Storage experiment: W2T Tuhao AF 2016, three years in
An update to the storage experiment, featuring White2tea’s Tuhao AF, which I tested after 1 year of storage. This has been in the hotbox at 65%RH and 32C for 3 years now, and I am comparing it to the same tea but stored at 23C in a mylar. The heated tea is on the left side in all photos.
When dry, both teas have some sweet pungency, but the heated tea has more hay and grain sweetness. The unheated tea has a stronger pungency, like fruit candy. After the wash, the unheated tea is much greener and roasty, with a greener appearance. The unheated tea reminds me very much of what the tea was like when I first got it in 2016. The heated tea, not so much.
- First photo is the wash. both are 4g in 70ml gaiwan, timed steeps. First we get a licorice sweet grain taste, with a honey cup aroma on the left, and a noticeably bitter, green taste on the right with a perfumed honey cup aroma on the right. The unheated tea has a definite fresh young sheng profile which is absent from the heated tea.
- Left is sweeter, and thicker. Still has plenty of astringency in the finish but the bitterness is much less pronounced on the left. There is a yeasty, grainy aspect in the heated tea. On the right, a milky green tea taste, and a bitter grassy edge followed by a bitter aftertaste, as I remember from this tea a few years ago.
- On the left, I get some aged oolong notes, like brown aged rolled oolong. Aftertaste is much better on the left, not green-dominant. On the right, the initial taste is not dominant green any more, but rather young sheng strength. The green comes in after swallowing. Aftertaste is bitter and green
- Left is slightly richer, more aged, more honey, and the right is quite a bit more bitter now than before. Both have quite a lot of astringency in the finish.
It is clear that the unheated tea is progressing very slowly compared to the heated tea. It retains its fresh sheng greenness and roastiness, and noticeable bitterness. The heated tea has lost the bitter edge, the grassy green notes, the roastiness, has become slightly less pungent, and has gained sweetness and thickness. The heated tea also has noticeable aged notes, by which I mean signals that you get from mid aged sheng, and aged oolong. These are both still young, and both show quite a lot of astringency in the finish, but the differences are now very apparent, much more so than in the previous test. I would not be able to guess which year 2016-2019 the unheated tea is from, whereas the heated tea definitely strikes as not being too recent, and having around 5 years under its belt at least.
This is not a review of the tea per se, but I should mention that neither the heated nor the unheated tea is impressive, either in terms of taste, mouthfeel, strength, or energy. It is not bad at all, it just doesn’t have the fullness and satisfaction of a great blend or the striking individuality of a strong single origin gushu type production. But maybe this is intended as a competitor to recent mass produced “Lao Ban Zhang” teas, and I am sure it must be better than those… Notice that the aging disparity is clear in the dry and wet leaves below.