This is a tricky little one. I have no experience with aged oolongs. Zippo. This tea right here is it. So, I have no other points of reference. Take everything that follows with a grain of salt!
I struggled with this tea. I first tried it four months ago and didn’t like it. Literally tasted like a charcoal briquette and some lighter fluid. It has been “airing out” and I decided to give it one more chance. I can say that it certainly has improved. Would it continue to improve with more airing out? Yes and no.
Yes – the roast is prominent. Very medicinal, phenolic. This aspect has definitely died down to something palatable after letting it breathe for four months. Probably would continue with more airing out.
No – the flavors simply aren’t there. The point of aging is to add complexity and layers of flavor. The interesting flavors that are here (prune, baking spice, orange-citrus) are light and not particularly long-lasting. It’s as if this tea has simply been aged too long, and the leaf has lost its potency.
There you have it. An interesting experience, but roasting an oolong to hell and back and letting it sit for twenty years is a lot of trouble for a return that isn’t very great.
Dry leaf: charcoal, lighter fluid, medicinal/phenolic, some prune and dry dark fruit sweetness – like some dry, dusty, left-in-the-cupboard old prunes. In preheated vessel – medicinal, lighter fluid, some prunes.
Smell: charcoal briquette, ash, vague dark fruit flavors and dry baking spices
Taste: arrival of charcoal briquette. Development has dry medicinal notes and hints of dry baking spices. Finish has slight creaminess and light hint of prune. Aftertaste slowly builds to orange-citrus, but is very light. Some hints of milk chocolate as aftertaste fades.