Pu’erh storage is as complicated as you want to make it. But it’s also an issue that needs to be addressed for anyone with a stash. Keeping your pu’erh in open air or close to aromas is a good way to slowly ruin it. Pumidor is a scary sounding word and can represent overly elaborate, endlessly complex solutions.. For instance there are some pu-heads that have hand-built a sealed non-aromatic wood box from scratch with multiple humidifiers and hygrometers. Or installed a fishtank heater to emulate the humidity of more humid storage. This can all be a bit intimidating for someone just getting started with a cake or two. There’s also an appeal in keeping it simple. In many ways, the more complex the solution the more points of stress or concern. Maybe you’re just tipping your toes into the water and have a couple cakes or maybe you prefer a minimalist approach to tea. Either way, it is very possible to create simple, workable solution that don’t involve adding humidity or hygrometers.
The good news is that it’s difficult to ruin your pu’erh very quickly. Unless you did something obviously bad it’ll probably be OK for at least several months.
For most of the west are priorities are:
- Keeping tea away from aromas.
- Keep airflow extremely minimal.
- Not letting the tea get too dry (or too wet).
- Don’t let the temperature get too low or high.
Just buy a bunch of ziplocs large enough to hold your cakes and store them away from odors and airflow. It really doesn’t need to be more complicated than that. Your tea won’t be aging or changing quickly, but it also won’t go bad anytime soon. If you want to be extra cautious, double bag it!
- These are also nice to pickup spare crumbs.
- Group up duplicates or similar cakes.
- Ziplocs (or equivalent) can also be used in any of the other storage methods.
This is a very common storage method in east Asia pu’erh hotspots. While there’s a bit of debate over the long-term effectiveness in a drier western climate, for a small set of cakes it should be fine. We’ve all got cardboard boxes shipped to us regularly that can fit tea laying around. The cardboard helps to keep light and airflow out. Simple and easy.
The first step to pumidor. This allows for less breathability and exchange than a cardboard box, so make sure that there’s no plastic smells left behind that the tea will pick up. Air the bins out well and you should be set.
- For plastic bins and cardboard boxes, the next optional steps are packing them tightly with tea and adding a bit of humidity (both optional).
Cwyn has commented extensively on this form of storage. This methodology may or may not be simple depending on the accessibility to crocks. Crocks were made for fermentation, so it makes a lot of sense. It’s also possible to find the right shape for a bunch of cakes. It does becomes difficult to manage for larger stashes of pu’erh especially once you start to do more complicated things like add humidity.
A Few Tips
- Cluster your cakes. Typically all raw cakes together and all ripe cakes together.
- Stack similar cakes together.
- Don’t overcomplicate things or stress too much! It is hard to irreversibly mess up pu’erh quickly.
Do Not List for Most Western Climates
- Don’t store your pu’erh outside or allow it to get too cold (room temp is fine).
- Don’t store it near the windows.
- Don’t store it facing the sun.
- Don’t store it in a well-ventilated place.
- Don’t store it near strong smells or aromas.