Storage experiment: 2016 W2T Bosch, two years in
This is an update to my original post introducing the storage experiment. To review, I am storing part of my 2016 W2T Bosch cake at room temperature (23-24C, on the Right of all photos) and part in my hotbox (described in that post) at 32C (on the Left), both sealed in a mylar bag with no added humidity. The tea has been evolving in this way for two years now, and I describe the results below.
First, a word about the storage system: over the past year, I have been away on sabbatical most of the time, and so the system had to involve zero maintenance. This worked very well, the system has kept its temperature and humidity during the entire year with no interference from me. The only problem I had was that I was using extra sensors from Acurite for monitoring (not for the temperature control) and these failed due to a planned (and forced!) obsolescence by the manufacturer (shame on Acurite). Now I am temporarily using inkbird sensors. In any case, this had no effect on the system.
In both cases I brewed 3.9g in a 60ml gaiwan, with the 4th brew being a longer test brew. The first picture shows the wash.
The difference in colour is even more striking now than last year. On the left is markedly orange whereas the right is green-yellow.
The damp aroma is totally different. Left has a more aged aroma, sweeter and some spice, Right is more sharply pungent.
The empty cup aroma after the wash is sweeter with some faint incense on the Left.
- Both have very clear liquor. Left is sweet, hay, sweet aftertaste. Right is grassy, green, sencha. Empty cup aroma is not particularly strong on either, but is initially more intense on the right, and after a time, sweeter on the left.
- Left is thicker and sweeter, and it has a kind of roasty taste which comes through. Familiar taste for 5 year old sheng. Spicier. Right has a sweet aftertaste, green but not nearly as green as a 2019 tea, certainly. Quite good on the right, thick, and quite a bit more astringent than Left.
- Sweet roasty, rich, syrupy, clearly better on the Left. Bitter, oily, green on the right. I still like it but it is a younger more aggressive profile.
- (Test steep) Left is thicker, roastier, more complex and bittersweet, still aggressive but much more pleasant than Right. Right is very bitter and astringent, not pleasant really.
- Deeper sweetness in the arrival on the Left, whereas we get astringency in arrival on the right. Now the right is really pulling away as being green and harsh.
- Thickness much clearer on Left, right is green, bitter, but still not like green tea, more like young sheng. Crazy strong energy coming from this combined session.
In the early steeps, the teas do strike me as having the same overall profile, but now much more clearly resemble different years of the same production. The heated tea is significantly farther along, with much more development in sweetness, thickness, and complexity of both taste and aroma. The slight roasty notes, the sweetness, the complex bittersweetness, and the slight incense notes are all emergent in the heated tea. In the late steeps, the grassiness and bitterness of the unheated tea seems to take off and the disparity between the two seems more pronounced. I drank with my partner, and neither of us could detect any off storage notes in the heated tea, it seemed more enjoyable, and the differences were not nearly as subtle as last year. To clarify, the heated tea is still obviously a young sheng, and it retains its fair share of bitterness and has a touch of roastiness. But the difference between the teas is unmistakeable and seems to me like a difference in age of at least 2, if not 3, Taiwan storage years. It is hard to put a specific “effective age” label on the tea, but that would be my guess.