Saturday, December 1, 2018
Storage Issues: Maintaining Optimal Aging of a Humidly Stored Semi Aged Sheng Puerh
I think, one of the biggest challenges to storing puerh in the West is this: How can we advance the aging of a semi-aged more humidly stored sheng?
I have noticed, through personal experience and through the shared information of others, that it is quite difficult to effectively and optimally advance the aging of more humidly stored sheng puerh. All efforts I’ve tried and heard about by Westerners seem to only preserve or only slowly advance the aging of humid stored cakes that came from Malaysia, Guangdong, Taiwan, or Hong Kong. None can seem to effectively continue on the trajectory of aging the cake in this manner and little funny things seem to happen to my cakes that, although not rendering them undrinkable, make them not as good as the cakes that I re-order from the same source years later. I’m sure many of you have had this same issue whether or not you’d like to admit it. This is kind of the elephant in the room for people who buy more puerh than they drink.
This has been an issue of mine since coming back to purchasing puerh a year or so ago because I have focused on mainly acquiring semi-aged/ aged puerh. It is the more humidly stored stuff that seems to be more readily available and more popular and trendy and cheaper in the West these days. There are many reasons for this that I should dedicate a whole post to but I think part of the popularity is because it emulates a type of aging that we cannot produce ourselves yet, in most locations in the West. It is human nature to want what we cannot easily acquire. But once we acquire it, then what?
For me, then I have to weigh acquiring a more humidly stored semi-aged or aged puerh in quantity at a lower price but knowing it will not taste better than tea that has had continuous storage at the source vs buying only what I’ll drink immediately and paying more down the road but knowing that the cake will taste better. The caveat here is that we have no way of knowing if a certain production will sell out, become unavailable, not be available in that exact storage or sky-rocket in value to the point that it would have been worth it to just store it in the West rather than pay the exorbitant current costs.
The most promising answer to this problem so far is this experiment by Marco of Late Steeps where he takes 2 identical, newly shipped puerh cakes that were stored in more humid Taiwan storage for their first 9 years and puts them into storage of different temperatures (low temp vs high temp) for one year then tests them. His results for the cooler stored cake sound a lot like some of the issues I have after acquiring a more humidly stored cake.
It’s a good thing I ordered 4 of these hot boxes from Marco when he first announced his experiment publically (hahaha..) because I am putting them to use with some of the everyday drinker, more humidly stored puerh I have purchased over the last year or so.
To me, it seems like the only solution to this problem so far... so I’m going with it…