Five Things I Like & Dislike. Short-Term Pumidors, B&B Sheng of the Day, Buying Pu’erh on Amazon

Five things I like & dislike.

Cheap Short-Term Pumidors & Storage

I’ve realized there’s a group of enthusiasts those using a humidified pumidor or mylar setup for immediate drinking. Their whole purpose isn’t collection building or long-term storage, but is driven by the idea that pu’erh tastes better when it isn’t stored on a shelf in a dry environment. As someone that’s found this to be the case and what Matt dubs as shelf fatigue, it makes perfect sense to me.

The other thing I admire is that this group tends to be particularly cost-conscious. A pumidor for under $20? No problem. Some second hand shopping, a week or two of airing it out, and home-made saltpacks, and you’re ready to go. This is basically the cheap college student equivalent of a pumidor. I appreciate not only the resourcefulness, but how it removes barriers from what sounds intimidating and challenging to set up. It’s also inherently less risky (you’re drinking from it regularly) and easy to do simple tasting comparisons to ensure it is having a positive impact on your tea.

I have way too much tea to qualify for this group, but I do have one pumidor that behaves a lot like the short-term one. It’s not filled to the brim and is used in a way to maximize accessibility. It’s unlikely any of the teas in there will last longer than 3-5 years. My other, larger pumidor I don’t drink out of regularly.

Cakes
Cakes.

Badger & Blade & It’s Patron Saint: Shah

Bizarrely the Badger & Blade wet shaving forum has the longest “Sheng of the Day” thread I’ve ever seen. The thread was started over 11 years ago, and earliest contributors included a number of known people including Hobbes of Half-Dipper and TwoDog. Despite, what doesn’t exactly seem like a very obvious crossover with wet shaving, the thread is still going. This is largely thanks to the steady and consistent work of shah8, a long standing member of the western online tea community. The thread is more active early on, with the first 200 or so featuring a number of different posters in the first two years. Eventually shah becomes the author of 90% of the entries.

If you are someone that wants to read the tasting notes from a long-time western drinker, I highly recommend scrolling through the 375 pages of this thread. Shah’s notes are not simple or basic ones. They are descriptive, unique, and substantive. He’s had a lot of teas from western vendors as well as other sources, like Taiwanese auctions. Thanks to his consistent contributions the last 50 or so pages can also be read as a bit of a personal tealog. It’s a worthy contribution that deserves to be scoured over, just as you would a long-running tea blog.

I came across this thread as many did, through the wonders of google.

Badger and Blade Sheng of the Day
Badger and Blade Sheng of the Day.

Erroneous Belief: Sealed Tea Does Not Age

I’ve seen this belief on and off, that sealing tea basically puts it into a stasis chamber and it will not change. It’s just not true and there’s examples out there that easily disprove it. Take Marco’s heated hotbox where the tea is put in mylar. The tea has changed markedly quickly both visually and in taste. There’s also teas like the Naked Yiwu sold by Teas We Like, which was sealed in Taiwan or sealed teas that Kyarazen sold.

Tea does age differently when it is sealed up, and you may not like how tea ages, but arguing that the tea is trapped in time and does not change is inaccurate and lazy.

Undervalued Big Cakes

I’m a big believer that the cake price plays an inordinate role in how we perceive the price of cakes. Sticker shock is real and it’s a big reason I do my best to follow $/g calculations when comparing teas or buying. I think if I didn’t follow this calculation I’d end up with a whole closet of 200 and 250 gram bings.

I think this can result in 357g cakes and larger being undervalued in the current market. Vendors may not be able to crank up the price as they would’ve otherwise if a cake is large. Sticker shock is real and a $300 price tag will scare most people away regardless of cake size. But a $300, 357 gram cake is 55% of the $/g price of a $300, 200 gram cake.

The most common example I can think of are Yang’s cakes. These teas have cake prices that can make you faint.. But many are 500 grams. That is the equivalent of 2.5 of these modern 200 gram cakes! That big price certainly looks a lot more reasonable if you divide the overall price of 2.5 when comparing it with these modern mini-cakes.

Buying Pu’erh on Amazon

I see this get asked a lot on facebook groups or other gatherings of newer drinkers. I suppose I understand why. What can you not get on Amazon?

But…. Do not do it! Amazon is just not a great source for pu’erh and you’d be much better off going through one of the oft-mentioned pu’erh vendors, Yunnan Sourcing, White2Tea, Crimson Lotus Tea, etc..  I searched pu’erh on amazon just to make sure. It’s a mix of overpriced teabags, mediocre tea, and likely fakes. You may not get two day shipping, but the tea will be much better if you have a little patience and order from a pu’erh specialist.

Amazon Pu'erh
Amazon Pu’erh.
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5 Responses to Five Things I Like & Dislike. Short-Term Pumidors, B&B Sheng of the Day, Buying Pu’erh on Amazon

  1. twt_reddit says:

    I have a couple of Long and Short Term Pumidors, set up differently

    I double seal everything (zip bags inside a large ziplock), and I always wondered about the effectiveness of my pumidors for re-moisture because of that, especially the short term ones, since I assume the de-moisture from opening the zip bag has a much larger effect than the pumidor’s ability to re-moisture through two plastic enclosures..

    I rather be safe than sorry though, and even If the benefits only add up to 5% it’ll be worth it to me..

    Still haven’t started to steam my bags, but I’m warming up to it slowly.. If I was living in a very dry place I’d do that for sure, but since I don’t I’m afraid of doing more harm than good.. Maybe I’ll do it only on dry days..

    btw both type of pumidores have additional purposes, so I’d use them either way, just without the boveda packs..

    also, it’s always funny how you drop that 8.. :p

    • James says:

      I suppose that it depends how often you open the bags and what the conditions are in the pumidor, if it loses much. For my case, I also use plastic bags (mainly cause I’m sloppy) and am not sure that I lose too much humidity when I take the cake out to break off a piece.

      Hah, shah8? I guess I don’t even think about it.

      Cheers,
      -James

  2. Tetsubin says:

    Just out of curiosity, why do you think your tea won’t last longer then 3-5 years in your “access pumidor”?

  3. MattCha says:

    James,

    Shah8 has to be given credit for for bringing in a certain style of reviewing puerh. He has a certain evaluation of specificity gushu type puerh that was a bit radical at the time when he first came on the scene. At that time, all the puerh bloggers were heavily influenced by factory teas. He evaluated gushu by not comparing it to factory puerh but rather to comparisons within a production area. He also was very detailed and stressed that puerh within a certain region should be aggressively compared to other puerh as opposed to comparing a puerh on its own merits or to factory comparisons that don’t always make much sense.

    If you look back on the Half Dipper around 2011 he is often challenging this older mentality. He also has stuck to this position through all the changes in the puerh world over the last 9 years.

    I have always though the user Shah8 was a play on Shite….. hahaha

    Peace

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