Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Pu-erh Storage Solution

After looking through various cigar humidors and old furniture pieces, I had a hopeless feeling that nothing would be worth it. I was saddened to think that my pu-erh would be dry-stored for it's entire fermenting life...


That hygrometer is reading a "comfortable" 52% relative humidity. Not comfortable for the pu-erh, I'm afraid. I got to thinking that I should build my own enclosure. Well, not having any good wood for the job, I decided to go for the next best, cardboard.

Yep, that's right, 100% cardboard paneling...
That's the front, with at least a little bit of aesthetic bettering done.

You'll notice that all the cardboard ended up with plastic wrapping all over it. This is because the cardboard alone made the chamber even more dry by absorbing all the excess moisture that my pu-erh needed. So I wrapped it, and in doing so, solved the problem.


As you have already spotted, I had to add a fair bit of water to the environment. I started with just a very small bowl which turned out to not be enough, and I ended up with this setup...
...Which did the trick. :)

I made a graph on the relative humidity levels. It starts a bit chaotic because I was excitedly pouring hot water into the bowl to raise the humidity. The first steadying is marked by the switch to leaving the water at room temperature. The second change (for the better, into the target range), is when I changed from the small bowl to the three larger vesicles.
The graph is clickable for an enlarged version.

As the graph shows, the numbers are looking better. Now my pu-erh and I can rest comfortably.

5 comments:

Salsero said...

For a while the dry puerh, sponge-like, absorbs water out of the enclosed air so the air humidity may actually decline. Once some sort of humidity balance is struck between the air and the tea, however, the pu stops sucking everything out of the air and the humidity of the air increases.

Your pu is very lucky to have the benefit of such a professional looking graph! (as are your readers)

Thanks for this nice post. There is not nearly enough sharing of ideas about this important topic. I think MarshalN and now you are the only bloggers who have really gotten into the nitty gritty of real life storage. One hopes your post will encourage more brave souls to share their storage stories. Keep us up to date as things evolve.

Bill said...

Now that is being resourceful! Good job Wes!

Stephane said...

Excellent post! If you have some puerh to spare, I would suggest that you store a chunk on the open shelf nextby. Like this, in a few years, you could do a comparison between your 2 storages and see how much added taste your work has produced.

I shall come back to check your blog again!

Anonymous said...

Alternative solution: Move to Hong Kong! The weather is plenty humid here. Many people here say that the Hong Kong climate is very good for aging puer tea. Also, the habit of turning the AC off when at work and on when at home encourages the cakes to 'breath' more. Unfortunately in these parts, finding space to store the tea (or anything else) is not a trivial matter. I wonder what people living in other humid climates think...

uniheliodem said...

I came across this post when looking to see what others have done for pu erh storage. Might I recommend propylene glycol? This is used in cigar humidors, mixed with water 50/50 to maintain a 70% relative humidity. The solution is hygroscopic at humidity levels greater than 70%, and evaporative at humidity levels lower than 70%.