You say 70% is high and dangerous. Is the Rh in your location above this? Below this? Can you provide us with the numbers for your location? Where I'm at in Northern California outside is supposedly 8.9C (48F) and 71%Rh. Inside is maybe 15C (60F) and 65%Rh. We never
have to worry here about mold growth in the house regardless of the circulation because it is just too cold. But in order for tea to age at all, I will need to raise the temperature and humidity to levels at least remotely close to the numbers in SE Asia.
Thanks for adding to the discussion. I know many value any input and opinions given, and I do think it is good advice to monitor closely while adjusting temp and humidity. I try to remind myself by reading posts from this now-extinct blog often to remind myself of the very points you bring up ...http://thegreenteareview.blogspot.com/2 ... ution.htmlhttp://thegreenteareview.blogspot.com/2 ... pdate.html
and the disaster that ensued ...http://thegreenteareview.blogspot.com/2 ... rn-to.html
In Bangkok during the rain season on really rainy days the humidity can jump up massively. I have no numbers, but believe me - hot and really sticky.
There are of course many factors, but warm temperature is important for Pu Erh aging, and a certain amount of humidity. I tried Kunming stored cakes, and i saw very little change. But when you have high humidity, then of course mold is a worry. So it's a bit of a balancing act.
The reason why i would suggest instead of just a small enclosed space with high humidity a whole room with moderately raised humidity is that you anyhow air a room at least once or twice a day, leading to natural airflow, exchange of air, etc.
I don't think that Pu Erh needs a constant level of high humidity, and high temperature, certain numbers biblicaly adhered to. You said yourself that you need to somehow create a climate somewhat similar to SEA. But don't forget that on occasion here in SEA teas do rot, or get musty in a bad way in sticky places.
Micro climate is very important. I come from Europe, from a city with many old buildings. While generally humidity is quite low it is still though advised if one lives especially in such old buildings to keep bathroom doors open to air them out after a shower to avoid build up of mold in the walls. Mold can happen in low humidity countries as well, in enclosed and badly ventilated spaces.
Many people say that Pu Erh needs to be closed together to age properly, if possible massive amount of cakes, with not much space in between. I am not so sure about that. I have started with a few cakes, and just left them on a shelf for the first years. Only after a few more years i got a few more cakes, and then again a few more. Now i have quite a lot of Pu Erh. But the first few cakes aged by themselves really well.
People say this, and others say the opposite. Suddenly this way gets fashionable, and then something completely different again.
There is a school of though as well that says that Pu Erh needs seasons, as it needs dormant periods as well, and that it is actually conductive to also expose Pu Erh to the natural climate instead of keeping it in artificially created climates. I kind of believe that this makes a lot of sense. But what do i know?
The only thing i can say is that aging Pu Erh isn't really exact science. A few quite clear factors all agree upon: relatively high humidity and temperature accelerates the aging process. To much can destroy the tea.
Less humidity and temperature slows the process, too little can destroy it as well.
And in between is a large room for experimentation.
A thing i notice here in this forum is that a lot of numbers are always thrown around - exact temperature of the water, exact weight of leaves, exact volume of pots. And now exact percentage of humidity, exact this and that.
Would you believe me that i live entirely without scales, without barometer, without thermometer (actually - the first thermometer in my life i bought when my son had a high fever, a few years ago, when he was a baby)? I still live, and my tea is very nice
I was told by my teacher, when i first started getting into Pu Erh more than ten years ago to just keep it on a shelf, well ventilated, away from direct sunlight, away from kitchen smells, and not to worry too much. Which i didn't. And it worked out fine.
Of course in a drier climate almost the opposite factors have to be dealt with than here. I still though wouldn't worry too much, especially not about exact numbers.