Compressed pu-erh tea has a long history of centuries, and in that form, its ability of age well was discovered. These days other form(s) of compressed teas are available. They are white teas both from Fujian and Yunnan. They are becoming more popular.
Actually, it was the early 2010s when Bai Mu Dan (white peony cakes) were available in the Chinese tea market, and Western markets followed suit shortly after. I have read somewhere that the intention was to sell white tea as the pu-erh teas were hitting good numbers. However, it was then discovered that the white tea matures finely as well, making the taste woodier and sweeter. And in my view, more similar to black tea.
However, there is a science behind that. The flavonoid content of white tea (the highest already amongst all sorts of teas, including fresh tea leaves) increases over the years. Not only that but also the caffeine content of white tea decays over time. Flavonoids are potent antioxidants that prevent cells from deterioration and ageing and may have anti-cancerogenic characteristics.
A Fujian proverb says that white tea: “One year a tea, three years a medicine; seven years, a treasure!”
So after all, the Chinese might have reinvented something they already knew.
Harvest time: Autumn 2013
Leaf colour: Dark brown, green with some white fuzz
Liquor colour: Dark yellow
Tea Aroma: Floral and spicy
Tea taste: Sweet, woody and slightly floral
Steeping: Place 5 g of tea leaves in a gaiwan/teapot. Add 100 ml water at about 95°C. Steep for 5 seconds and rinse the liquid out. Steep for 15 seconds. To each consecutive infusion add 5 seconds. You can infuse up to 7 times or until the taste is lost.
Shelf life: Can be aged