Monday, August 26, 2013

To Age or Not to Age?

Boy, Puerh is getting expensive! Buying, storing and aging yourself seems like the best option. There's lots of information in blogs, forums and even vendor sites that give helpful guidelines on what defines a proper storage. I’ve also found instructions on how to make artificial environments to mimic the definitions of a proper storage. It seems like all you need to get started, but lots of people still fail at it. Why?.

wet stored cake piece -displays 'frost and 'musty' scent
Like all things in life, if you want to be able to try something new you need guidelines, but more importantly to find out if you are up to the challenge. Puerh aging is like baking, everyone loves to eat baked goods… not everyone is willing to put the effort in to it. It requires a lot effort and at first, you may end up with an undesired result. 

The most important thing in my opinion is to define and set your goals, store vs. age. Storing is a shorter term thing, 1 or 2 years is basic storage; basically, the tea that you put away until are done with your previous ones. While aging is long term storage, you are expecting to allow the tea to change and even improve over time, but this usually takes a several more years (usually 5-10). How long can you keep your hands off your Puerh? I feel this is where people actually fail. Most people get impatient with tea, want to see results fast and either end up 'checking'(a.k.a. drinking) all their tea or trying to accelerate the process(wet storage).

Choose your favorites to age - Mixing too many teas is not advised due to 'cross-contamination' (scents)
It takes a reasonable amount of time to determine the effects/results of your storage settings. Puerh usually doesn’t show much change in a one to two year span; usually when it does it means bad news. I learned which storage condition benefited me, by buying several cheap cakes and storing them in different conditions (exposed, in clay pots and in a cabinet). I continuously rotated them and periodically checked them (every six to 8 months).  As time passed I learned which storage condition benefits me in my home. 
keep scented tea away from others

Keep in mind, No storage recommendation is absolutely 'the best' for all situations; it depends a lot in your environment. Be willing to experiment, find out which type of storage works for you. At the end the sacrifice may save your real investment. Keep in mind if your environment is hot/cold, dry/humid and how you’ll deal with airflow. If your environment is inconsistent you may want to consider creating an artificial environment, rather than taking chances with your Puerh.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

First awkward step

This is my attempt at blogging. I thought it would be a good idea to make my first post an introduction to myself, not at as personal introduction but rather about my interests. Interests, that perhaps will develop into more clear goals as I continue to expose thoughts on topics, get feedback and learn how to handle the new learning process.

If I were to define a current goal for this blog it would be to make sure it isn’t a rant spot for myself or a review site. Rather, I want to be able to express my thoughts regarding defined topics, mainly but not solely regarding tea. Hopefully, this will be a step to make friends with similar interests and to engage in great conversations and even debates! I mean, what is the point of exposing your thoughts if no one will ever contradict them? How can you learn more, correct and be corrected, if we hide behind curtains of ignorance.
I want to fill in gaps in what I currently consider ‘knowledge’; and perhaps redefine it as ignorance to challenge myself to learn most I can from this Blog. And hopefully you will do so as well. 

Another, and very important goal for me is… neutrality. I can’t even explain this part without slightly slipping away from the previous ‘no rants’ stance, but I’ll give it a try. The more I want to learn about tea the more I find myself constricted or even restricted to a few limited sources of information. I’ve visited several blogs and forums seeking for knowledge, just to satisfy my curiosity and indulge in self-gratification. But more often than not, I find a battle between groups who want to wear a title, as if there was a title for loving tea more than others. I feel like a lot of these sources are reliable sources of information, but you have to skim through

the specks and sometimes mounds of hatred towards their ‘competition’. Again, I’m not sure what they compete for. I wish I could stand in the middle and yell: ‘Ladies! Gentlemen! Is it not ignorance the ultimate enemy here? Why battle sources of knowledge rather than work towards higher knowledge?’ But just as a physical battleground… I might just be a target standing in the middle of the fire range. 
In the end, I hope that once people start reading. They will feel welcome; free to comment, add, criticize or just make conversation that leads to new topics. Hope to hear from you, and hey… this wasn’t even as awkward as I expected it to be.