Aging Puerh.


One of the intentionally aged teas, Pu-Erh has a loyal following.

Re: Aging Puerh.

Postby MarshalN » Jun 28th, '14, 08:51

kyarazen wrote:
sung8891 wrote:
:-) so before you even think of storage , you have first to ensure that the tea you buy is of the type that will age well. A lot of vendors that sell the type that won't age well will tell you to keep your tea sealed. A tea properly processed for aging will age, it is just a matter of time.



perhaps you will need to taste a proper sealed tea before deciding.
my relatives in ipoh did go into a crazy period of buying pu-erh tea because everyone was hyping. was given some dayi tea recently. their expected outcome is to have the "attap-water" taste and smell, reminiscent of the roofing of their homes in child hood, bamboo taste, old book, old paper smell.. :)

it was only the 90s when several taiwanese tea lovers pushed for the dryed stored pu-erh vs the hk wet stored pu-erh and as some of the writers had described, it took them a long time to convince others on the dry stored method.

and this time round it will probably take a long time to convince people on heavy compression or sealed stored types of pu-erh. i've had the fortune of tasting some superb sealed stored pu-erh, and have found the parameters (almost!) after a load of experiments and measurements in lab. i've also several heavily compressed teas from late 80s to 90s.. but no longer drinking them or offering them as free samples as i rather keep them intact (due to sudden intense price increment!)...


You have to remember that most places are not like Malaysia, and the storage conditions in drier, cooler places are not going to be the same. Slowing down aging via wrapping maybe a good idea in Malaysia, but my friends in Hong Kong, some of whose livelihood depends on them storing their tea well because they sell tea for a living, don't wrap their teas until they reach about 30 years old. Experiments have been run and optimal storage has been discovered a long time ago - it's not news. They've been in the business for three generations. Storing tea in places with real winters will mean even slower aging to start off with, which means that methods to make it even slower, like wrapping, is probably not going to be suitable. If someone in Chicago read this and went ahead and wrapped all his tea in shrink wrap, 30 years later he'll still have "grape juice", as shah put it. In Malaysia it might've turned into wine, but in other places it'll not be so good.

So I think a very important thing to remember is all the "shrink wrap" advocates here are talking of storage comparisons with hot and humid places like Malaysia and Singapore. YMMV if you're in a colder and drier climate.
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Re: Aging Puerh.

Postby chrl42 » Jun 28th, '14, 09:08

I might think it also depends on tea itself.

Personally I would leave any Dayi Bings with some oxygen. Then there's delicate tea like Youle..I personally store them in a ziplock. :)
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Re: Aging Puerh.

Postby Tead Off » Jun 28th, '14, 10:03

MarshalN wrote:You have to remember that most places are not like Malaysia, and the storage conditions in drier, cooler places are not going to be the same. Slowing down aging via wrapping maybe a good idea in Malaysia, but my friends in Hong Kong, some of whose livelihood depends on them storing their tea well because they sell tea for a living, don't wrap their teas until they reach about 30 years old. Experiments have been run and optimal storage has been discovered a long time ago - it's not news. They've been in the business for three generations. Storing tea in places with real winters will mean even slower aging to start off with, which means that methods to make it even slower, like wrapping, is probably not going to be suitable. If someone in Chicago read this and went ahead and wrapped all his tea in shrink wrap, 30 years later he'll still have "grape juice", as shah put it. In Malaysia it might've turned into wine, but in other places it'll not be so good.

So I think a very important thing to remember is all the "shrink wrap" advocates here are talking of storage comparisons with hot and humid places like Malaysia and Singapore. YMMV if you're in a colder and drier climate.

I don't shrink or vacuum pack any of my cakes and I also don't advocate it except for experimental purposes. I do store them in zip lock bags which are not air-tight. In SE Asia, leaving your cakes exposed to the elements is looking for trouble. Traditionally, tongs were used to keep the elements at bay as well as transporting the teas. It is impossible for cakes stored in ziplocked bags 'not' to age, just like it is impossible for wine in a bottle not to age. All the elements are already there to feed the fermentation process.

What is absent in Chicago most of the time is the heat, which is a necessary element to age the cakes. Controlled environments using heat & moisture are necessary. If this is done, I would still use zip lock bags for that extra protection.

In Tibet, I would strongly doubt that anyone was buying Puerh for aging. Keeping warm, hydrated, and alert was probably the norm and most would care less about aging any teas.

I think it was Hojo who came up with the idea of shrinking and vacuum packing cakes. Perhaps he got the idea from someone already doing it, I can't say for sure. But, either he is a genius, or someone who is going to be sorely disappointed in 10 years when his cakes have been 'stunted'.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but most of the old time collectors in Malaysia and Sing have not been shrink wrapping for 10-30 years, just using zip lock and plastic wrap.
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Re: Aging Puerh.

Postby Puerlife » Jun 28th, '14, 10:35

Correct me if I'm wrong, but most of the old time collectors in Malaysia and Sing have not been shrink wrapping for 10-30 years, just using zip lock and plastic wrap.


When the temperature changes (a lot?), condensation will form in ziplock bags, or so I was once told, as opposed to this not happening with shrink wrapping or plastic wrap. I suppose here in S.E. Asia the temperature doesn't change that drastically, and it should be easy to check for visually. Sorry, this is my long-winded way to ask if anyone's had a problem with condensation.

Also, how about bubble wrap? The Thai post office sells paper envelopes that are lined with bubble wrap on the inside.
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Re: Aging Puerh.

Postby sung8891 » Jun 28th, '14, 10:57

I live in Malaysia and I don't shrink wrap or take any extraordinary measures with my tea. Mostly they just lie around in cupboards or urns till I have need of them. Once I have opened a cake , that's when I take certain measures to wake it up for drinking.
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Re: Aging Puerh.

Postby kyarazen » Jun 28th, '14, 12:08

MarshalN wrote:You have to remember that most places are not like Malaysia, and the storage conditions in drier, cooler places are not going to be the same. Slowing down aging via wrapping maybe a good idea in Malaysia, but my friends in Hong Kong, some of whose livelihood depends on them storing their tea well because they sell tea for a living, don't wrap their teas until they reach about 30 years old. Experiments have been run and optimal storage has been discovered a long time ago - it's not news. They've been in the business for three generations. Storing tea in places with real winters will mean even slower aging to start off with, which means that methods to make it even slower, like wrapping, is probably not going to be suitable. If someone in Chicago read this and went ahead and wrapped all his tea in shrink wrap, 30 years later he'll still have "grape juice", as shah put it. In Malaysia it might've turned into wine, but in other places it'll not be so good.

So I think a very important thing to remember is all the "shrink wrap" advocates here are talking of storage comparisons with hot and humid places like Malaysia and Singapore. YMMV if you're in a colder and drier climate.


i'm definitely not forcing people to think that sealed storage is the mainstream way to go, but to have it recognized as a possible alternative than the current condescending views to it.

actually grape juice is made into wine by controlling the oxidation, if you make it anaerobic, the juice becomes wine. if its aerobic, the juice becomes vinegar. controlled oxidation is the key

sealing is a way of controlling oxidation. many teas fear exposure, if you leave your dragonwell, spring gaoshan oolong etc exposed over time, it wont do any good to the tea. once it goes stale, your only option is to keep it for long enough, in an environment good enough for it to develop the "aged" taste (thats if the material is right, dragon well is too poorly lignified to be able to aged that way).

whilst some would argue that pu-erh tea is compressed to save space, and that it is used as a currency, make it easy to transport, the tea bricks/cakes they made in ancient days when tea was currency, is probably not the type of pu-erh we have today.

what i see pu-erh tea's compression, is an attempt to control the oxidation over time. if maximum exposure, free exposure, airy, constant high humidity is the key to aged pu-erh's good taste, then why not loosen out all the cakes in storage into loose leaf to have maximum contact and benefit from this? in reality if you have loose leaf, the tea advances faster than the cake form. in 2003, i bought a menghai gushu cake, due to poor compression, it was already falling apart at the sides from the start. i removed the loose leaves (about half the cake worth) and put them into a canister, sealed, and the remaining compacted parts, went into a ziploc. in a recent tasting, the loose leafs advanced way faster than the compressed parts. i had given some of the loose leaves as samples to other tea chatters as an example of what could come out from such a storage method.

once compressed into a cake, the only way bulk of the leaf in the middle of the cake or brick to get exposure to oxygen, humidity, is through the surface leaves of the brick or cake. it becomes a "gradient". if you do a direct cross section of a tiebing i.e. XG8663, or if you brew the middle of the tiebing and the surface, the color is different, the wet leaf is different color too.. but all same cake. due to over-compression, it becomes "anaerobic" in the middle, and less affected by humidity.

apart from the gradient, the other issue that is critical is water/moisture content. i've done water content measurements on cakes that are newly produced to that of cakes that taste good, cakes that taste bad. so if you seal a cake, you had better know the water content of it before you do so, if not it will be overly slow, or eventually mouldy.

a dry, low compression cake was aired for a month, and when the surface and inner leaves are measured, there was almost the same water content, difference of only about 1%. but for a more heavily compressed cake, the difference between surface and core is larger, at several percent.

do not get mistaken that i'm obsessing over water here, just that i use it as an indicator of how much "air penetration" is going on into the cake, since the air brings moisture in, it would bring oxygen in too. i'm not equipped to do oxygen/gaseous studies at the moment, but if a way can be devised, it would be more revealing.
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Re: Aging Puerh.

Postby kyarazen » Jun 28th, '14, 12:17

Tead Off wrote:I don't shrink or vacuum pack any of my cakes and I also don't advocate it except for experimental purposes. I do store them in zip lock bags which are not air-tight. In SE Asia, leaving your cakes exposed to the elements is looking for trouble. Traditionally, tongs were used to keep the elements at bay as well as transporting the teas. It is impossible for cakes stored in ziplocked bags 'not' to age, just like it is impossible for wine in a bottle not to age. All the elements are already there to feed the fermentation process.

What is absent in Chicago most of the time is the heat, which is a necessary element to age the cakes. Controlled environments using heat & moisture are necessary. If this is done, I would still use zip lock bags for that extra protection.

In Tibet, I would strongly doubt that anyone was buying Puerh for aging. Keeping warm, hydrated, and alert was probably the norm and most would care less about aging any teas.

I think it was Hojo who came up with the idea of shrinking and vacuum packing cakes. Perhaps he got the idea from someone already doing it, I can't say for sure. But, either he is a genius, or someone who is going to be sorely disappointed in 10 years when his cakes have been 'stunted'.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but most of the old time collectors in Malaysia and Sing have not been shrink wrapping for 10-30 years, just using zip lock and plastic wrap.


you have to understand that hojo's style of tea, which can be popular in its own way, is a very "japanese" perspective. if you look at the tea they have been drinking over the centuries, their storage canisters, processing methods, the japanese fear oxidation. so i'm not surprised when every tea that i had from hojo, even samplers, all contain an oxygen absorber within each pack. purchased teas come semi vacuumed + oxygen absorber.

the merchants here have been using shrink wrap for as long as it has existed. the first time i bought tea myself was in '97, pu-er cakes on the shelf was already shrink wrapped. but for long term storage, it is not super "airy" but some kind of semi-sealed environment, all wrapped in tongs, some in boxes, all stacked onto one another in piles, it becomes a "controlled" environment.
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Re: Aging Puerh.

Postby kyarazen » Jun 28th, '14, 12:20

Puerlife wrote:
Correct me if I'm wrong, but most of the old time collectors in Malaysia and Sing have not been shrink wrapping for 10-30 years, just using zip lock and plastic wrap.


When the temperature changes (a lot?), condensation will form in ziplock bags, or so I was once told, as opposed to this not happening with shrink wrapping or plastic wrap. I suppose here in S.E. Asia the temperature doesn't change that drastically, and it should be easy to check for visually. Sorry, this is my long-winded way to ask if anyone's had a problem with condensation.

Also, how about bubble wrap? The Thai post office sells paper envelopes that are lined with bubble wrap on the inside.


that shouldnt happen to tea in ziplock unless the tea cake contains too much water..

btw was it you whom visit da zi zai tea house in KL recently?
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Re: Aging Puerh.

Postby Puerlife » Jun 28th, '14, 12:55

Yes, that was me. :D What a week it was. Ricky Heng is a very nice guy.
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Re: Aging Puerh.

Postby kyarazen » Jun 28th, '14, 13:03

Puerlife wrote:Yes, that was me. :D What a week it was. Ricky Heng is a very nice guy.


did you pick up any pot from him? lots of factory 1 pots decorate his lovely tea place :D
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Re: Aging Puerh.

Postby puyuan » Jun 28th, '14, 13:14

I'd also like to know how things are at DZZ. I keep track of the facebook updates, some nice pots and quite the bulk of aged tea. I hope he'll sell online eventually. :?
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Re: Aging Puerh.

Postby AllanK » Jun 28th, '14, 20:36

I have decided to conduct an aging experiment. I bought three bings of Spring Dayi Sheng. I will age one in the pumidor in paper, one in the pumidor in shrink wrap, and a third outside the pumidor in a partially sealed zip lock bag. I did not have the cash to buy gushu but perhaps at a later time I will know which method produces the best tea in the New York region. The experiment will start in about ten days when I have the tea.
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Re: Aging Puerh.

Postby Exempt » Jun 28th, '14, 20:47

kyarazen wrote:
Puerlife wrote:
Correct me if I'm wrong, but most of the old time collectors in Malaysia and Sing have not been shrink wrapping for 10-30 years, just using zip lock and plastic wrap.


When the temperature changes (a lot?), condensation will form in ziplock bags, or so I was once told, as opposed to this not happening with shrink wrapping or plastic wrap. I suppose here in S.E. Asia the temperature doesn't change that drastically, and it should be easy to check for visually. Sorry, this is my long-winded way to ask if anyone's had a problem with condensation.

Also, how about bubble wrap? The Thai post office sells paper envelopes that are lined with bubble wrap on the inside.


that shouldnt happen to tea in ziplock unless the tea cake contains too much water..

That's not true, any fairly large swings in temperature or pressure can cause condensation unless the water content in the air is very very very low.
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Re: Aging Puerh.

Postby Puerlife » Jun 28th, '14, 22:45

puyuan wrote:I'd also like to know how things are at DZZ. I keep track of the facebook updates, some nice pots and quite the bulk of aged tea. I hope he'll sell online eventually. :?

kyarazen wrote:
Puerlife wrote:Yes, that was me. :D What a week it was. Ricky Heng is a very nice guy.


did you pick up any pot from him? lots of factory 1 pots decorate his lovely tea place :D


I had just spent a ton of money on tea so I didn't have any left for pots so we didn't talk about pots. It was more like two friends just having tea together. That's the atmosphere. I've only been drinking pu for a year and I think Ricky's shop is aimed at collectors and aficionados who have a good idea of what they want, so although I'm learning fast I wasn't ready to buy. Despite that, he was incredibly approachable, gracious and generous. Before I visit him again I need to read everything on your blog, Kyarazen :) . The December 11 - 15 expo will be held at a shopping center just one LRT stop and a taxi ride from his place. Dayi is going to participate so despite only being only five days, I'm told it's going to be much bigger than the one at the Tropicana.
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Re: Aging Puerh.

Postby kyarazen » Jun 29th, '14, 00:18

Exempt wrote:That's not true, any fairly large swings in temperature or pressure can cause condensation unless the water content in the air is very very very low.


he's asking about south east asia. large temperature swing or pressure doesnt happen here.

even when i resided in the states, or in europe, large swings was not something common.
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