Humidity for Aging Puerh


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

Re: Humidity for Aging Puerh

Postby tst » Jul 25th, '13, 14:58

Exactly right Cat. People in SE Asia don't seem to realize this. For instance, yesterday I opened up my storage to fill up my water supply. It was sitting at a comfortable ~76F and ~68%Rh. Within 5 minutes of opening the door it was at ~56% Rh and still dropping.

Gas, my fish tank heater has seemed to keep my storage warm enough during past winter months. However, maybe adding a couple CPU fans to circulate the air will bring the temp up a little (has so far for me this summer). Otherwise, maybe an additional heater in your water reservoir?
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Re: Humidity for Aging Puerh

Postby gasninja » Jul 25th, '13, 22:54

ChengduCha wrote:Just let it age without any humidity maniputlation unless you live somewhere really dry, as desert humidity doesn't lend itself too well for aging from what I've read so far.

Dry storage in Kunming, Yunnan, which has gained a good rep in China, averages at a relative humidity of about 60 at a temperature of about 20°C on average.

Most Kunming stored tea sucks. Have you had any tea that has been stored in Kunming for for over ten years? It does not age . The whole point of storing puerh is that its supposed to get better with age. If your conditions are to dry It does not age. becomes overly dry and developes a general harsh feel to it. I think that more vendors in Kunming might be wising up and improving there storage methods. I think Malaysia is a better place to point to for dry storage.
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Re: Humidity for Aging Puerh

Postby shah82 » Jul 25th, '13, 23:01

Outside of a light bit of warehousing to give newborn tea a head start, I think the focus on humidity beyond making sure your tea doesn't die is not worth the risks. It has been my impression for awhile that much in the way of aged tea that has impressed Westerners with depth and feeling (from the '90s in particular) was simply not-especially-good tea that needed a great deal of humidity to render palatability. The majority of such tea are fairly dull in taste and feel, with a bit of inspired moments. They also tend to cost a lot when they don't offer much more value than a decent shu. I think the better the tea, the less humidity you need to have if your sole goal is removing bitterness and astringency. I also think that there are no shortcuts when it comes to the necessary time it takes to be a really nice aged tea. The focus should entirely be making sure your setup gives what you think is the minimum amount of humidity, with the minimum amount of care and attention, since we're really talking a decade or two for that nicer deep aged taste.
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Re: Humidity for Aging Puerh

Postby Exempt » Jul 25th, '13, 23:08

shah82 wrote:Outside of a light bit of warehousing to give newborn tea a head start, I think the focus on humidity beyond making sure your tea doesn't die is not worth the risks. It has been my impression for awhile that much in the way of aged tea that has impressed Westerners with depth and feeling (from the '90s in particular) was simply not-especially-good tea that needed a great deal of humidity to render palatability. The majority of such tea are fairly dull in taste and feel, with a bit of inspired moments. They also tend to cost a lot when they don't offer much more value than a decent shu. I think the better the tea, the less humidity you need to have if your sole goal is removing bitterness and astringency. I also think that there are no shortcuts when it comes to the necessary time it takes to be a really nice aged tea. The focus should entirely be making sure your setup gives what you think is the minimum amount of humidity, with the minimum amount of care and attention, since we're really talking a decade or two for that nicer deep aged taste.

I'd be afraid to end up with all my tea really sour
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Re: Humidity for Aging Puerh

Postby TIM » Jul 25th, '13, 23:10

shah82 wrote:Outside of a light bit of warehousing to give newborn tea a head start, I think the focus on humidity beyond making sure your tea doesn't die is not worth the risks. It has been my impression for awhile that much in the way of aged tea that has impressed Westerners with depth and feeling (from the '90s in particular) was simply not-especially-good tea that needed a great deal of humidity to render palatability. The majority of such tea are fairly dull in taste and feel, with a bit of inspired moments. They also tend to cost a lot when they don't offer much more value than a decent shu. I think the better the tea, the less humidity you need to have if your sole goal is removing bitterness and astringency. I also think that there are no shortcuts when it comes to the necessary time it takes to be a really nice aged tea. The focus should entirely be making sure your setup gives what you think is the minimum amount of humidity, with the minimum amount of care and attention, since we're really talking a decade or two for that nicer deep aged taste.


+1 finally Shah82 :)
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Re: Humidity for Aging Puerh

Postby Exempt » Jul 25th, '13, 23:17

TIM wrote:
shah82 wrote:Outside of a light bit of warehousing to give newborn tea a head start, I think the focus on humidity beyond making sure your tea doesn't die is not worth the risks. It has been my impression for awhile that much in the way of aged tea that has impressed Westerners with depth and feeling (from the '90s in particular) was simply not-especially-good tea that needed a great deal of humidity to render palatability. The majority of such tea are fairly dull in taste and feel, with a bit of inspired moments. They also tend to cost a lot when they don't offer much more value than a decent shu. I think the better the tea, the less humidity you need to have if your sole goal is removing bitterness and astringency. I also think that there are no shortcuts when it comes to the necessary time it takes to be a really nice aged tea. The focus should entirely be making sure your setup gives what you think is the minimum amount of humidity, with the minimum amount of care and attention, since we're really talking a decade or two for that nicer deep aged taste.


+1 finally Shah82 :)

You don't think that having a temp and humidity lower than 20c 70%rh would ruin puerh in the long run?
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Re: Humidity for Aging Puerh

Postby shah82 » Jul 25th, '13, 23:20

Gasninja, I've been drinking a lot of bad old tea of various heritages. Frankly, nine years of Kunming storage and two years of Atlanta storage has given me a Tai Lian that can have a more mature aged taste and feel than a Malaysian stored Dayi Big Green Tree of the same age. Or various products from Best Tea House like the Nannuo white tips or 2003 Shuangjiang Mengku Wild Tree. It really does depend on what the actual production quality and how it was stored, more than the actual location, I believe. Ten years ago Kunming was far away from people who were seriously into drinking and aging puerh, and most of the things I see for sale as Kunming stored are really rather pedestrian stuff. The better stuff, like Evening Fragrant Jade from 1998, is much deeper tasting and about as comfortable to drink as the Hong Kong dry stored Fengqing green cake from 1997. The bad stuff will taste bad and harsh no matter where you tried to store it. I also think that many items in the early 2k's were poorly processed, big factory and small.
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Re: Humidity for Aging Puerh

Postby TIM » Jul 25th, '13, 23:24

Exempt wrote:
TIM wrote:
shah82 wrote:Outside of a light bit of warehousing to give newborn tea a head start, I think the focus on humidity beyond making sure your tea doesn't die is not worth the risks. It has been my impression for awhile that much in the way of aged tea that has impressed Westerners with depth and feeling (from the '90s in particular) was simply not-especially-good tea that needed a great deal of humidity to render palatability. The majority of such tea are fairly dull in taste and feel, with a bit of inspired moments. They also tend to cost a lot when they don't offer much more value than a decent shu. I think the better the tea, the less humidity you need to have if your sole goal is removing bitterness and astringency. I also think that there are no shortcuts when it comes to the necessary time it takes to be a really nice aged tea. The focus should entirely be making sure your setup gives what you think is the minimum amount of humidity, with the minimum amount of care and attention, since we're really talking a decade or two for that nicer deep aged taste.


+1 finally Shah82 :)

You don't think that having a temp and humidity lower than 20c 70%rh would ruin puerh in the long run?


To my knowledge of aging sheung since 2004, no.
Adding air flow, humidor beads and high heat could be worst.
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Re: Humidity for Aging Puerh

Postby Exempt » Jul 25th, '13, 23:28

TIM wrote:
Exempt wrote:
TIM wrote:
shah82 wrote:Outside of a light bit of warehousing to give newborn tea a head start, I think the focus on humidity beyond making sure your tea doesn't die is not worth the risks. It has been my impression for awhile that much in the way of aged tea that has impressed Westerners with depth and feeling (from the '90s in particular) was simply not-especially-good tea that needed a great deal of humidity to render palatability. The majority of such tea are fairly dull in taste and feel, with a bit of inspired moments. They also tend to cost a lot when they don't offer much more value than a decent shu. I think the better the tea, the less humidity you need to have if your sole goal is removing bitterness and astringency. I also think that there are no shortcuts when it comes to the necessary time it takes to be a really nice aged tea. The focus should entirely be making sure your setup gives what you think is the minimum amount of humidity, with the minimum amount of care and attention, since we're really talking a decade or two for that nicer deep aged taste.


+1 finally Shah82 :)

You don't think that having a temp and humidity lower than 20c 70%rh would ruin puerh in the long run?


To my knowledge of aging sheung since 2004, no.
Adding air flow, humidor beads and high heat could be worst.

What setup do you use? I have seen your refined aging method where you add humidity with tong wrappers. Are all of your teas stored in airtight bins at room temperature and 70ish percent humidity?

Also I got rid of the computer fan , I don't mess with temperature, and I got the aristocrat humidifier listeningtoleaves and Drax use to replace the humidity beads.
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Re: Humidity for Aging Puerh

Postby Tead Off » Jul 25th, '13, 23:50

tst wrote:Exactly right Cat. People in SE Asia don't seem to realize this. For instance, yesterday I opened up my storage to fill up my water supply. It was sitting at a comfortable ~76F and ~68%Rh. Within 5 minutes of opening the door it was at ~56% Rh and still dropping.


For the last couple of days, the temp in my place here in Bangkok has hovered between 28-31c (85-86f) with RH of 59-62%. It is rainy season but there seems to be a lot of wind keeping the humidity lower. While it is often much hotter here, the humidity can vary wildly depending on amount of sunshine and stillness.

SE Asia is a big place with varying micro-climates. Even in Bangkok, there are places much wetter than others. With Kunming cakes, you can almost be assured that the storage has not been a negative factor in the sense of having a too wet environment that can ruin a cake.

If we talk of aging, and what that means, there will be different preferences amongst drinkers. As Shah pointed out, the most important factors are the change of bitterness and astringency, not the introduction of high humidity to further an intense fermentation that winds up tasting like mildew which some drinkers have fondly grown to love. But, I think there is also the protection of flavor and aroma in a cake over time. This is a major reason to store cakes in sealed food grade plastic to minimize this loss and protect them from exterior pollutants.
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Re: Humidity for Aging Puerh

Postby TIM » Jul 25th, '13, 23:51

You should really experience it yourself. Learn from other hobbies which involve aging eg: wine, cheese, meat and cigar. I'm lucky enough to get into cigar aging for over 20 years and I did learn a lot from the art. I'm enjoying 10 to 15 years aged cigars from the collection, and it won't run out once you continue to collect and rotate.

Correct me if I'm wrong, you still in the beginning of collecting cakes but not tongs? So you might ended up with 3 or 4 sour cake in 3 to 4 years using the experimental method. Learn from it and choose something more time proof and invest on a larger collection. Aging a few pieces won't do anything in the long run. Microclimate is the key IMO.

Good luck and enjoy the journey. T
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Re: Humidity for Aging Puerh

Postby Exempt » Jul 26th, '13, 00:11

TIM wrote:Correct me if I'm wrong, you still in the beginning of collecting cakes but not tongs? So you might ended up with 3 or 4 sour cake in 3 to 4 years using the experimental method. Learn from it and choose something more time proof and invest on a larger collection. Aging a few pieces won't do anything in the long run. Microclimate is the key IMO.

Good luck and enjoy the journey. T

I believe I have somewhere between 35-55 beengs/tuochas with some of them being duplicates. It is correct that I have not purchased any tongs as of yet. I have been working on my "aging" method for about a year and I will definitely continue to taste and experiment so I can, eventually, get a large collection going.
Thanks for the advice TIM
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Re: Humidity for Aging Puerh

Postby yanom » Jul 26th, '13, 04:39

Climate is irrelevant if you're storing the stuff indoors and you have heating or air conditioning.

I've given up expecting to successfully age young tea in the UK because indoors in the summer I'm looking at 20 degrees and 55% RH, and in the winter 20 degrees and 35% RH. I'm not going to get a super-serious pumidor setup. So I don't buy normally young stuff any more.

Also: Tead Off: I'm not sure what your point is when you say that RH is around 60% in BK. The temperature is around 30! Your 60% RH and 30 degrees will mean tea matures faster than my 55% at 20 degrees, no?
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Re: Humidity for Aging Puerh

Postby Tead Off » Jul 26th, '13, 09:23

yanom wrote:Climate is irrelevant if you're storing the stuff indoors and you have heating or air conditioning.

I've given up expecting to successfully age young tea in the UK because indoors in the summer I'm looking at 20 degrees and 55% RH, and in the winter 20 degrees and 35% RH. I'm not going to get a super-serious pumidor setup. So I don't buy normally young stuff any more.

Also: Tead Off: I'm not sure what your point is when you say that RH is around 60% in BK. The temperature is around 30! Your 60% RH and 30 degrees will mean tea matures faster than my 55% at 20 degrees, no?

Yes, it will accelerate the storage. I was just giving people an idea of the conditions here in BKK, being in SE Asia. Something to compare their own climates to as this climate is considered very good for storing puerh. It's not always high humidity here but almost always high temp.
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Re: Humidity for Aging Puerh

Postby yanom » Jul 26th, '13, 10:12

Ah I see, yep that makes sense. I think these threads can turn into people talking at cross-purposes because there are some people who prefer their tea drier than others and can't see what all the fuss is about. And people like me who prefer it a bit wetter and have had to give up on hoping young stuff I own will turn out drinkable.
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