One of the intentionally aged teas, Pu-Erh has a loyal following.
Thanks for your explanation.Intuit wrote:Alternate interpretation: .....
Share two interesting things (one Chinese term and one experiment) related to microbial fermentation.
First. Pu-Erh "喜熱鬧" (xǐ rè nào; love thronged). This is well known to many Pu-Erh collectors that same type of Pu-Erh are stored together (Shu with Shu and Sheng with Sheng, and with similar age) and they age better than those stored separately. I think this is related to inoculate transfer that you mentioned but across bricks/cakes. And there may be a stimulating effect when Pu-Erh bricks/cakes are stored in group.
Cloud mentioned this effect in his article, Storage (1) - Principles & Cardboard Box (4th paragraph from the last):
By experiences, Puerh tea of the same kind is good to be stored together. The more you put together (the same kind), the better the aging quality will be. Since the aging prerequisites of the same batch of tea are identical (fragrances, flavors and tastes), it will be the most ideal way to fill all of them into a single cardboard box.
Second. A guy (mychen) did an interesting experiment using Gama ray on Pu-Erh cakes and see if there is any effect on aging process. I came across this post (in Chinese ) on Tea for You (T4U), a great tea forum (only in Chinese, unfortunately) and I was fascinated by this experiment. BTW, this thread was about fungi on Pu-Erh and it was a very good read. If you are interested (and don't mind reading bad translation), here is babelfish translated version (of the thread) and this post is on page 7 (building 65).
Here is a brief/rough translation of that post.
==== begin of translation ====
I (mychen) did the experiment in 2003 using a total of 29 1997's 7542 Sheng cakes, 4 tongs plus 1 cake. The price of tea was cheap [at that time] and there were sponsors.
Tea cakes were divided into 4 groups:
- Group 1 (G1): control group: 7 cakes and cake did not break apart
- Group 2 (G2): 7 cakes (not broken apart) and applied 3 kGy of Gamma ray
- Group 3 (G3): 7 cakes (not broken apart) and applied 20 kGy of Gamma ray
- Group 4 (G4): one regular cake (didn't apply with Gamma ray) and 7 cakes applied with Gamma ray; all cakes are broken apart and well mixed. (Note from cha-fu: mychen mentioned 1:5 ratio of mixing regular cake and Gamma rayed ones, but this could be a typo; also, mychen didn't mention the strength of Gammy ray used in this group)
(Gamma ray can damage microbes and enzyme in the cell.)
At the end of 2007, samples were taken from each group for comparison:
- Aging process: G1 > G4 > G2 > G3
- Taste: G1 > G4 > G2 >>>> G3 (G3 is far worse than G4/G2)
- G3 tasted about the same as in 2003
- 2004: G1 > G4 > G2 = G3 (where G3 = 0)
- 2007: G1 = G4 > G2 = G3 (where G3 = 0)
This was my personal experiment. Why? Nothing in particular. Just I like to drink Pu-Erh and want to explain/study aging/changing using scientific theory/method. I happened to have material and equipment for this experiment.
I got the idea of this experiment after drinking a mix of black (red) tea and 1973 thick brick. Wanted to find out if there were some ways to speed up aging/changing process. Wonder anything interesting would happen if I remove microbes from young tea and transfer microbes from aged tea [to young tea]. This experiment is still on-going. I also separated microbes from different aged tea. Still figuring out how to use and combine collected microbes.
==== end of translation ====
The description of this experiment is fascinating, even though many details (of this experiment) were not mentioned in the post, such as storage environment, brewing method, taste method (by one person or a group of people; blind taste), etc. I have more questions and stronger curiosity on how aging/changing process works after reading this thread.
Hope you find this experiment interesting.