemicals such as gallic acid, pentenol, heptadienal, 2,4 hepta dialdehyde (one of the aged aroma substances), octadiene and propionaldehyde will gradually increase. The woody, pickled, smoked, herbal flavours of the tea will continue to increase, while the texture of the tea will become rounded and soft. However, there will be different changes with different tea varieties, and production processes.

Taking common old tea as an example, Wenshan Baozhong tea will release a charming fruity flavour after ageing, which overrides the woody flavour; while Tieguanyin will have some caramel, chocolate, and woody flavours after ageing.

Although from the appearance, the tea leaves and tea brew of the old tea will become darker with time, the zeaxanthin and amino acids are combined, and the theabrownin will gradually increase.

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old tea 老茶 一盒精品 ABoxTik

What is the source of aged tea?

Buying old tea is a very challenging thing. For example, there are many old teas on the market that are difficult to distinguish between, and difficult to authenticate. Here, let ABoxTik introduce some ways to help you identify the legitimacy of old teas, so that you will no longer be confused when buying it!

First of all, it is necessary to acquire knowledge of each individual tea age. For example, the early mechanical rolling technology has not been popularised and developed, so the volume of tea produced will be larger. In addition, high mountain tea is a tea that became popular after the 1990s, so it is difficult to find high mountain tea that was produced prior to the 1990s.

Then, when you are trying old tea, there should be a clear distinction between the woody flavour brought by heavy roasting and the old woody flavour. These things require accumulated experience, and you can continue to learn more through our articles in the future!

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Most old teas sourced from Taiwan are:

1.Tea farmers were reluctant to sell their old tea and specially left it behind as part of their own private collection. This type of old tea is usually high in quality and is one of the directions that can be considered when in the market for old tea.

2.Tea leaves left by tea merchants may be the result of poor sales or business closure. Usually the quality of this type of tea is untestable, and it is recommended not to try.

3.Tea leaves left by tea factories, distributors, and private collectors, however, are generally well preserved and are usually of great quality.

Other privately reserved tea items may be rare and it is often difficult to identify whether the storage environment is good or not, therefore, the quality is not always possible to determine.

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The flavor of old tea is the story of the tea plant, the soil, the air, and the hands that tended it, steeped into a brew that embodies the wisdom of ages.


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The above is an introduction of today’s old tea and I believe that now you have read it, everyone will be able to improve their knowledge of old tea and be capable of selecting the most suitable old tea for individual preference!

ABoxTik will continue to bring everyone different tea knowledge, including history and various analyses of tea culture. In hopes for everyone to acquire a better understanding of tea, please read through our articles. If you are interested in various tea cultures, as well as the history and knowledge of tea, you are welcome to explore more secrets of tea with ABoxTik products. Continue to follow our article updates, and visit our official website!