Wednesday, October 16, 2013
New storage experiment
I plopped down a bit of money (not much) for an impulse sealer and started sealing up some of my cakes, just like you see in tea shops in many parts of China. The results have been encouraging. The aroma becomes concentrated again and it seems that all the wonderful nuance and complexity I love so much about these teas becomes redirected back into the tea again, instead of dissipating into the air. Over the months as I would taste-compare sealed teas to unsealed ones, I eventually became a convert and now nearly all of my teas are sealed up. The only exceptions are those which I purchased originally in tongs (which I think is the most ideal way to store teas), and those few cakes I'm still leaving unsealed to continue with the comparisons.
Another good option (even better) would be to store one's tea cakes in those large yixing jars. Like the tong wrappers, the clay does a good job of keeping the tea protected, limiting the amount of air that can circulate, while still allowing penetration of humidity. Admittedly, the plastic wrap does not do that. But I don't have the funds to purchase a bunch of large yixing jars, and even if I did I have so many tea cakes it would probably require an addition to the house to store them all. So for now, until I come up with a better option, it's the shrink-wrap route for me.
But the pumidor is still useful. It's great for "conditioning" a tea cake, either right after purchasing or after removing it from the shrink wrap. When a tea cake that has been dried out somewhat is placed into that warm humid environment for a short time, it does incredible things to the taste and aroma of the tea.