I’ve come to develop quite a taste and appreciation for the dirt taste in more humidly stored puerh and the incense taste in dry stored puerh, however, with puerh storage neither is ideal.
Most, if not all, the puerh that I consumed from the 70s, 80s, and 90s in Korea in the 2000s had that dirt taste to it. I believe it is what Marco of Late Steeps refers to as geosmin. It goes without saying that Korea probably wasn’t the best place to find the highest quality puerh. Either way, humidly stored puerh was simply the standard until the 2000s when dry storage started to have more weight. I have a fond appreciation for this aged feature of, well, dirt in puerh that is associated with the good ol’ days. I another reason I like this humid dirt taste is because it is something unattainable to derive solely from fresh young puerh here in the West. Besides this, there is something very grounding, therapeutic, sustaining and warming about the taste of dirt in humidly stored puerh which I’m quite fond of. And I love the taste of beets or carrots freshly pulled from my garden. It’s an acquired taste.
Conversely, I also have quite the taste for a touch of incense in my dry stored puerh. All the fresh young puerh that I purchased all those years back have been very dry stored many of which have picked up an incense taste. It goes without saying that Saskatchewan or British Columbia probably aren’t the best places to age puerh. Either way, this is my reality. I have a fond appreciation from this dry stored feature of, well, incense in puerh which is often associated with a nice dry storage. Another reason I like this dry incense taste is because it is harder to find really nice very dry stored puerh here in the West. Besides this, there is something very relaxing, therapeutic, zen, and peaceful about the nuance of incense in dry stored puerh which I’m quite fond of. I love the smell of incense wafting off the roof tile of a temple or clearing the space of a meditation siting. It’s an acquired taste.
However, it is increasingly apparent to me that although most humidly stored puerh in the West will develop a dirt like taste as it dries out, it is not optimal. It is also become increasingly apparent to me that although many very dry stored puerh in the West will develop an incense taste as it ages, it is not optimal.
In this way optimal dry or optimal humid storage is something beyond dirt and incense.