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29 August 2009 @ 04:53 pm
Proper Pu'erh Storage for Best Results  

A good Pu’erh tea for brewing and consumption requires a quality base tea, careful pre-processing and well-designed post-processing.  Pre-processing refers to the preparatory steps to produce the “raw materials” (green mao cha) and post-processing refers to the storage condition under which Pu’erh teas are aged to enhance proper fermentation. In other words, it is not necessarily true that the older the Pu’erh tea, the better.   A superior Pu’erh tea for brewing requires that one start with a good quality “raw tea,” that is carefully and properly pre-processed, and then aged under optimum storage conditions.

 

Tea Master Vesper Chan, a pioneer in Pu’erh dry storage, states that the ideal conditions for storage are an environment with between 50%-60% humidity and a temperature range between 60-70 degrees. As different parts of the world vary in their weather and humidity, Pu’erh teas stored in different environments yield different results. For example, Pu’erh teas stored in relatively dry places like Beijing or Los Angeles will age to become more aromatic, but they will take longer to achieve the smoothness that teas aged in more humid places like Hong Kong or GuangZhou will exhibit.

 

To prove his point, we brewed two pots of the Bana Tea Limited Edition, one from a cake brought back to Hong Kong from Los Angeles and one that Tea Master Chan kept in Hong Kong. As we tasted the two concoctions, it becomes clear that the brew from the cake aged in Los Angeles retained the original tea aroma and freshness while the brew from the cake aged in Hong Kong was darker in color, deeper in flavor, and less aromatic.

 

Pu’erh tea should not be exposed to excessive humidity for prolonged periods of time, or it will become flat and dull.  Pu’erh tea should be stored well above the floor level and be given good ventilation.  If you have a large amount, the tea should be rotated once every six months to even out their exposure to fresh air. Extreme variations in temperature should be avoided.

 

Regarding the use of a humidifier in dry places, Master Chan suggested that it would be fine to use one a few hours once a month to promote faster fermentation. He further stressed that the storage environment must be clean, free of odor and away from direct sunlight. If you are storing a large quantity, always store the raw Pu’erh and ripe Pu’erh separately.

 

 

 
 
 
lethargus on August 30th, 2009 01:13 pm (UTC)
Merci, mais......
Few people at the beginning of the nineteenth century needed an adman to tell them what they wanted.
J K Galbraith
Linda Louiellouie on August 30th, 2009 06:28 pm (UTC)
Re: Merci, mais......
You're right. But people at the beginning of the nineteeth century who stored Pu'erh teas were probably tea vendors themselves and they stored the tea in warehouses. Ordinary people at that time (primarily in China) bought tea for immediate consumption. In GuangZhou (formerly called Canton), people loved to drink Pu'erh tea with Dim Sum at teahouses. Pu'erh tea as a collectible did not start until the 1980's.
soupnoodlessoupnoodles on September 1st, 2009 04:30 am (UTC)
Far be it from me to contradict someone with "Master" in his title. But I think some caution about dry storage is warranted. 30 year Beijing stored cakes I tasted in Maliandao had lost most of their character and flavor. 15 year cakes still retained a certain ethereality, but had definitely lost something important. 10 year old cakes stored in the Bay Area have, by taste and aroma and look, barely aged. Anyone want to host a Bay Area meetup, where I can present these examples?

I grant that Hong Kong storage is often excessively wet, although that may be less the climate than the common practice of using "Steam warehouses" to accelerate aging (even in such a humid climate). But desert storage is not the solution. At least not based on what I have tasted. The first famous dry storage I heard of was the famous '88 Cheeng Beeng. And that was merely Hong Kong (or similar climate) storage with some extra air circulation, according to the information I saw.
Linda Louiellouie on September 1st, 2009 06:08 am (UTC)
The famous "88 Cheeng Beeng" is stored by my tea master, Mr. Vesper Chan, AKA Chan Kwok Yee. Hong Kong's weather is very humid, but only during the spring and not year round. In fact, fall and winter are comfortably dry there. During the season when humidity is high, Master Chan suggests that you open the window to allow more air circulation. The natural change of humidity during the four seasons actually is conducive to the aging of Puerh. Places where humidity is high and the weather is hot all year round are not ideal to age Puerh. Puerh that is aged in those countries are usually flat in taste, according to Master Chan.
(no subject) - soupnoodles on September 1st, 2009 03:05 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - llouie on September 1st, 2009 04:53 pm (UTC) (Expand)
jeffoman on September 1st, 2009 11:02 pm (UTC)
What do you mean by good ventilation? You don't mean something like a fan in your storage cupboard right? Like if I keep my teas in a cupboard which I open daily or every few days that's fine?

Also what has been the experience of people in the Midwest, where we have dry COLD winters and reltively more humid (not wet) warm summers?
Linda Louiellouie on September 2nd, 2009 12:52 am (UTC)
Good ventilation means the tea should have interaction with air. It is the air that enhances the natural fermentation process. An ideal place to put the Puerh tea would be on a open shelf in a den or a room. A kitchen pantry/cabinet is not a good place because of odors from other foods kept in it. Puerh has a strong ability to absorb other odor in the environment. If you put the tea in a storage cupboard, make sure the other storage items have no odor. Open the cupboard door frequently is certainly a good idea.

I think none of us has a lot of experience storing Puerh tea in US cities because Puerh is relatively unknown to Americans until recently. Generally speaking, natural change of humidity during seasonal changes is fine, so long as there is not huge fluctuation of humidity within a short period of time.

My philosophy is that there is not a lot I can do about the climate and weather of the place in which I live. The tea still will age, but may be at a slower pace, as the place I live is quite dry. So long as my Puerh tea is of good quality and I take good care of it, I will enjoy it regardless.

Linda Louie
Bana Tea Company

Storage - jeffoman on September 6th, 2009 07:09 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: Storage - llouie on September 7th, 2009 01:19 am (UTC) (Expand)
Re: Storage - jeffoman on September 7th, 2009 01:47 am (UTC) (Expand)
Re: Storage - llouie on September 7th, 2009 02:52 am (UTC) (Expand)
Re: Storage - jeffoman on September 7th, 2009 03:16 am (UTC) (Expand)
jasonwitt on September 5th, 2009 12:31 pm (UTC)
Good to learn these things.
I'm learning all about Pu-erh with special focus on its spiritual effects on me. It's clear that I have a different experience with different kinds of Pu-erh tea. I'm interested in what aging the tea will do to me as far as a spiritual feeling, and I know it's not completely separable from the flavor of the tea. It's good to know about the differences in humidity here in determining what kind of experience I might get.
jeffoman on September 6th, 2009 08:53 pm (UTC)
Re: Good to learn these things.
I agree, there is something profound (spiritual) about pu-erh; something that touches you. Before I began exploring it, my favorite teas were my Monkey Picked Wu Long and my Jasmine Bi Luo Chun. Now I barely touch my other tea cupboard (although I did enjoy some Jasmine Pearl today).

Pu-erh speaks to you. It's an adventure in tea and it's methods. The millennia of tradition that refined it, the beauty of the tea cakes and in the pot, the amazing land and trees that provide it.

It's a living tea. And it can live a long time. It captures all your senses and does something really special with them. I've never gotten that feeling of well being I get from shoucha from another tea. And shengcha can be so full of Qi, so Yang, that it can be even be alarming sometimes.

Even the brewing of pu-erh is special and requires gongfu (thoughtful skill).

Learning about how to store it is like learning how to nurture this living tea and how these different enviroments effect the tea and then in turn affect you.

Every month I promise myself I'm going to get that Mao Xie I've been wanting or more of my Mount Emei Mao Feng. Then I see that pu-ehr I haven't tried yet and my small (very small) monthly budget for tea is gone.

Pu-erh has taken over and I like it! (maybe there is a living organism in the tea that is responsible: KIDDING).

Jeff Oman
Re: Good to learn these things. - jasonwitt on September 6th, 2009 10:49 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: Good to learn these things. - jeffoman on September 6th, 2009 11:35 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: Good to learn these things. - llouie on September 7th, 2009 02:57 am (UTC) (Expand)
Re: Good to learn these things. - jasonwitt on September 7th, 2009 06:16 am (UTC) (Expand)
Re: Good to learn these things. - jeffoman on September 7th, 2009 08:18 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: Good to learn these things. - jasonwitt on September 7th, 2009 09:07 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: Good to learn these things. - jeffoman on September 7th, 2009 09:32 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: Good to learn these things. - jasonwitt on September 7th, 2009 09:39 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: Good to learn these things. - jeffoman on September 7th, 2009 10:22 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: Good to learn these things. - jasonwitt on September 7th, 2009 11:21 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: Good to learn these things. - jeffoman on September 7th, 2009 11:29 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: Good to learn these things. - jasonwitt on September 8th, 2009 08:14 am (UTC) (Expand)
Re: Good to learn these things. - jeffoman on September 8th, 2009 08:19 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: Good to learn these things. - jasonwitt on September 8th, 2009 08:54 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: Good to learn these things. - jeffoman on September 8th, 2009 09:22 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: Good to learn these things. - jasonwitt on September 8th, 2009 09:42 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: Good to learn these things. - jeffoman on September 8th, 2009 10:14 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: Good to learn these things. - jasonwitt on September 8th, 2009 10:18 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: Good to learn these things. - llouie on September 9th, 2009 12:59 am (UTC) (Expand)
Re: Good to learn these things. - jeffoman on September 9th, 2009 01:24 am (UTC) (Expand)
Re: Good to learn these things. - llouie on September 9th, 2009 01:41 am (UTC) (Expand)
Re: Good to learn these things. - jeffoman on September 9th, 2009 02:06 am (UTC) (Expand)
mcgelligot on September 12th, 2009 10:29 pm (UTC)
Storing Pu-ehr Tea
I am wondering if storing Pu-erh Tea could be done in an old cigar humidor. I have a small one and my wife somehow talked me into giving up cigar smoking. This could be a way to make good use of it, and perhaps acquire a more healthy obsession.
jeffoman on September 13th, 2009 04:47 am (UTC)
Re: Storing Pu-ehr Tea
(Seemed like things were getting too quiet)

I was thinking that would be perfect!
I was in a humidor the other day and thought how great it would be for pu-erh. Can't afford cigars anymore but I still love the smell.

If you could get the scent of cigars out of it. Isn't cedar used a lot too?

I find that pu-erh actually curbs my cravings to smoke significantly so you might be killing two birds with one stone.

Jeff Oman
Re: Storing Pu-ehr Tea - mcgelligot on September 13th, 2009 04:15 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Linda Louiellouie on September 13th, 2009 06:43 pm (UTC)
Re: Storing Pu-ehr Tea
That is a very interesting question. Since I don't smoke cigar, I know very little about cigar humidors. I tried looking it up in the internet, but it does not tell me a whole lot.
Without knowing the specifics of a humidor, I would consider the following:
From the pictures I saw in the internet, some humidors are made of cidar. I would be concerned about the odor of the cidar wood. It will affect the tea cake.
It is important for Pu'erh to be able to interact with air. Will your tea cake be able to "breath" in a humidor box?
Jeff made a good point about the odor of cigar. If the odor is present, you may not want to use it, unless you want your Pu'erh to smell like cigar. ;-)
One thing you can do is to experiment yourself. Age a tea cake inside a humidor and one outside of the humidor. Check for the differences of the tea cakes in six months. It may give you a good answer as to what you want to do in the long run.

Linda Louie
Re: Storing Pu-ehr Tea - theearnedarf on September 14th, 2009 09:22 pm (UTC) (Expand)
jeffoman on September 13th, 2009 07:06 pm (UTC)
Linda is right.
Cedar wood and cigar scents are both penetrating.
Try a 100g cake of each, shoucha and shengcha.
As Linda has been pointing out, air movement is really important too. The walk-in humidors I've been in were ventilated. Maybe not enough?

Jeff Oman
jackpong2 on September 25th, 2009 09:57 am (UTC)
Tea storage
I had read through your postage and the comments. I do agree with you to certain degree on the conditions of the tea storage conditions .
However, I would to suggest that the most suitable is condition for Puer tea is 70/80% of humidity and temperature should 70/80 degrees.
Which is the normal condition of South East Asia climate/ tropical climate ( (inshort tropical/equatorial climate ). I think so far Malaysia and Singapore conditions are the best condition to store puer tea.

The reason why I had stated such claims are due to the some experiments that myself and some hardcore puer tea lovers had done previously.
We had did what your master had similary done which we had use Menghai 1996 water blue label 水蓝印 tea from Hongkong and Malaysia storage. The results are similar as well. These tea was store in their respective countries for 13 years.
And it had proven that the "dry" and clean storage puer tea will have longer life span on the aromatic and freshness of the tea.

Some of the tea collectors in China now are looking for Malaysian storage teas as they had claimed that the Malaysian atorage teas are the cleanest and have the best preserved aroma for Puer tea.

However the Malaysian tea will not be as smooth as the HK counterparts with the same age ( due to the humidity and wetness of the storage )and they do need more time for fermentation. Teas store in Malaysia will need at least 10 to 15 years to get the aged smooth and aromatic feeling.
However, the original and the freshness will be well maintained.
The Malaysian storage puer tea brew colour is golden brown whereas the HK Brew is reddies dark brown.

Anyway, there are some tea lovers who does love the "wet storage" tea as they had claimed that these tea are smooth and have heavy aged taste.

And I do agree with jeffoman that Puer tea is a living tea as these tea could change from a ugly duckling to a beautiful swan when it ages beautifully.
Those who interested to have some Malaysian storage can PM me and I would send some to you for sampling as I am from Malaysia.

I am NOT trying to hard sell Malaysian storage tea but I think Malaysia storage tea does deserve some recognition on its own status and accord.
My two cents comments
jackpong2 on September 25th, 2009 10:03 am (UTC)
Tea storage
I had read through your postage and the comments. I do agree with you to certain extend on the conditions of the tea storage conditions .
However, I would to suggest that the most suitable is condition for Puer tea is 70/80% of humidity and temperature should 70/80 degrees.
Which is the normal condition of South East Asia climate/ tropical climate ( (in short tropical/equatorial climate ). I think so far Malaysia and Singapore conditions are the best condition to store puer tea.

The reason why I had stated such claims are due to the some experiments that myself and some hardcore puer tea lovers had done previously.
We had did what your master had similary done which we had use Menghai 1996 water blue label 水蓝印 tea from Hongkong and Malaysia storage. The results are similar as well. These tea was store in their respective countries for 13 years.
And it had proven that the "dry" and clean storage puer tea will have longer life span on the aromatic and freshness of the tea.

Some of the tea collectors in China now are looking for Malaysian storage teas as they had claimed that the Malaysian storage teas are the cleanest and have the best preserved aroma for Puer tea.

However the Malaysian tea will not be as smooth as the HK counterparts with the same age ( due to the humidity and wetness of the storage )and they do need more time for fermentation. Teas store in Malaysia will need at least 10 to 15 years to get the aged smooth and aged feeling.
However, the original and the freshness will be well maintained.
The Malaysian storage puer tea brew colour is golden brown whereas the HK Brew is reddies dark brown.

Anyway, there are some tea lovers who does love the "wet storage" tea as they had claimed that these tea are smooth and have heavy aged taste.

And I do agree with jeffoman that Puer tea is a living tea as these tea could change from a ugly duckling to a beautiful swan when it ages beautifully.
Those who interested to have some Malaysian storage can PM me and I would send some to you for sampling as I am from Malaysia.

I am NOT trying to hard sell Malaysian storage tea but I feel that Malaysia storage tea does deserve some recognition on its own status and accord.
My two cents comments
Linda Louiellouie on October 13th, 2009 07:49 pm (UTC)
Re: Tea storage
Thanks for such a detailed analysis. I have never tried Puerh stored in Malaysia and would love to try some for educational purposes. I do have a question. From what I was told speaking with Puerh merchants in China and Hong Kong, teas stored in Malaysia undergo aging faster due to the heat and high humidity. But you are indicating the opposite. Are you saying the weather in Malaysia is drier than in Hong Kong or China?

Re: Tea storage - jackpong2 on October 14th, 2009 09:56 pm (UTC) (Expand)