The purpose of this experiment is to observe how exposure to air affects the taste of young raw puer over time.
For this experiment, I used 2018 “Long Tang Gu Shu” from Yunnan Sourcing.
- Cake cores were removed from prior to reduce sample variation.
- Humidity was controlled using Boveda packs.
- A: 22C, 65% RH, not sealed (mini-pumidor)
- B: 22C, 65% RH, sealed in mylar bag
- C: 22C, 65% RH, vacuum-sealed
The samples were tasted blind.
- A: Sweet and vibrant, the least harsh of the 3 samples.
- B: Very similar to A, just a touch of extra harshness.
- C: Lots of harshness, a distinct lack of sweetness, and dead aromatics.
It is quite obvious now that the more air the tea came into contact with, the better it tasted. I’ll be setting up another air/oxygen-related experiment in an attempt to tackle the root cause of this.
Update: April 13, 2021
60 days ago, I stored samples B and C inside a mylar bag. I pierced the bag to allow some airflow, and placed several 69% Boveda packs inside to prevent the samples from drying out. I wanted to see whether sample C could recover from its practically undrinkable state.
Upon tasting the samples, I found that sample C tasted identical to sample B, except for a small difference in the leaf aroma, which was sweeter in sample B. This is an excellent result, since it indicates that suffocated puer can be revived.
The effects of puer suffocation are likely not totally irreversible. It’s possible that vacuum-sealed storage, while not desirable for short-term drinkability, could be used without permanently ruining the tea.
This particular experiment is now complete. Expect further experimentation related to vacuum-sealed storage and air/oxygen exposure.