Storage is a Crock

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


Sep 10th, '16, 15:16
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Storage is a Crock

by whatsinaname » Sep 10th, '16, 15:16

Cwyn makes a convincing argument for the positive outcomes of crock storage for puerh tea. It makes the most sense from a food-biology perspective. I think it will work here in New England.

Pros and cons of a collection of crocks versus a glass cabinet pumidor? I think both can be used to maintain heat and humidity.

I am considering how to convert my ~120 cake collection over to crock storage without having to take out a second mortgage to buy pottery.

My first phase will be to ramp up the heat and humidity to try to re-kick-start the fermentation process. I am wondering if short blasts from an ultrasonic humidifier over the course of many days would do it. I recall a trick of a fish tank heater in a jug of water for both heat and humidity.

I recall a few of the experienced tea hoarders have mentioned receiving very dry stored cakes and trying to revive them in more humid climate storage. Don't think I've heard any specific outcomes of such circumstances.

Any advice for bringing puerh back from the dead?

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Sep 10th, '16, 16:09
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Re: Storage is a Crock

by jayinhk » Sep 10th, '16, 16:09

Yes, you can potentially make your tea mold by overdoing the humidity. Proceed with caution! Temperature is very important, but so is the right humidity level.

Sep 10th, '16, 20:13
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Re: Storage is a Crock

by mr mopu » Sep 10th, '16, 20:13

Don't let the humidity go too high. There is another option, just ship it to mrmopar for pumidor storage. minus a small fee for said storage..

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Sep 11th, '16, 04:50
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Re: Storage is a Crock

by kuánglóng » Sep 11th, '16, 04:50

If these were my cakes I'd weigh them first, one by one and note their individual weights somewhere on the wrapper or somewhere else. Before I'd start adding moisture, one way or another, I'd determine the residual moisture in some cakes - can be done pretty easily with a cheap digital scale - Kyarazen and I have described basically the same process a while ago. There's another thread somewhere on how far you can go with the residual moisture of your cakes without risking mold, somewhere short of 12% - but you'd have to be very careful with your remoisturizing since depending on the level of compression (loosely stone pressed vs. iron cakes or i.e. Xiaguan tuo chas) it takes quite a bit of time for any added moisture to be distributed somewhat evenly throughout each cake and you don't want to exceed that critical level anywhere locally, most likely somewhere on the surface.
I've been revitalizing precious old pipe tobaccos long before I started collecting bings and keep most of my pu's at about 8% RM max., some greener shengs and my bai cha bings even lower and haven't had any issues with mold, sourness etc.. ever but I take my time, don't rush anything and my bings mature just fine in their individual multilayer bags without losing too much of their volatiles as in some other forms of storage.
Happy experimenting.

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Sep 13th, '16, 02:59
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Re: Storage is a Crock

by Rui » Sep 13th, '16, 02:59

mr mopu wrote:Don't let the humidity go too high. There is another option, just ship it to mrmopar for pumidor storage. minus a small fee for said storage..
That is an excellent service you provide Mr. Mopu. As part of the storage facilities you should also charge for the occasional sampling of the teas in storage to ensure they are doing well. :lol:

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Sep 13th, '16, 04:19
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Re: Storage is a Crock

by kyarazen » Sep 13th, '16, 04:19

whatsinaname wrote:Cwyn makes a convincing argument for the positive outcomes of crock storage for puerh tea. It makes the most sense from a food-biology perspective. I think it will work here in New England.

Pros and cons of a collection of crocks versus a glass cabinet pumidor? I think both can be used to maintain heat and humidity.

I am considering how to convert my ~120 cake collection over to crock storage without having to take out a second mortgage to buy pottery.

My first phase will be to ramp up the heat and humidity to try to re-kick-start the fermentation process. I am wondering if short blasts from an ultrasonic humidifier over the course of many days would do it. I recall a trick of a fish tank heater in a jug of water for both heat and humidity.

I recall a few of the experienced tea hoarders have mentioned receiving very dry stored cakes and trying to revive them in more humid climate storage. Don't think I've heard any specific outcomes of such circumstances.

Any advice for bringing puerh back from the dead?
you've to look beyond humidity.. because humidity = amount of water in the surrounding air...

the important aspect of fermentation is the amount of water within the cake.

crock storage is just like keeping the environment constant within a some what "closed" ceramic vessel, albeit like a sealed system. whereas a pumidor is vented,

Sep 13th, '16, 10:58
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Re: Storage is a Crock

by Haddemall » Sep 13th, '16, 10:58

Interesting but how much humidity is too much ? I keep my cakes at slightly below 60 per cent.

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Sep 13th, '16, 13:24
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Re: Storage is a Crock

by Drax » Sep 13th, '16, 13:24

Haddemall wrote:Interesting but how much humidity is too much ? I keep my cakes at slightly below 60 per cent.
It depends on the temperature, but I start getting nervous by 80%. I keep mine around 70%.

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Sep 13th, '16, 15:00
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Re: Storage is a Crock

by kyarazen » Sep 13th, '16, 15:00

Haddemall wrote:Interesting but how much humidity is too much ? I keep my cakes at slightly below 60 per cent.
i'm still collecting data :D still performing experiments on my moisture analyzer.. lets see if i can finish up the experiments by tomorrow to give a conclusion.. :)

Sep 13th, '16, 20:35
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Re: Storage is a Crock

by mr mopu » Sep 13th, '16, 20:35

Drax wrote:
Haddemall wrote:Interesting but how much humidity is too much ? I keep my cakes at slightly below 60 per cent.
It depends on the temperature, but I start getting nervous by 80%. I keep mine around 70%.
I echo the 70%. Ithink it is a 'safe' level. Anything much higher and I worry.

Sep 13th, '16, 21:18
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Re: Storage is a Crock

by Cwyn » Sep 13th, '16, 21:18

120 cakes is an impressive collection. You didn't say what size your cakes are, in general. Numbers of 200g or 500g honkers certainly affect the number of crocks needed. Brick teas and tongs wrapped in bamboo take up a lot of space. My 10 gallon crock holds about 40 cakes of varying sizes with a tong of brick tea tossed in too.

If you are interested in 10 gallon, Ohio Stoneware is a good one to consider with a ship-to-store pickup order. In this way you don't pay shipping. Right now, Sears has the 10 gallon size on sale for about $83. No way will you find vintage for less than twice this price. Ace Hardware and True Value aren't offering the 10 gallon at the moment but do have the 5 gallon size. Look around for lids elsewhere or make your own wood lid, the hardware stores are overcharging for lids. RedHill General Store online is less expensive for the crock lids.

A downside to the 10 gallon is if you wish to retrieve a cake from the bottom you have to take all the others out. A huge crock is great for tea you don't plan on drinking for a number of years. You can add moisture by wiping the underside of the lid with a damp cloth once a week or so. Leave the lid off in humid warm weather. 5 gallon crocks will hold a stack of cakes.

The pumidor has its uses for teas you want to drink regularly, without the need to dig too far in.

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Sep 14th, '16, 09:55
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Re: Storage is a Crock

by jayinhk » Sep 14th, '16, 09:55

My storage (in summer) goes up and down between 60-100%. I run the air conditioner at night, but for most of the day my room is 25-30 Celsius. In winter, temperatures vary between 7 and 18 degrees Celsius on most days, and humidity varies widely from 40%-100%. I guess the glass cabinet I use has somewhat of an insulating effect on the temperature/humidity swings though. Another way you'll know if the humidity is too high is if the aroma of your tea seems to have dropped considerably--when my pu erh is too humid, it isn't much fun to drink, either! I don't get any mold, aside from one brick of fu zhuan that gets golden flower blooms!

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Sep 17th, '16, 17:34
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Re: Storage is a Crock

by stevorama » Sep 17th, '16, 17:34

Slightly off topic. Curious about opinions of storage in paper bags or cardboard boxes. Some say it imparts unwanted aroma and is not good. Yet cakes are wrapped in paper (possibly with smelly printing.) And tongs or tuos are sometimes wrapped in heavier paper (Dayi.) And then packed in boxes by the manufacturer. Which might then be stored long term by suppliers. So it seems the industry might accept the use of paper and cardboard.

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Sep 18th, '16, 17:13
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Re: Storage is a Crock

by stevorama » Sep 18th, '16, 17:13

So I see a good cardboard discussion here: http://www.teachat.com/viewtopic.php?f= ... rd#p288708

I'm still curious why heavy kraft-type paper and cardboard is used for packaging by some tea manufacturers, but at the same time there is some concern among end-users about packaging in cardboard or heavy paper. Thoughts?

Oct 14th, '16, 04:35
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Re: Storage is a Crock

by Cwyn » Oct 14th, '16, 04:35

I arrived at crock storage from cardboard failure. I stored puerh teas for four years in a cardboard box with a bowl of water, based on advice I found online. Four years later I had flat, too dry tea that tasted like cardboard. I was able to air out the cardboard but the lost flavor and fragrance did not recover.

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