Aged tea is a type of tea that has been preserved for over a year, while new tea is that which is produced within 12 months. Being produced in different seasons, there are spring, summer and autumn teas so it also helps to first know the different characteristics of seasonal tea before understanding their age qualities.
Spring tea benefits from growing in the season with the least amount of pests; therefore, fewer pesticides are sprayed resulting in a fresher tasting tea. Summer tea contains a higher percentage of caffeine, tea polyphenols and proanthocyanidin. Unlike the spring tea, it tastes bitterer. The tea in autumn is not as popular because of its lack of flavor. Usually, most new tea is produced in the spring. However, water will ruin the flavor of the leaves; because of this the best spring teas are the ones that are plucked prior to the rainy season.
New tea has a fresh and appealing aroma. If you look at these leaves in the water, they preserve their original green color and shape. Most importantly, as time goes on, chemical reactions take the nutrition away. Therefore, the newer tea the better it is.
With that said, aged tea water can be yellow, orange or brown and usually has a dull flavor. However, similar to wine, some tea tastes better as it ages. Old Puer tea has a unique mellow flavor after fermentation, but becomes stronger as time goes on. Longjin tea– one of the most popular teas in China–tastes fresher after being stored with lime. Many Longjin fans call it the process of “getting ripe.”
How can you tell the difference between new tea and old tea?
During storage, the light, the air and the heat cause chemical reactions, so this can influence the color of the tea. For example, as chlorophyll decomposes, the green tea’s color will fade away. The tea polyphenols in black tea will react to air, and darken the color. Generally, new green tea appears crystal green; sometimes it becomes light yellow, and black tea is bright orange when it gets old.
Some aged tea can be dyed green. There is a simple way to identify. Soak the leaves in hot water, and then squeeze the leaves; if the color fades the tea was dyed.
The flavor of new tea appears fresh and strong. The longer the tea is stored, the lighter the smell will be. The aroma of tea consists of alcohols and aldehydes, which volatilize with time. In fact, the new tea presents an odor, which is called the “green odor.” Unless it’s removed, the tea will never reach to its best flavor. There is a saying in Chinese tea culture: “green in exchange for green,” which means, the tea will only taste good if the unpleasant smell fades away.
All tea has a so-called sweet after-taste. However, after-tastes differ from one another. For example, some old tea may have no after-taste at all. Hence, after-taste becomes an essential criterion telling the old from the new.
The new tea is the driest. If you can squeeze it into powder, it’s the freshest! Aged tea is softer and more pliable.
In order to preserve the aroma and taste, tea should be taken care of.
Some people suggest putting tea in a refrigerator, which is proven to be effective. First, the low temperature can neutralize the chemical reactions, and prevent bacteria from reproducing, which helps the taste last longer. Secondly, inside a refrigerator, the humidity and temperature is stable, which prevents the tea from entering decomposition. However, during cold storage, tea must be sealed in order to protect it from other odors.
Drinking tea should be entertaining and relaxing. Unless you are an expert preferring the best quality with a large budget, aged tea is not completely intolerant. Otherwise, if you have oily skin, tea water helps control the oil and decrease acne. It’s a popular method in many spas. Also, if your refrigerator smells bad, put some dry tea inside and the odor will dissipate in no time.