Pu-erh tea is a delicious, mellow and earthy tea which is a post fermentation tea which is famous worldwide for its distinctly unique qualities. Unlike other teas which degrade and lose their freshness with age, Pu-erh tea gets better with age, like a fine vintage wine. The fragrance and flavor profiles of the tea change and improve with age throughout the Pu-erh brick, cake or bing, making older and more rare Pu-erh teas in high demand and increase in monetary value with age, and some old, rare Pu-erh teas can sell for upwards of $10,000.
But Pu-erh tea can only improve with age when stored properly, so let us explore the most ideal ways to store your Pu-erh tea to ensure the highest quality possible.
Air and Humidity
The quality of a Pu-erh tea can only increase over time by storing it in a dry place where it is out of the way of drafts and airflow.
The Importance of Clean Air
Tea leaves, especially Pu-erh tea leaves, will easily absorb odors or any toxins in the air such as oil or smoke. Therefore it is extremely important when storing your Pu-erh tea that you store it in a clean place where it won't absorb odors, humidity or other impurities in the air. Places such as a pantry or cupboard are not ideal because it can absorb the odors of herbs, especially strongly scented herbs and spices, or other unpleasant smells.
Indocalamus or Using the Original Packaging for Storage of Pu-erh Tea
The traditional packaging for Pu-erh tea includes using indocalamus which is a genus of Bamboo and very similar to the Bamboo plant. It is useful for the after-fermentation of Pu-erh tea and can filter impurities and improve the quality of your tea. If you have separated your Pu-erh and have packaged in it plastic, it will usually produce mildew and ruin your Pu-erh tea, so plastic packaging is a bad choice for storage of Pu-erh tea.
Another good choice for most Pu-erh teas is to store the Pu-erh tea in the packaging it came in, if appropriate for storage, and the packaging normally includes the place and date of manufacturing which is very important in Pu-erh vintage quality and value.
A wonderful choice for storage of your Pu-erh tea is to use a sand container or a potter's clay container. These are both perfect for brick Pu-erh storage as they have good air permeability, easy and convenient storage, and their attractive aesthetic value. These can also often improve the quality of your Pu-erh tea over the years.
Some parts of the proper storage of Pu-erh tea apply to other teas as well, however there is a big difference between fermented teas, non-fermented teas and lightly fermented teas, and the storage of other teas besides Pu-erh tea can be slightly different, yet similar.
The Proper Storage of Green and Oolong Teas
Green and Oolong teas will taste lighter and lighter if stored out of the air without any protection. For example, Dragon Well (Longjing) green tea and Dong Ding Oolong teas are best stored at approximately 5 degrees centigrade in your refrigerator or similar cold, dry and dark place. Unlike Pu-erh which needs extensive storage requirements, you can simply set your green or Oolong teas in a cool, dark dry area of your house. Never store your light teas such as white, green and Oolong teas with a strongly fermented tea such as Pu-erh or it will degrade the quality of the lighter teas and alter the flavor permanently.
Professional Storage of Teas
The best advice for the proper storage of Pu-erh tea is to keep it at a consistent cool temperature, with a consistent low humidity levels, outside of direct light sources and airflow, with no strong odors or unpleasant odors in the air. Pu-erh tea stored in this manner will result in a high quality and delicious Pu-erh tea, now or even years in the future.
Storing any of your teas just anywhere is a bad habit because even when you have a good container for your tea which will keep the teas original flavor, it may acquire mildew or odors. Follow the guidelines above to properly store your teas to get the best flavor and quality from your teas.