Should tea cakes be all pried into loose leaf for aging?

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

Should tea cakes be all pried into loose leaf for aging?

Postby kyarazen » Jun 28th, '14, 07:39

hello all,
welcoming friendly debates. only intellectual discussions preferred, no mud slinging.

1) compression makes it easy to transport, taking less space
2) compression tea is easily used as currency

but considering all the storage matters that have been fiercely debated, for those doing exposed or pumidored storage, is there a reason not to pry all the cakes into loose leaf to maximize surface area in exposed storage?
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Re: Should tea cakes be all pried into loose leaf for aging?

Postby TomVerlain » Jun 28th, '14, 09:12

yes but fantastically delicious cakes have been stored their whole life as compressed.

Which does not mean that broken up cakes would turn out terribly, but only that history (which is not really repeatable), favors the intact cake.

If it is something I am actively drinking - which may take up to a year or two to finish - I tend to break up to put in container.

Otherwise, they stay as cakes.

I do like loose puerh, both sheng and shu. But loose is not the same as broken up.

Obviously, a broken up cake has much more surface area to oxidize, but time, in this case, is independent of space.
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Re: Should tea cakes be all pried into loose leaf for aging?

Postby bankung » Jun 28th, '14, 13:35


Interesting question. The aging process of puerh tea cake is formed by fermentation and oxidization. Keeping puerh as a cake would normally reduce the oxidation. On the other hand, keeping tea loose would expose the tea with for air thus more oxidation.

However, maocha is another story. It doesn't go through the steaming process used when pressing the cake. I once ask Hojo about his experiment and he said that the maocha would age slower than cakes if kept in vacuum.

In my humble opinion, to age the tea well, one has to balance the fermentation with oxidation to his liking. Some people trust in perfect fermentation without oxidation while some like highly oxidized tea from wet storage. It depends on the personal taste after all.
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Re: Should tea cakes be all pried into loose leaf for aging?

Postby BW85 » Jun 28th, '14, 14:57

From my experience, with sheng in particular, puer does age significantly faster when it's left loose. Possibly twice as fast. I have a 10 year old loose Yiwu that has a lot of the characteristics of a fully mature cake. This tea was aged in very a controlled environment by someone with a lot of experience (not myself)

BUT... It seems as though with the faster aging there are some sacrifices. Mainly a lack of complexity. This tea, and another 10 year old loose sheng I have, are very very tastey, but not as stimulating as 20 year old cakes I've had which seemed to be at the same maturity level.

Tea plants that grow slower will develop more depth and character, perhaps it's the same for aging.

Patience pays off.
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