Chip wrote:Just as differing methodology of making so many teas out there (sheng versus shu, steamed versus "fried" greens, etc.), is it not a valid argument that the production or more precisely the aging of pu-erh can be done different ways in order to achieve differing results ... as long as the methodology is well documented ... which is a huge problem given the extended aging and the passing of teas from one person to the next to the next, etc. It becomes seemingly impossible given all the possible variables involved.
Relative descriptions of wetter or drier storage can be helpful in terms of getting a general sense of a tea's storage, but as you say, there are so many variables, and the tea may change locations or change hands multiple times. In both good and bad ways, in some ways, storage is
the taste of puer. When tasting it, you are trying to assess the entire story of the tea's life since it left the factory.
It's not only the area and weather where the tea was stored, but the presence / absence of temperature and humidity controls, the relative location in the building and in the room, and so on and so on. There may be some cases where the storage is designed to achieve a particular result, but more often than not, the tea is just sitting in whatever warehouse the tea vendor happens to have in whatever area they happen to be located in. While vendors probably think about it more than they used to, I think in many cases, it's more haphazard than you'd think.
I think folks should also note that there are some other things in terms of how the tea is prepped and how it's brewed that make a huge difference in the taste. Even tea that has some kind of funky storage tastes when you first encounter it can be brushed off, broken up, and aired out for a while, and in many cases, a lot of the "storage" taste will recede. I've even seen people pick off the mold from fairly wet-stored cakes (and brew it separately :>). You do often lose some complexity of flavor and brewing durability with the wetter stored stuff.
But I've had some teas with very wet (though probably not intentionally so) storage which really give me a bad feeling, taste horrible, or have an "off" flavor that won't go away; in many cases, that might be a result of what Cloud would probably call "improper" storage rather than just heavy wet storage.
I think with time and experience, you can develop a sense of where a particular tea fits into your personal preferences, but you really have to look at and taste the tea for yourself -- even if you know how someone else's scale of "dry" to "wet" is "calibrated". I will not be one of those people to say that the qi
is the only thing that's important, not the taste, but I do think it's important to take notice if a particular tea repeatedly gives you a particularly good or bad feeling.