The purpose of this experiment is to demonstrate the role of oxygen in imminent drinkability of young raw puer.
For this experiment, I used a 2018 Jinggu raw puer from Yunnan Sourcing.
- Boveda packs were used to condition the cake.
- The cake core was removed prior to reduce sample variation.
A – 22C, 65% RH, sealed in mylar
B – 22C, 65% RH, sealed in mylar with oxygen absorbers
C – 22C, 65% RH, vacuum-sealed
D – 22C, 65% RH, vacuum-sealed with oxygen absorbers
Evaluation (90 days)
Visually, I noticed that the samples stored with oxygen absorbers decompressed quite a bit. The leaves were also much more flexible and resistant to breakage.
A – Pungent, zesty, sweet, complex. Explosive aroma. I could go on.
B – Easily the worst. Very plain in taste, in a strange way.
C – Better than either of the samples stored with absorbers. More of a proper natural taste, though terribly repressed in comparison to A.
D – Comparable to B, but not nearly as poor.
Somehow, removing oxygen caused the tea to decompress, and the sample in the vacuum sealed bag decompressed less than the one in mylar since it didn’t have enough room. Notice the correlation: the more decompression, the worse the tea. However, it’s possible that the higher air-permeability of the vacuum bag had something to do with the fact that it performed better than the mylar stored sample.
After tasting the samples a couple of times, I tossed out all of the oxygen absorbers and stored all the samples at room temperature in a mini pumidor (very little airflow) with 65% RH Bovedas.
Evaluation (180 days)
A – Good bitterness followed by huigan. Sweetness, pungency, complex sheng notes. Great condition.
B – Dry leaves are still quite flexible, though not as much as before. Rinse aroma is dead compared to sample A. It has less sweetness, and is not very flavorful or complex. Huigan is absent; the tea lays flat in the mouth. Little in the way of mouth or throat sensations after the swallow. I would not drink this in its current state, for which I have no solution other than waiting. That said, it tastes better now than it did at the 90 day mark.
C – Similar to A, just more “dense”. Not as enjoyable as A, but not problematic either. Good condition, much better than it was at the 90 day mark.
D – Similar to B, but not quite as poor.
Once again, A>C>D>B.
It seems to me that oxygen needs to be present in the storage environment for optimal drinkability of young raw puer. No statements are being made on optimal aging conditions.
All of the samples, still wrapped in mulberry paper and labeled accordingly, have been moved to a single mylar bag where they will reside until the next tasting in 6 months. I will be curious to see if samples B, C, and D can recover fully to match sample A.