The purpose of this experiment is to observe the effects of conditioning ripe puer to a range of humidity levels in the short term.
For this experiment, I used 2018 “Serendipity” from Yunnan Sourcing.
- The cake core was removed prior in order to reduce sample variation.
- Humidity was controlled using a Boveda pack and silica desiccant packets.
- A calibrated analog hygrometer was used for the humidity measurements.
I broke this tea up into chunks, putting one half in one bag and the other half in another.
In the first bag of tea, I placed a few silica desiccant packets, then sealed it up. I checked the humidity reading every couple of hours with a calibrated analog hygrometer until the reading reached 50% RH. Silica desiccant packets work quickly. I removed the packets and sealed up this bag, deciding it would be better to let the tea rest a bit at its new humidity level before tasting. During this period, I simply let the 69% Boveda pack sit undisturbed in the second bag.
One week later, I confirmed that the first bag generated a relative humidity of 50%. The second bag read 70% RH. Upon comparing the samples in a taste test, I was unable to find a clear undeniable difference. However, this wasn’t enough to conclude that the moisture content of ripe puer has no effect on its taste, so I decided to dry out the first sample even further.
I placed the silica desiccant packets in the first bag again, and dried out the tea all the way down to 25% RH. Again, I waited a week and verified the humidity reading before tasting. This time, I noticed that the drier (25% RH) sample was crackly and brittle while dry, but once again, in comparison to the 70% RH sample, I once again found no significant difference in taste.
Based on this experience as well as previous ones, it seems that ripe puer is not very sensitive to drops in humidity in the very short term, unlike raw puer. No implications are being made about optimal conditions for longer term storage.
Very interesting experiment and conclusion. You could try to keep both samples at this humidity for a year or 2 to see if it has any effect on the aging of shou.
I’ve since been informed that longer periods of low humidity storage tend to be detrimental for ripe puer. Since I have no reason to store my ripe puer so dry to begin with, I’ll let someone else take the reigns on that experiment. For now, I simply recommend storing ripe puer the same way as raw puer, with the exception of instances where airflow is necessary to remove the wodui funk.