Simple Home Storage Solutions

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.

Plastic Bin.

Plastic Bin filled with Pu’erh Cakes.

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:

  1. Keeping tea away from aromas.
  2. Keep airflow extremely minimal.
  3. Not letting the tea get too dry (or too wet).
  4. Don’t let the temperature get too low or high.

Ziplocks

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.
Cakes in Ziplocs

Cakes in Ziplocs.

Cardboard Boxes

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.

Plastic Bins

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).

Crocks

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.

Mini wine cooler pumidor. #rawpuerh #pumidor

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This entry was posted in Aged Pu'erh, Article, Raw Pu'erh, Ripe Pu'erh, Storage, Tea Learning. Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Simple Home Storage Solutions

  1. shah8 says:

    Airflow is important whenever you have a situation where moisture can collect and stay in contact with cakes. Not really a thing in the west, but be mindful if you’re in a situation (using a humidifier, in the basement) where moisture can hang around and dew up.

    • Deven says:

      In the south, humidity buildup is a problem. So I’ve found it’s is good to keep your cakes from flat surfaces that don’t breath. I have a wire rack under my bottom most cake. And every couple of days, allowing fresh air to flow in, unless you open your container regularly.

  2. Deren Ross says:

    Excellent! I had hoped you might write something on simple storage. I appreciate the minimal/simple approach idea to tea. Thank you.

  3. Cwyn says:

    Thanks for the mention. I’ve had too many reports of mold from plastic bins, mainly an issue of not opening the lid and airing enough. It’s not a storage solution for people who don’t want to check their teas very often.

    • bef says:

      Well, a fridge is even more hermetic…

      So there is probably something else going on with the plastic bins issues, such as temperature going too low at night, or something like that.

  4. Weasser says:

    I moved my tea to many different places the past few months and decided on the plastic bins. The best ones I found are from Rubbermaid called Brute. They’re a food grade plastic bin so there is no odor. Then when looking for a way to add humidity I discovered cigar humidity beads. They’re supposedly set to release or absorb water and keep the humidity at the level the beads are programmed to. I bought a bunch on ebay from a company called Joe Cool Cigar (they were MUCH cheaper than buying similar beads from the online companies I found), put them in stockings then put the stockings in a bowl and waited. I have one setup for raw, one for ripe and one for white teas, and so far it seems to work pretty good. One of them got too high in the humidity once but I realized it was because I wet the beads too much. I took them out, dried them a couple days, and it’s working fine again. The trick seems to be getting the beads just wet enough, but not too wet. Once they’re at that point, they seem to be working very well. Time will tell. I make sure to open up the bins every few days to check the humidity, and let fresh air in. I don’t think it’s a perfect system, but it’s what I came up with, and so far I’m happy with the results.

  5. Fiona says:

    Well my cardbox system seems to work for me had it about 2 years now and my cakes taste fine. Perhaps it works well because I store my tea in the attic room and it is not really sealed in. I keep the cakes in the bubble wrap it came in and have some pried loose pu in small crocks. Although I do not have a lot of cakes I have not had any luck finding a large crock to store them together. For now I’m planning to keep it like this my stash of pu is enough to last me a couple of years and I do not drink it daily so getting more pu would not be a smart option for me.

    • Toby says:

      I won’t keep them in bubble wrap.
      My ideal storage is cakes in Kraft paper bag , in cardboard box…But my wife won’t let me stack cardboard box in the house LOL

      • Fiona says:

        Well I’ve bought some ziplock bags for now not sure if I’ll keep my storage this way since I’ve some plans to move to an other place. At my current place there is a dehumidifier downstairs so moving will probably mess up my storage step up at least that is what I’m guessing.

  6. Wilko says:

    I recently saw your “Storage, My Pumidor, a little Q&A” from last year and noticed that you kept your sheng fridge at 63% RH even though from most of your other videos it seems that you prefere the wetter dry-storage like from Guangdong, HK & Malaysia which should be more around 80% RH over the Kunming dry storage which should be around 70%.
    Is there a reason that you’re keeping it so low?
    I’m currently using 76% but will probably go down to 72% again since in another video Scott from YS advises not to go above 75% to prevent mold. I just wonder how they keep it stable at those higher humidities, but guess it needs a fine balance of just the right amount of ventilation.

    • James says:

      Too risky. I’d rather have my tea age a bit more slowly than risk ruining it by pushing too hard.

      I like wetter stored and also drier stored teas.

    • Deven says:

      Last year my RH was around 76-82% around 78*F, you can use this: http://www.dpcalc.org/ to see danger zones. They did fine with no problems really, but there were only about 10 or so cakes and were being sampled/rotated so no long term sitting and plenty of good air circulation (which is fine, if you have VERY humid weather outside you container. And the container/cooler is used mostly to mitigate temperature fluctuations and smells. When I moved the weather was really weird for a while, 50*F one day and 76*F the next, a really terrible place to be if you’re tea. And with not checking/airing mitigating the dew accumulation, a couple of cakes encountered some overgrowth of a not so great fungi. But I was able to restore my cakes and I’ve now adopted a method of cardboard boxes in my large cooler after having a cake get a little too wet. Do not let the RH get >75% and not check your cakes at least once every two days, especially if they are against a flat surface and no airflow. Which was mostly how I ran in to my problem.

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