Monday, July 16, 2012

Puerh Storage Jars

Storage of Puerh - what a topic, right? If there would be a statistic, which define most discussed topic betwen tea people, the storage of puerh surely is going to be on the top. So what can I, still bigginer here, add? Not much, just a few thoughts and experiences... Nevertheless, I look forward to hear any thoughts and practices of my readers - thoughts and experiences about what I am going to present here as well as about storage generally.
I made my first "cake jars" in autumn 2009. Those two jars were originally made for my customer, but I have used unsuitable clay and cracks on bottoms, which have shown after firing, made those jars unsellable. Thanks to this, I can see now, after two and half years, how cakes are doing in those jars... so far, they smell and taste great. I store there cakes from first LongFeng production (spring teas from 2009). No jar will make a magic here. My too dry and cold storage conditions are successful decelerators of aging. But jars protect tea from dust and smells. And more importantly, they helps to create microclime as well as reduce drying out essential oils from leaves. On the picture below you can see color of Purple Lable (leaves shoudl be from old threes from Ai Lao)
Leaves are darker and whole profile sligltly "ripen"...


As time went on, more and more tea loves asked me to make storege jars for them. And also my stock ( I do not fell like collector yet:)) has been growing. I started make bigger jars, basicaly in two sizes. For 400-500g cakes and for 200-250g ones. Into one bigger jar you can put 10-11 cakes. It means between 4-5kg of tea.

This information can give a notion about to what kind of puerh drinker is it for. When one starts, having cake or two, sampling around, then just love for ceramic can make him think about buying such piece. On the other hand, if you buy cakes mostly in tongs, continuously for years, then you can welcome it as a sample box. Yes, there are puehr fans who build their houses from tea or, at least, fill their flats to roof... but I believe that most of us just buy cake here, brick  there. And despite of fact that we know that we are not living in the best areas for aging tea, we can not help ourselves and we buy more then we drink right now. That is why I find those jars convenient for me. My mixture of different cakes, touchas and bricks looks much more happy in several ceramic jars then laying in shelves.

but there are shapes and sizes which are not easy to fit...
I was never in fever to buy and stock a lot of  young tea in order to safe money and get some great aged tea after 20-30 years. I always prefer to pick variety of teas in sense of years, styles, areas...And ENJOY IT NOW! I have learn to buy teas for what they are now, not for future, dreamy brew.

Dry vs Wet

I have (or had) very pleasant dry stored teas as well as wet, or traditional stored teas. I am not afraid of moisture (I can recomment to read and think about "sharp" Marshal's post here). But I am not afraid of dry or natural storage either. Recently I have two - three samples from around 2000 and I would love to have cake or two from each of them. All were obviously dry stored - green leaves, smell and color of first breaves say that. One of them was stored in Taiwan, one in Kunming. Complexity of the taste make me wonder - would it be any better in HK? Or here in Czech Rep.? I dont know, but I know that there are many wet and, many dry teas worth to try. I have to say that I start to like teas, which went thru some wet period. Unfortunately it is almost impossible to find good, traditional (wet) stored tea, here in the middle of Europe. You can find many muddy like shus, from poor to great young shengs and some decent dry stored aged shengs. But I know just about one company selling rather good, traditional stored shengs here (declarations and prices are another story) Then there are some, from good to great, rather wet stored teas from EoT. Do you know any interesting source of traditional stored puehrs in Europe? Or some safe bets in Asia or US? Please share!
Tea taste better in rainy day... 

Many friends and customers ask about my experiences with long term storage. Is this jar the right choice for my premium cakes? What clay is the best for such puehr jar? For oolongs? What shape and what size? Well, I can just guess and use common sense. If you have any findings on this field feel free to jump in...

Thanks for reading!