IS NEW TEA OR AGED TEA BETTER?
Many people believe that tea that is newly produced tends to taste and look better as compared to aged tea. This is true for certain types of tea such as Green Tea and Oolong Tea, whereby it is better to buy tea manufactured in the same year. However, other types of tea such as Pu’Er Tea and Black Tea (Dark Tea), as long as they are properly stored, they tend to age well.
The aim of this article is to help you differentiate between new tea and aged tea, so that you can pick the ideal type of tea that matches your tastes and preferences.
The Difference between New and Aged Tea
New tea refers to any tea that is made from the first batch of fresh leaves picked from the tea tree in the same year. The term Aged tea is used in Asia to describe tea that is at least 5 years of age. Aged teas can range from 20, 30, or even 40 or more years of age.
In the tea market, some unscrupulous merchants often use aged tea instead of new tea to deceive consumers, resulting in much pain and regret on the buyer’s end. Here at Pure Chinese Tea, we will provide some methods for judging the differences between new tea and aged tea to help you purchase your next batch of tea leaves.
What To Look Out For
S H A P E
New tea is bright in appearance and feels drier to the touch to the extent that it is easy to break with your fingers. On the other hand, aged tea is dark, soft and not brittle.
C O L O R
During the storage process of tea leaves, the pigments contained within them automatically decompose after reacting with oxygen and light. Because the green chlorophyll found in tea leaves decompose and break down. the color of tea leaves start to turn pale grey-green. The brownish pigments are produced due to the oxidation of ascorbic acid (vitaminc c) which is abundant in green tea. These pigments cause the tea to turn yellow in color. The oxidation, decomposition and polymerization of the theaflavins, which have a great influence on the quality of black tea and the automatic oxidation of tea polyphenols, will cause the black tea to change from black to black grey.
A R O M A
Due to the oxidation, condensation and slow volatilization of aromatic substances, aged tea tend to have a lower turbidity in terms of smell. Scientific analysis shows that there are more than 300 kinds of ingredients that make up the aroma of tea, mainly alcohol, esters, aldehydes and other compounds. They can be volatilized and slowly oxidized during the storage of tea. Therefore, as time goes on, the aroma of the tea leaves will become more faint, and the scent will be faded away, with the aroma of the tea lowering in turbidity.
T A S T E
New tea tends to have a mellow and fresh taste, while older tea tends to have a blander and less pleasant taste. The main substances affecting the taste of tea are polyphenols, amino acids, caffeine, sugar and vitamins.
During storage, because these substances present in tea undergo oxidation and polymerization, some water-soluble condensates are produced. These condensates reduce the solubility of the active ingredients in the tea, changing the taste of the tea from mellow to bland.
At the same time, since amino acids and polyphenols in tea are oxidized to produce dark polymers, the tea loses its refreshing taste and starts to “dull” in flavour.
Tea experts recommend observing the color of the tea leaves first. New tea look bright and smooth while aged tea have darker colors. New tea have a more fragrant aroma while aged tea tends to have less of that. New tea tends to have a sweet aftertaste while the aged tea tends to have a poorer taste.
Additionally, new tea is often stored more effectively. Experts say that new tea is usually kept in a dry, well-ventilated location. If it is necessary to refrigerate the tea leaves, it is best to avoid storing them together with food. The optimal temperature is usually between 0 °C and 4 °C to prevent moisture, oxidation, mildew and odor.