shogun89 wrote:I read this in the CHA DAO article that Salsero kindly provided us with.
Storage aging without refinement can prolong the aging process. Raw-cake storage in NY can take up 3 to 4 times longer than aging in Hong Kong. The main hazard period for tea here is wintertime. The humidity can drop to 20-30% if you have a heater. This critical four-month period is always my concern. Being too dry will certainly hurt your tea, if not "kill" them. If this period of dryness continues more than 6 months, the tea will be in serious hibernation: a long sleep, from which they might never wake.
I have previously discussed the topic of tea aging, dividing it up into three major maturation periods:
First Maturation: around 5 years
Second Maturation: 15-25 years
Third Maturation: 50 years and up
If it is a newly-harvested puerh, the first five years is fine, even if it's stored in a prolonged (5 months) dry climate. But the effect might be a less lively brew, or the taste might not be as promising as the aroma.
If this is prolonged to the second period of 5 to 10 years of continuous dryness, lower than 50% humidity, the tea will be permanently affected.
If tea is in its second period of aging, and was kept in a pretty fine first period, it will continue to develop excellent characteristics which might not be detected in the first period. But if the storage condition deteriorates, then all the work will be spoiled. I have tasted good mature tea in its second stage which was stored badly; the taste came to a standstill as of a 10 to 15 years aged tea, but without life or youth. Many vendors try other ways to make badly-stored tea alive by introducing wet/dry storage depending where the tea stands, for a short period of time, and then to resell them. That could be a desperate attempt which will add only the first few brews with a better soup, but after the couple of brews, the falsity cannot be hidden.
I'd like to read that, can you provide a link?
The thing to keep in mind is that there is really no objective data about puerh storage or aging. There are as many opinions and experiences as there are experts and puerh drinkers. It will also depend on what one expects/prefers. I've seen people say that even a short period of wet storage will irreversibly change puerh (in a negative way), and those from Hong Kong or Taiwan consider dry stored puerh to be no good. I've even seen it said that "dry storage" was an idea cooked up by vendors to sell puerh to those afraid that it will just go bad in their home. Some have even speculated that extended dry periods (by season) may be crucial to good storage.
There's also no real data on how or why puerh ages, even less so on storage in the US. So there's no real objective reference that we can look at and definitively say that it will or won't do well in various conditions. There's so much ambiguity that while it is worth noting that some believe that storing below 50-60% for an extended period could "ruin" a piece, it's dangerous to speak definitively about what will
or will not
happen. There are just so many other potential variables involved that without testing and study in a controlled environment it's impossible to say much for sure (other than that higher humidity environments age puerh faster).
I am very interested to read the article, however