Pu Erh Storage : Basic Principles

When I first started drinking Pu erh tea, I was buying in bulk from a tea shop in Montreal. I didn’t really care for storing, other than keeping the tea in its little resealable bag it came in. The more I drank, the more I bought Pu Erh. Once, I came upon a cheap tea cake. A raw Pu Erh from Camellia Sinensis. It was such a steal ! It was the best impulse buy ever. Although, I was happy with my purchase, having a tea cake sparked a lot of questions regarding storage. I knew it was a thing, but I never imagined myself storing cakes of tea. In this article, I will go through the basic principles of storing Pu Erh Tea (Raw and/or Ripe) and my experiments with storage.

Basic principles

The two basic principles that guide storing Pu Erh in the long run are temperature and humidity. The optimal settings for home storing your own cakes are the following : a temperature between 20 and 30 degrees celsius (68 and 86 fahrenheit) and a relative humidity reading in between 50 % to 80%, in the most extreme cases. Good air circulation is a plus. But you can aerate them yourself, by opening the storage unit once in a while. Also, Pu Erh is like a sponge : it absorbs odors. It’s best to leave it in a relatively odorless place. And last but not least, your cakes need to be stored in a dark place, since Pu Erh can be damaged by light exposure over time. It’s important to meet most of the requirements I just listed. If Pu Erh is stored in a dry and cold environment, the microorganisms that helps it age will die, and the tea will turn bad. Both in terms of taste and aging potential.

Home Storage : What Can Be Done

There’s many way to approach home storage. In certain parts of the world, just stuffing your cakes in a cardboard box will do the trick. But where I live, in Québec, humidity is an issue. It’s dry all year round, even in hot summer days. It’s where added humidity, from a water source or simple Boveda humidity packs comes into play. If you’re fortunate enough to find a broken mini-fridge or wine cooler, it’s the perfect home storage facility. Just put your cakes in the unplugged fridge, a couple of Boveda packs or a glass of water and hygrometer, and you’re all set. Just make sure the fridge or cooler doesn’t smell, and clean it thoroughly before using it. A cheaper option would be to put all of your cakes in ziplock bags, throwing in a couple of Boveda packs and an hygrometer. This is the option I chose for my setup, and it serves me well.

My Experiments With Storage

I first started a bit naive with storage. I thought that throwing my cakes in a box with an hygrometer would be okay. But the numbers on my meter were off the charts… In a bad way. My humidity was way too low to store Pu Erh, and I freaked out. The next day, I bought Boveda humidity packs, left them for a couple of days only to find out it was still too dry. There was too much air circulation in the box, and the humidity wouldn’t stay. At this moment, I read online that ziplock bags were a good option. I bought some and to this day, my humidity and temperature are perfect. You only need to create a microclimate to store Pu Erh.

There’s no perfect way to store Pu Erh. As long as the tea is good for you, that’s what is important in the end !

Home storage example from : https://teadb.org/puerh-storage/

16 thoughts on “Pu Erh Storage : Basic Principles

  1. I’ve tried a few Pu’erh’s but only ever enjoyed maybe one or two of them. I threw myself into researching it when I first found out about it but you still managed to teach me some new things with this post. I’m really looking forward to seeing what posts you have planned for the future.

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    1. Did you try sheng or shou Pu Erh ? And what brewing method were you using ?

      I find that they a brewed best gong fu style in a gaiwan. And I prefer shengs, as they are more fruity / floral than shou.

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  2. I’m so picky about pu’erh, but I find I tend to like the older ones (possibly because that’s what my parents had around when I was growing up). My parents keep their teas in a cupboard in the kitchen and it seems to do the trick!

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  3. the biggest trouble I follow from foreign customers is the purchased puerh changing dramatically storage conditions , therefore the taste. Usually it’s from Guangzhou where humidity is pretty high , so the tea is “soaked” with moister and appears very aromatic, live, vivid, rich ..etc. When it gets dry “shock” it looses all those beautiful proprieties very quickly. Stored tea also needs the air circulation ( especially in humid environment ) , I’m kind a skeptical towards to those pumidors / humidors or ziplock any packs.

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    1. Sometimes, the local climat cannot hold such humidity in the air. Where I live, it’s pretty dry all year long, but especially when it’s winter. Temperature is cold and heating a house dries out the air. In the west, there is a need to create a micro-climate. But I see why you would think it’s not the greatest thing

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      1. yep, that happened to me as well. I brought some tea cakes from Shenzhen ( where I use to live before ) to Kunming , the wet notes are still there but “living” features not ;-( Once the tea leafs get on steep path of maturing ( humid place matures faster ) , slowing it down by dry environment doesn’t do any good. Some Kunming vendors buy GZ stored teas for resell as aged ( very old ) KM storage tea to newbies. Common practice here.

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      2. Aww that’s not nice.

        I tried a wet hk sotred tea for two years, then it went in kunming for storage. It’s from 2009. This was a wonderful tea. Aging tea is an art I think. Some climates do it good, while some make it harder to stock and age. Beware of the scam

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