The compressed white tea (cake-shaped or brick-shaped) has become a favorite to the majority of tea drinkers, especially Fuding White Tea lovers. The stored tea goes through its aging process with time, before maturing into a fragrant product that only aged tea can offer.
To make a good pot of aged tea, the step of “waking up” should not be omitted. It not only helps to resolve any issues from storage process (e.g., mild dampness; slight odors from the storage environment) but also, by letting the tea come into contact with clean air, it can accelerate the oxidation of tea and enhances quickly the overall taste of the well-preserved tea.
Some people believe that it is only necessary to wake up aged white tea. Actually, even newly-produced white tea also benefits from this process.
How to wake up the tea?
Use an unglazed pottery jar, a purple clay jar or a porcelain pot as a wake-up container. Containers made of wood, bamboo, or dark colored glass may also be used. Aluminum foil sealed bags can be used as well.
Before putting in the tea for waking-up, the container (new or used) should be scalded with boiled water, soaked and dried. This step should be repeated once a day for several days, for sterilization and to remove any undesired odors coming from the container that will affect the taste of the tea. The container must be dried thoroughly in the air, otherwise the remaining water in the jar will cause the tea to be damp, leading to mildew.
Take the amount of tea you plan to use (e.g. enough for a few weeks) from the compressed tea cake or brick. Break into smaller (about 4~6g) pieces and place them into the wake-up container and cover it. If an aluminum foil sealed bag is used, seal the bag tightly.
It is good for the tea to wake up in the container for about 3 to 15 days before using.
Note on Ventilation:
For some aged white tea, it may be placed in a clean, dry and ventilated place for several days prior to placing it in the wake-up pot. During this time, tea is most likely to be contaminated by unwanted additional smells; therefore, care should be taken to select a ventilated environment that is free of odors that may affect the tea. The selected environment should also avoid sun exposure or prolonged exposure to artificial lighting. The ventilation time could be 2-3 days or 1-2 weeks, depending on the condition of the tea. After the ventilation is finished and the aged tea has released unwanted odors, put it into the container for the wake-up process.
The simple waking-up process may sound unnecessary; but, it can bring a pleasant surprise when making tea with these “awakened” leaves.
［原创］Edited translation by zenteaone.org from posting of The Five Petals Tea Hut.