Friday, 2 March 2012

(My) puerh storage

Ageing sheng puerh is not that straight forward as I though. I remember when my first order of full cakes arrived and the scent of young shengs filled the room. The cakes were then stored on a shelf and the fragrance started to fade. Within a couple of months I had to stick my nose very close to smell anything. So, I started to search around the sites and found information about the types of storage and the importance of humidity and temperature. Based on what I read the humidity should be in the range between 60-90 % and the temperature from 20 to 30°C depending on the type of storage and quality of leaves. I prefer to not go into detail since my knowledge is quite limited, instead I would like to share the way I store my cakes. 

The first thing was a purchase of a simple device which measures the temperature and relative humidity. I found that the humidity in my room is around 50% during the summer and the first 2-3 months of the "central heating on" season. Then, at the end of the winter, the humidity slowly drop to 40-45%. This is simply not enough. 

To increase the humidity I used the classical approach of bowls with water in the cupboard. This helped to increase the humidity to 60 % but the temperature was still low, around 18-19%. So, I decided to improve this setup, and here are the ingredients: 

- An old unused bookcase
- One of the shelves is slightly modified (see the pictures below)
- 2-3 bigger plastic flower pots, in one of them an aquarium water heater

 Water containers with the heater (25W) adjusted to 25°C on the bottom shelf.

 I use tap water which is (unfortunately) heavily chlorinated what prevent the grow of microorganisms in the container. The upper shelf has holes for air circulation. 

The majority of cakes is placed on the upper shelf (in paper bags) but it can be also on the bottom one.

The front side is covered with a rug which let the tea "breath".

Half year ago when I started with this setup the humidity was around 70-75%. Now, when the air is quite dry in the room due to the months of heating, the humidity in the cupboard is between 65-70 % and the temperature 21-22°C. I think this may be ok for the cakes. Once per week the container with the heater has to be refilled (with cca 1L of water). The room is now filled with a healthy scent of young shengs, what is encouraging.

Ageing is tricky. If the humidity/temperature is too low the cakes will not age and they become flat. On the other hand too much moisture can cause a disaster called mold, therefore I try to avoid too humid conditions.  

How this setup works, will show the time.


  1. Quite a system :-)
    That's a good idea... should think about it.
    Thanks for the sharing.

  2. You’re welcome :)
    The central European climate is not the best for puerh ageing and since I like to experiment I tried this. But in any case, I am trying to be on the safe side (at least I hope).

  3. Luckily i live in Singapore and thats heaven for pu-erh. instant humid 70-90%, temp 25-34 degree celsius. my pu -erh smell nice every day :)


  4. Hi Kelmund

    Singapore is known to be a good place for shengs. You (and your cakes) are lucky indeed. On the other hand, I am not sure if I could manage to live in this kind of conditions for long time. I guess, I would end up too much "wet stored", hehe.



    1. Np I kept them in a plastic container and off into the shelves they go. so far so good. i must say i kept a min 20kg of pu erh now. i kept both dry and wet stored cakes. but if u keep the cake properly in SG, its usually be call dry stored coz although the humidity is high, it doesn't usually reach dew points as we all live in high rise flats. The room smells really nice with the pu erh though.


  5. Hi Kelmung
    I am sure that Singapore is a good place for ageing and as far as you don’t keep your cakes in the basement the results should be very nice (but you know it better than me:).
    In the previous comment I wanted to point out that I can not handle to humid and hot weather. Even the summer here in Milano are sometimes unbearable for me.

  6. Interesting setup. I've been looking at different humidifiers but nothing really seams to fit because most are uncontrollable and build for rooms or they are expensive and very limited cigar setups. Your setup is something worth thinking about. Talking about central Europe and by looking at your humidity and temperature level ... are you also based in Germany?


  7. Dear JR

    I store my puerh in the house of my parents in Slovakia but the climate is quite similar to Germany's climate.

    To build such a setup is relatively simple and cheap and seems to work fine so far. The water heater is adjustable so one could control the humidity but also the temperature in the cupboard up to some level. I am planning to use only one container and substitute the blanket with doors which may seal better. I would like to update this post every now and then.
    Good luck with your storage