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.

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