I’ve relatively recently written a couple of articles on pu’er storage for Moychay — a Russian tea vendor — as part of helping them develop English-language-based content. In general, tea writing is just a hobby for me — not tied to any compensation — but this has been a limited exception with the proceeds quickly converted into some extra sheng cakes.
Pu’er storage isn’t the same kind of concern for me as for most others based on where I live, since the main concern in temperate climates is maintaining a window of relatively higher humidity in colder times of the year when it’s drier indoors. Bangkok stays quite warm and humid. It’s essentially similar to Malaysia’s climate, which is regarded as very suitable for sheng aging. Malaysian storage — and especially a consistently high level of humidity — can lead to teas picking up a slightly earthier flavor in addition to transitioning relatively quickly. With Bangkok experiencing some slightly drier seasons, that particular characteristic flavor change may differ.
To keep this post short I’ll only summarize the four prior posts I’ve written about pu’er storage. The first two on my own blog were entirely research-based, as part of the initial investigation of the topic. The third is a summary posted to the Moychay site: An overview of what is conventionally expressed about storage conditions in online references and discussion. The fourth cites blog sources covering that research input as citations. It mentions two unique references: One on creating a home-made version of humidity control salt-packs, and a second about a series of controlled storage temperature experiments isolating the same teas in two conditions over time to review outcome differences.
I’ve been drinking a considerable amount of both sheng and shu pu’er over the past two years, following four more or so of dabbling; but really that’s a work-in-progress related to personal experience informing this subject. That recent wave of purchases has included young sheng (not yet significantly aged), middle-aged versions (which would invoke some degree of varying results related to conditions and starting points), and more fully aged sheng versions (but not enough of those to separate out aging conditions and location as an input compared against other variables).
On to summarizing those articles’ scopes:
Pu’er storage and fermentation (posted September 2016): A general topic review based on research, along with more focused consideration of an air contact / airflow related theme; the idea of sealing individual tea cakes in something like ziplock bags versus more conventionally not doing that. This touched a little on optimum humidity range and managed conditions versus natural climate in better-known storage areas (Hong Kong, Malaysia, etc.), but the next blog post goes further, with the last going more into opinions on setting controls.
Pu’er storage optimums, and relative versus absolute humidity (November 2017 post): Beyond exploring the same general themes a little more and going further with citing natural climate condition summaries, this explores what relative humidity means; which helps explain why indoor levels are so low during cold seasons in temperate climates (that part might be a bit academic for some). Control conditions and charting related to my day-job background (data center operations and process auditing) help explain how the same concerns could apply to pu’er, and how much water the air can hold at different temperatures defining relative humidity. It’s not difficult to look up climate stats for places like Hong Kong, Malaysia, and Kunming, and this covers that.
To be continued in tomorrow’s post Pu’er Storage Background and Research Summary – Part 2
Photo “Pu er” is copyright under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License to the photographer “Matteo X” and is being posted unaltered (source)
Image “Dry Bulb Temperature, deg C” provided by author