Sunday, September 10, 2017
Puerh Storage in the West & Traditional Chinese 5 Element Theory on Storing Puerh
If it is a bitter puerh the bitter taste belongs to Fire. Water controls bitter (Fire) so for a bitter puerh to aged more harmoniously and optimally it should be stored more humidly or wet/traditionally stored.
If puerh is very fragrant or pungent tasting, this quality is desired to be maintained. Fragrance is Yang and taste is Yin. It should be stored not in a Yin (wet) environment but rather a dry (Yang) environment. Dryness is the climate of the Lungs and the nose and sense of smell belongs to the Lungs. Therefore, dry storage is best to maintain a fragrant puerh.
I think there is still a lot of misconceptions in the West about how puerh should be optimally stored. The shortsightedness of these misconceptions, is effectively fed by a fallacy of Western thought and logic that there is only one “best” way of doing something.
When some of the first puerh drinkers in the West were looking to buy and store puerh (early-mid 2000s) there was virtually no information about how to store puerh in Western climates and what makes a quality puerh for aging. Essentially, they just looked to what they were doing in the places that consumed lots of puerh- hot and humid Hong Kong and Taiwan. This is where they got their information and this is the rough guidelines that they followed. In these places, relatively bitter factory or old school stronger puerh was aged nicely with more humid and warm fairly open air storage.
In Classic Chinese Medicine, the current state of a being is influenced by environmental placement (fengshui) which includes the natural climate of that place. Individuals with the same presentation or imbalance will essentially be treated completely different to bring about harmony depending on the climate influences where they live. The same principles should be used to optimally and harmoniously age puerh.
Relatively recently, those who have been aging puerh in the West have realized that the guidelines for aging puerh and what makes a good puerh for aging in Asia does not always do well in the drier climates of the West. They have, to some extent, started taking into account the climate where they are aging the puerh.
Nowadays there is a focus, almost an obsession, about the pumidor, or crocks, or other controlled environments which I think is a reaction to initial storage theories in the West. But, still, I think they miss the real point of excellent storage because they are still stuck in the Western mentality that there is one “best” storage for all puerh tea (even when the unique aging climate is already taken into consideration). This is applying an overly simplistic approach to the very unique, varied and complicated qualities of each puerh production.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine the individual is looked at as completely unique and to harmonize each individual a completely customized treatment will work best. This theory is also true for ageing the unique qualities of a particular puerh. You can look at each puerh production as being one of a kind and having its own unique qualities. The most optimal storage of this unique puerh will depend on which qualities you wish to maintain and which qualities you wish to transform. Basically, you have to take into account its individual characteristics and how a particular storage will influence those characteristics.
Essentially, the last consideration you must consider when aging puerh is your own personal preference- how do you like your puerh? Which qualities in a certain puerh do you wish to preserve and which do you wish to transform? Which storage conditions will best bring out the features that you as a puerh drinker value the most?
Simply thinking that all of your puerh will age best under the same conditions is false.