1988 Aged Ginseng Oolong Tea, Lot 237

Tea type
Oolong Tea
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Ash, Blackberry, Caramel, Char, Cherry, Chocolate, Cream, Earth, Herbaceous, Mineral, Mushrooms, Paper, Raisins, Tobacco, Vanilla, Wood, Musty, Drying, Dust, Medicinal
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Loose Leaf
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Edit tea info Last updated by eastkyteaguy
Average preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 2 min, 45 sec 5 g 4 oz / 131 ml

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From Taiwan Tea Crafts

This attractively-priced aged tea is another lot that comes from our own family reserve, just like this lot, but this one has quite a different story. Usually aged teas will just sit quietly in a corner of a room to mature, but this Lot 237 is a rather well-travelled one! It was scented in 1994 from a stock of local grown, hand-picked Cing Xin, possibly from Mr. Chen’s garden of the time. And then, this production was shipped to China to supply the family’s chain of tea stores. Not long ago, we received an enthusiastic phone call from China, Mr. Chen had found by chance a small batch of this lot in our China factory, and after tasting it, was pleasantly surprised by the way it had matured. Enough so, to call Taiwan to brag about it! He described its nice aged character, with roasted nuttiness, dried fruit compote, and “crême-brulée” burnt-sugar sweetness. But most of all, the nice, mellowed-out ginseng finish of sweet warmth that lasts and lasts. This was not his usual style to boast about some his teas, so we all thought that this Lot must be something! So we ordered it back to its origins, in Taiwan, and it is now ready to travel further to your teapots, wherever they may be!

Note added on Nov. 15, 2013. This tea was previously sold as a 1994. We’ve found new evidence that traces this lot to 1988 and made the correction accordingly. We apologize for the possible confusion.

About Taiwan Tea Crafts View company

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7 Tasting Notes

1048 tasting notes

Here is one of the last two reviews I had left in my April backlog. I received this tea back in 2017 as part of TTC’s Aged Tea Sampler. I put off trying it for so long simply because it was already old, so there was no need to rush with it. Honestly, I’m glad I put it off as long as I did because I hate posting negative reviews, and well, there was no way I could give this tea a good one.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After the rinse, I steeped 6 grams of the loose tea leaf and ginseng blend in 4 ounces of 205 F water for 8 seconds. This infusion was followed by 18 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 10 seconds, 12 seconds, 16 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, 5 minutes, 7 minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes, and 20 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea and ginseng blend emitted powerful aromas of earth, raisin, wood, mushroom, old paper, and ginseng. After the rinse, I picked up aromas of ash, charcoal, and caramel. The first infusion did not add any new aromas, but the previously noted aromas grew so powerful that they burned my nose. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented strong notes of earth, wood, old paper, mushroom, charcoal, ash, and ginseng that were balanced by subtler impressions of cream, vanilla, raisin, and caramel. I also detected a little chocolate after each swallow. The subsequent infusions introduced aromas of chocolate and tobacco. Stronger and more immediate chocolate notes appeared in the mouth alongside impressions of blackberry, tobacco, and minerals. There were also some hints of black cherry here and there. As the tea faded, the liquor emphasized notes of minerals, old paper, mushroom, earth, ginseng, and wood that were underscored by hints of blackberry, black cherry, ash, vanilla, and tobacco.

God, this was rough stuff! Some of the aromas and flavors were reminiscent of a very earthy shu pu’erh but much stronger, more forceful, and far more unpleasant than even some of the roughest, cheapest shu. The texture of the tea liquor was ashy and gritty. It was very hard to drink. This was also a persistent, durable tea that did not want to give up the ghost during my review session. I can’t say that I hated everything about it as I did like some of the sweeter and fruitier characteristics this tea displayed, but still, I did not enjoy drinking this tea much at all. I cannot say that I would recommend it to anyone aside from fans of very earthy shu.

Flavors: Ash, Ash, Blackberry, Blackberry, Caramel, Caramel, Char, Char, Cherry, Cherry, Chocolate, Chocolate, Cream, Cream, Earth, Earth, Herbaceous, Herbaceous, Mineral, Mineral, Mushrooms, Mushrooms, Paper, Paper, Raisins, Raisins, Tobacco, Tobacco, Vanilla, Vanilla, Wood, Wood

7 min, 0 sec 6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML
Martin Bednář

What a oldie


Oh dear!

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400 tasting notes

Smell: Old wet hay + mildewed basement.

Taste: The earthworm flavored Jellybelly bean from Bott’s Every Flavor Beans + wet hay.

Just skip this one and save yourself the trouble of trying it.


Well, then… Kind of makes me wish Steepster had an anti-wishlist. XD


i’m curious now lol


CrowKettle I’m learning that “old” doesn’t mean “good.” :p


thanks steve

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358 tasting notes

So…we decided to have this in case it was on that we needed to “get out of the way.” Got it from Haveteawilltravel’s stash. We rip open the 5g sample and it smells like…yard work. I say it smells like yard clippings, SO says it smells like yard clippings and sweaty man. I cannot entirely disagree. Keep in mind, neither of us has had ginseng before. The cat flees the room. There’s no turning back now.

The leaves are dark and rolled. I decide to treat this like any other oolong. Wash. 20 second steep. Slightly reddish, darker amber color. We sip. It basically tastes like it smells. It just leaves a weird, unidentifiable taste behind. Whether this is the taste of ginseng or aged oolong, I have no idea.

I refill the gaiwan with water. The SO asks why. This is our only sample. Gotta follow through!

The flavor is stronger in the next steep, and there is some bitterness. The following steeps just taste the same. This tea has been an experience, but it’s not one we feel a need to repeat.

Flavors: Musty

205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 5 g 3 OZ / 100 ML
Roswell Strange

I definitely feel like ginseng is one of those flavours where less is more.


Yeah…I fear I may be somewhat reluctant to try ginseng in other forms in the future. But I will try to keep an open mind.

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1113 tasting notes

I’ll make this short: There’s a reason there are not many aged ginseng oolong out there.


Is that a good thing? Or…

Liquid Proust

It’s a good thing that they are not around. This is not something I would recommend someone spending money on.


hahah same though I had xD


When I first read the tea’s title I didn’t see the ginseng part and I was fascinated by your acquisition of a 1988 oolong. I have to say, any added herbs or flavorings to tea is a turn off for me, but ginseng of all things could be a cool alternative to tea. I see this a waste as well because I would like to go in one direction or the other, while this tea seems to be lying right in between.

Liquid Proust

@kevdog19 I’ve got oolong from the 1960s… they are not hard to find, actually. I ran an aged oolong group buy in 2015 and we all received two from the 70’s, one of which was a oriental beauty; taste like a 90’s sheng to me… frickin’ great stuff.

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521 tasting notes

My friend in Arizona loves Ginseng Oolong. He loves them so much I got him a half pound for Christmas, and he is nearly through all of it. So, as a treat, I brought this down when I visited for vacation. I grabbed my gaiwan and warmed it up. We opened the package and inspected the curly nuggets. The small rolled oolong had grown very dark with age, and it carried a slight woody and dust scent. We placed all we had inside the gaiwan and let them sit. I lifted the lid and took in the aged aroma. The ginseng was slight, but it had the sweet familiar characteristics. I rinsed the leaves once and prepared for brewing. Honestly, this was not a wow tea for either of us. We sat and tasted and relaxed in the tea, but I didn’t taste of anything all that great. In fact, I was done with the session by the third steep, but I kept going for his sake. The tea had the common ginseng oolong taste in the first step; however, the brew wasn’t stevia sweet; it was almost medicinal. The flavors were rough and dusted. There was an odd tone about this brew, and we couldn’t put our finger (or tongue) on it. I kept steeping for a little while longer until my friend held up his hand in response to “no more”. Or rather, in his own words, “I think the tea is on its last limb, best we lay it to rest”. We were both unsatisfied after the session, and we progressed unto some aged sheng. Anyways, I don’t think ginseng oolong should be aged; rather, I prefer it to be in it’s fresh state. However, I am happy to have experienced it, and I did learn from the experience. I was a little sad that my friend didn’t enjoy it as much as I hoped, but I had him smashed and tea drunk in no time with the sheng, haha.


Flavors: Drying, Dust, Herbaceous, Medicinal, Wood

Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 3 OZ / 100 ML
Liquid Proust

It is a dry tasting tea, one that was for the experience. After drinking this, I believe I know why we don’t see other aged ginseng tea out there.


I’m glad we came to the same conclusion! :)

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681 tasting notes

Sample from the EU TTB

This one’s not for me. I usually really enjoy ginseng so was drawn to this one, but it’s nothing like I expected. The scent of the dry leaf is woodsy and thick, but even so it took me aback by how earthy and leathery this smells once steeped. Unfortunately the flavours are very similar – leathery, earthy and slightly smoky and vegetal in the aftertaste. I can’t detect the ginseng, and whilst I feel this would be an attractive tea for those who enjoy pu’erhs and more woodsy, earthy teas in general, it’s just not something I personally would usually choose. It is definitely an interesting tea, and quite complex, but not particularly enjoyable for myself.

190 °F / 87 °C 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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1379 tasting notes

I am extremely excited to try this tea, it’s all I have thought about since I got it. 1988, 27 years ago…and also the year I was born. I have tried a Pu Erh from 1988 once before but not an Oolong, it just sounds extremely special. Plus the fact that it’s ginseng just adds to the power of it’s awesomeness. I simply must try it.

I have two hours free before visiting my parents for our weekly catch up. For now I am filling my day with my favourite things. I’m wearing my new A Day To Remember vest top whilst listening to them (favourite band and new favourite item of clothing at the moment). Plus I plan on having ramen for lunch (my favourite) and I’m sure you can all see the theme. It’s all the preparation before trying this tea because that is how special it feels to be trying it. 1988 nostalgia.

The Oolong itself is a medley of brown tones with gold/red stems. Good sized pieces, averaging (3-5mm). They look kind of, squiggly, still in balls but slightly loosened over time.

They smell wooden, dry and musty. Like an old book that hasn’t been read in a long time. The more I smell the stronger the gingseng becomes, herbal yet refreshing and slightly sweet amidst the age of years since passed.

Steeping parameters:
Leaf: 5g
Water Temp: 100 C
Method: Gaiwan 100ml
Rinse: 3 seconds

First Steep – 35 seconds
Medium brown colour. Coffee like scent, dark, sour, bitter, rich…just like coffee.
It also tastes a little like coffee. It’s darkly roasted and sour with some bitterness (but pleasant) and it finishes with a brown sugar lightness. Lingering after taste of chestnuts and prunes.

Second Steep – 1 minute
Still coffee like at first but a little more mellow and smoother than the first steep. Still getting the chestnut and prunes in the after taste. Slight increase in sweetness. Also a touch of dryness during the after taste. The ginseng also adds a refreshing tone.

Third Steep – 1 minute 30 seconds
This is more earthy than the previous steeps. I taste wood and earth, damp, musty and almost Pu Erh like. But still with soft coffee sour vibes. The aftertaste appears increasingly nutty with aid of dryness. It’s a lighter and cleaner steep so far, but still that lingering after taste. Lovely.

Fourth Steep – 2 minutes
Less bitter but still remains sour. Coffee notes are dominant at first before the sourness kicks in and behind that is brown sugar, sweet, refreshing ginseng and chestnut lingering, dry aftertaste. Every other sip the damp wood comes through a bit stronger than it did before.

Fifth Steep – 3 minutes
Light steep but still a good strength after taste. A lot less coffee tones in this now. Increase of dryness.

Sixth Steep – 4 minutes
Not much remains at all, no coffee, no sweetness. Now It’s wet wood, ginseng and chestnut. Light but in the after taste.

It tastes wise, like it has secrets that no one else knows. Wisdom from the years. As coffee like as I found it (and how much I actually dislike coffee) this was a very interesting tea, and I rather enjoyed it. It had more to offer than just the coffee, at times it was like drinking two different teas. First was the coffee tones and then came the nut and fruit tones which was certainly more tea-esque.

Needless to say this was certainly not what I was expecting, but still it was wonderful to try it and I have a feeling I will develop an odd craving for this one. May have to pick up more of it when I can :)

For pictures please view my blog: http://www.kittylovestea.co.uk/2015/07/03/1988-aged-ginseng-oolong-a-tea-as-old-as-me/

Boiling 5 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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