The purpose of this experiment is to observe the effects of heated storage on the aging process of sun-dried black tea.
For this experiment, I chose 2018 Natural Redhead from white2tea. It’s sun-dried and in cake form, which indicates that it should improve with age (as the store page confirms).
- The cake was conditioned to ~50% RH using a Boveda pack, then split into two halves.
- A – 24°C, 50% RH, sealed in mylar
- B – 36°C, 50% RH, sealed in mylar (Boveda not included)
- A – Just as I remember this tea from 6 months ago.
- B – I noticed a strange sharpness in the back of my mouth during the first cup, which subsided and did not return in subsequent brews. I noticed an aroma and taste in this tea that is identical to what I get from the 90s aged dianhong from Teas We Like. The overall profile of this sample has shifted in that direction. It tastes not just warmer, but “hot” in a way. This sample was a little less sweet, and a little more sour than the unheated one. It’s difficult to describe the overall taste without simply pointing the reader at that dianhong, as I don’t have much experience with aged black tea.
I’m not yet polarized toward one storage method or another. Expect an update at the 1 year mark.
Have you done an experiments or have any intuition about higher RH% levels for aging black tea?
I am doing an experiment now with dry, 65%, and 72% for a variety of black teas, but I have a long way to go before it will be ready to evaluate.
I don’t have much experience aging black tea, or even drinking aged black tea. One reference I can point you towards is the 2016 A&P from white2tea. That tea has seen a good amount of warm, humid Guangzhou storage by this point. If your storage goals are on the humid end for black tea, it’s worth trying the A&P to get some idea of where your tea might be headed.
Re: The 65% vs 72% RH black tea experiment, if your ambient temperatures are anything like mine, meaning usually around 21-24 degrees Celsius, it’s going to be a relatively long time until you can even tell a difference between the two samples.