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Over Emphasizing the Importance of Age

“As more people take an interest in Puerh, more and more enthusiasts are seeking out ancient teas in the mistaken belief that the quality of a Puerh tea lies in its age.”

With new waves of tea enthusiasts entering into the Puerh market, the common request being made in many Puerh shops is “Show me your oldest Puerh tea”. This singular emphasis on a tea’s age have left many disappointed by their finds as the quality of Puerh tea does not lie solely on its age. A combination of factors beginning from its production and use of leaf material, processing method followed by storage conditions all play key roles on the quality of a Puerh tea. This is further tampered by time and the care given by the caretaker. It is through a positive culmination of all these factors that will eventually result in a well-aged Puerh tea that is prized amongst tea collectors and connoisseurs alike.

“While age can certainly help refine and improve the qualities of young Puerh, age alone does not constitute excellent Puerh tea.”

Once a Puerh tea has undergone sufficient ageing and reached its peak, it is carefully preserved in plastic. This will lock in the aroma and flavor of the tea and discourage further ageing that will leech out the tea essence.

There are no shortcuts to a well-aged Puerh tea. This comes with time, patience and care in addition to possessing the experience and skill needed for selecting age-worthy young Puerh teas to start with. There is a fantastic variety of young Puerh tea on the market today and contrary to what many vendors will tell you, only a limited number will truly excel after long term storage. The many recipes formulated for various batches of Puerh tea makes each unique in the way they age. Some may take 10 years, others 20 or 30 years to hit their peaks. The longer a tea can be aged and continue to develop will help increase its complexity, enriching its character and overall appeal. But not all teas can withstand a lengthy storage of 30 years, even with the most favorable conditions. The role of a caretaker is essential to monitor the tea periodically, checking for problems of humidity, insect infestation, mould and the status of ageing for each tea. It is crucial to know when a tea has reached its peak before it goes into decline. This downward spiral is highly detrimental as many of the tea’s treasured characteristics will quickly dissipate if the tea not handled properly.

Frankly many ancient Puerh teas over 30 years are not what they could have been due to a lack of care. Few monitoring systems were in place in the past and teas were often poorly stored in small and tight enclosures inside musty warehouses providing small to no air flow. Although much publicity surrounds ancient Puerh teas, most ancient teas when brewed and tasted are anti-climatic and disappointing, very rarely meeting expectations. With the effort and difficulty involved it really is no wonder why there is so small stock of well-aged Puerh tea. That said for many the allure of ancient Puerh tea remain. While it is a challenge to produce a well-aged Puerh tea, the rewards are fantastic. When everything fittingly comes together, a well-aged Puerh tea offers a truly unique and exceptional experience.

“Do not be blinded by age alone, a well-aged Puerh tea is the result of a combination of many vital factors.”

*For full illustrations accompanying this article click on the link puerhcha.com/Pu-erh Tea Articles/Over_Emphasizing_Importance_of_Age.htm Over Emphasizing the Importance of Age or come and visit us at the Puerh Cha website at puerhcha.com/ puerhcha.com

Varat Phong. is the founder of Puerh Cha – an exceptionally informative website that offers both knowledge and an opportunity to experience premium Pu-erh teas. His passion and like for Pu-erh frequently takes him to China, Hong Kong and Taiwan in his continuous search for rare and unique teas. For more information and articles please visit the Puerh Cha website at puerhcha.com www.puerhcha.com

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