Telling the difference between sheng and shu when both have been stored Hong Kong style?

Puerh and other heicha
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Balthazar
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Fri Aug 14, 2020 2:03 pm

Chadrinkincat wrote:
Fri Aug 14, 2020 12:59 pm
Balthazar

Natural storage is the not the same thing as traditional HK storage
I agree, and I had the suspicion that you and @StoneLadle might actually not disagree either, which is why I wrote that his statement would not be controversial "if we agree that (HK) "natural storage" is the same as "wet storage"/"traditional storage"".

When he talked about "naturally aged raw PE" from Hong Kong I took it to mean basically sheng puer stored in HK under the normal conditions of that time, which would be traditional/wet/basement storage, rather than what we today call "natural storage" (which is a term I kinda loathe as it implicitly invokes the naturalistic fallacy - but that's another topic).

I may have read him wrong, though, perhaps he really meant that ripe puer was invented to mimic dry Hong Kong storage, in which case I too disagree... What do you say, @StoneLadle? :)


@DailyTX: There's traditonal/wet HK storage and there's natural(ugh)/dry HK storage.
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Balthazar
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Fri Aug 14, 2020 2:05 pm

@pantry beat me to it with one minute :P
DailyTX
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Fri Aug 14, 2020 2:35 pm

DailyTX: There's traditonal/wet HK storage and there's natural(ugh)/dry HK storage.
[/quote]

@Balthazar
This article brings back memories. I read it before when I was on Teachat :)
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StoneLadle
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Sat Aug 15, 2020 12:27 am

@Chadrinkincat

What does your palate tell you? Will you say no to either of those cakes?

HKG storage to me, is very good when done well. "Natural" storage with controlled conditions also very good when done well, but it needs to err on the higher side. That's me. Or a combination of both, also good.

What does your palate tell you?
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StoneLadle
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Wed Aug 26, 2020 4:34 am

Balthazar wrote:
Fri Aug 14, 2020 2:03 pm

I agree, and I had the suspicion that you and StoneLadle might actually not disagree either, which is why I wrote that his statement would not be controversial "if we agree that (HK) "natural storage" is the same as "wet storage"/"traditional storage"".

When he talked about "naturally aged raw PE" from Hong Kong I took it to mean basically sheng puer stored in HK under the normal conditions of that time, which would be traditional/wet/basement storage, rather than what we today call "natural storage" (which is a term I kinda loathe as it implicitly invokes the naturalistic fallacy - but that's another topic).

I may have read him wrong, though, perhaps he really meant that ripe puer was invented to mimic dry Hong Kong storage, in which case I too disagree... What do you say, StoneLadle? :)
Please allow me to unpack this a little:

HKG traditional storage is my benchmark because that was where it all started for me, my family always had tea around for things like dinners, mahjong games and gatherings. Basement storage is just part of it and is common as described by MarshalN, then the tea gets moved to a buyer like a restaurant or tea house or another merchant or gets shipped abroad. The trick here is the quality of the storage. Water spraying is a no-no...

In the 90s, lots of tea was brought out here to Malaysia in places like Penang, Ipoh and Kuala Lumpur for storage and aging as the weather is warm and humid year round, compared to HKG which has two distinct seasons with marginal springs and autumns (falls). The cliche was that a year in the SE Asia is equivalent to 4 in China and 2 in HKG. Conditions here are much the same. A space or room with minimal exposure to the outside, but kept well ventilated and tea kept off of the ground or on shelves or urns or whatever... And the combination works well.

Dry storage to takes too long and doesn't result in my pre-requisites: body, texture, dustiness, smoothness, endurance and above all, Root Beer-ness... I learned this term from @EarthMonkey who does not seem to be no longer active... but dry storage can work wonders on old Xiaguan sheng tuochas (found a bunch of these little bad boys in my dead old dad's office from the early 90s and after being kept in aircon in an office for 20 years + the smokiness is totally integrated and the broth just started to brown up this year)...

So for me, as I was told, Shu was made to imitate HKG aged Pu Erh, read into that what you will, in that the tea is fermented quicker to make it drinkable, but the technique kind of got adapted from Liu Bao production, and that's why the 7581 bricks pre-2000 are so so highly sought after... light fermentation with some sheng leaves thrown in, and these dudes form my benchmark for what is a good Shu and there are good Shu's out there. The question of wet/dry stored raw doesn't come into the equation for me, as i'm looking for well stored product to pass the taste, hence, acquisition test...

In the end, the tea if shu, if stored properly, should be smooth, velvety and be like dark liquid comfort... pretty much solid and consistent to the end... if sheng, stored and aged properly... it's just magic, giving one a journey thru time. Each has their place.
TeaZero
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Wed Aug 26, 2020 4:52 am

I think the main difference is that shu will always be thicker, smoother and earthier relative to long aged sheng. Old shengs develop are more 'herbal' or 'medicinal' aroma, which shu's don't have.
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StoneLadle
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Wed Aug 26, 2020 4:56 am

TeaZero wrote:
Wed Aug 26, 2020 4:52 am
I think the main difference is that shu will always be thicker, smoother and earthier relative to long aged sheng. Old shengs develop are more 'herbal' or 'medicinal' aroma, which shu's don't have.
Hi there, I beg to differ. The medicinal notes of a good aged 7581 are highly prized
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tealifehk
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Sun Aug 30, 2020 1:13 am

Gotta do my taxes today, and pack up several boxes, so I'll keep this quick:

Shou was originally meant to imitate HK traditional storage or 'wet' storage, which often involves selecting a particularly humid basement or even adding water. Good shou and good traditional storage sheng can be somewhat similar, but they are also distinct if you have experience with both. In my early years, I struggled to tell the difference, but you can totally tell the difference from the leaves, especially after brewing. Shou is also traditionally stored in HK and up until 2012, almost all of the pu erh I'd had was traditional storage shou. I still remember my brother's shock when he tried some shou I aged myself, or my security guard's reaction when I gave him some fresh maocha ;)

Vesper Chan's dry storage (can be considered natural, since no use of AC/dehumidifiers) really changed things up here, and traditional storage is now much less common in HK. This started after the 88 QB started skyrocketing in price. Lots of people who had stored tea traditionally up until that point tried their hand at dry storage, or even completely switched over. Much of the early dry storage in Guangdong was HK people getting in early.

Natural storage in HK is very different from traditional storage, and if stored high up in a building like Vesper Chan's tea (or mine!) can age beautifully.

Dry storage originally encompassed natural storage (and still does, depending on who you're talking to), but now often involves the use of air conditioning and/or electric dehumidifiers.

Guangdong is NOT dryer than HK. Guangdong is within my line of sight from my living room on most days! There is tea stored up there in all kinds of ways, from bone dry with AC and dehumidifers to ruined wet storage, and everything in between, but storing high up in a building is not as common there, since they have more land to work with. Here in HK, we build up because of the high cost of land. A lot of HK is protected nature reserves, and the country parks here are absolutely incredible! We've got species here that are now extinct in PRC, thanks to the British government's land policies.
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tealifehk
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Sun Aug 30, 2020 1:31 am

Also, on sheng vs shou (traditional storage/wet storage):

Some shou can get thinner than water after traditional storage (and the years of natural storage that follow). They literally go down smoother than our very soft water here in HK! The TDS definitely goes up with tea compounds in the water, but the sensory experience is that the liquor gets smoother than water. This isn't always the case, however, and some HK traditionally-stored ripe teas hold onto their viscosity in the cup better than others. I was fortunate enough to be gifted some 1974 7452 as a trade sample, and it wasn't quite as light and airy as a few other recipes I've tried.

I haven't had a sheng get to that stage yet (not even sheng from the 50s-70s)!
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StoneLadle
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Mon Aug 31, 2020 1:22 am

@tealifehk

Great explanation!

In the 80s weekend marathon mahjong sessions were fuelled with tons of PoLei, and the good stuff was taken out , broken up and aired out ready for action. 4 tables in two flats side by side in North Point. Scary stuff.

Totally in agreement with the ancient stored Shou... Just liquid smoothness flowing and rolling.

Was really busy when I was back last year working July thru March this year. Pity had to leave cos of plandemic.

FTPPDLLM
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tealifehk
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Mon Aug 31, 2020 8:49 pm

StoneLadle wrote:
Mon Aug 31, 2020 1:22 am
tealifehk

Great explanation!

In the 80s weekend marathon mahjong sessions were fuelled with tons of PoLei, and the good stuff was taken out , broken up and aired out ready for action. 4 tables in two flats side by side in North Point. Scary stuff.

Totally in agreement with the ancient stored Shou... Just liquid smoothness flowing and rolling.

Was really busy when I was back last year working July thru March this year. Pity had to leave cos of plandemic.

FTPPDLLM
:D

Didn't realize you were from HK. Those mahjong sessions (with po lei) sound like they were epic!
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StoneLadle
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Tue Sep 01, 2020 1:36 am

My mum's side of the family is from HKG. I was born in Malaysia. Increasingly I'm finding that there is a disconnect between how I see tea and the rest of the world and PoLei is just the start...🐱
moose
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Sun Dec 06, 2020 2:21 pm

How about cakes that are a mix of sheng and shu? Other than looking at the spent leaves, is there a consistent way to tell these apart from the older shengs? It seems difficult from flavor alone, especially if those mixed cakes have a bit of age on them as well.
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YeeOnTeaCo
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Mon Dec 07, 2020 10:47 pm

An interesting topic so let's play a little game:

- Both of these are from the same year in the 80s.
- From the same factory
- Materials is broadleaf of similar grade
- Both been through a period Traditional HK storage 10+ years then moved to a controlled warehouse.
- One is Ripe and one is Raw.
- This is as close as it gets in terms of the only difference being Ripe and Raw.

So the first to ID all four pictures correctly* in terms of Ripe or Raw (eg, Raw, Ripe, Raw, Ripe) gets a pat on the back. :D ;) (Admins @Victoria @pedant @Chip please let me know if I'm allowed to give pats on the back :lol: )

*some might find this easy
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Victoria
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Mon Dec 07, 2020 10:59 pm

This is a great test and very informative too. I’m not well versed in Sheng/Shu, they looks so similar... eenie meenie miney mo.. Ripe, Raw, then they look the same ..Raw Ripe :)
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