cold climate storage question

theredbaron
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Fri Oct 13, 2017 12:38 am

For the past decades i had perfect storage conditions in Bangkok, but one year ago we made our big move to Germany and i am a bit out of depth with how to best store my Pu Erh here.
We just got an apartment after an agonizing one year wait, and are in the process of moving in, and getting all our stuff out of storage. I am thinking on how to best store my Pu Erh now. One idea is in the cellar. With the apartment, in a building built in 1950, comes a store room in the cellar. It's a proper walled room, with a semi-open door with wood panels, for airflow. The room is warm from the pipes going through the cellar, somewhat more humid than outside or in in the apartment, but no mold along the walls i could see.
It could be a very good micro climate for my Pu's, closer to Bangkok than if i just store the cakes inside my apartment.
Has anybody here any thoughts, or even better, experience with that kind of storage?
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tealifehk
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Fri Oct 13, 2017 9:05 am

That sounds good! Might be worth getting a hygrometer to see where the temperature and humidity are at in the room.
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Stephen
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Sat Oct 14, 2017 10:30 am

I think getting a hygrometer-thermometer and tracking the temperature and humidity is a great idea. Then figure out if you need to adjust either. You could also check for unusual smells if you haven't already.

I live in a moderate climate that's a bit dry hot in the summer, dry cool in the autumn and cool wet in the winter. I keep my tea in a small storage room with a small window. I use a couple houseplants to keep humidity stable. I intermittently run a humidifier in the summer/autumn. I use a small lamp or even better himalayan salt lamp to keep temperature stable.
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Stephen
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Sat Oct 14, 2017 11:02 am

Another option to keep temperature up is an electric oil-filled radiator. They have a thermostat and can be set to a very low setting for constant use. You can also set a bowl of water on them to slightly affect humidity.
theredbaron
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Sun Oct 15, 2017 1:48 am

Thanks a lot. The idea with the hygrometer seems to be a good idea. Storage room isn't an option, we need the one we have for other stuff. It's either in one of the rooms, but there the problem is the dryness through the heating in winter, or the cellar. There the issue could be too much humidity, which however it doesn't seem to be. It doesn't feel too humid, and i saw no mold on the walls anywhere.
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Frisbeehead
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Mon Oct 16, 2017 8:47 am

Here in Ohio, the temperature has begun to drop recently, getting down to 8-15°C. My pumidor (an unplugged mini fridge) is in my room upstairs, and so I had to figure out how to make it warmer. I have a heat fan pointed at the door of the pumidor right now to get the temp up a bit, but for long term might go get an electric blanket to put on top.

Luckily it's humid here in both summer and winter, it doesn't get super dry. But even if it did, in the enclosed environment of the fridge with some Boveda packs it would be fine.

Have you been able to check the RH of the cellar room yet?
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Stephen
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Mon Oct 16, 2017 12:41 pm

A cabinet can help create a microclimate. I keep my tea in a wooden cabinet in my tea room. I've put the hygrometer in the cabinet to compare with the room. The humidity is generally a bit higher in the cabinet, which is stuffed with pu er. I open up the cabinet during times of higher humidity.
theredbaron
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Mon Oct 16, 2017 2:55 pm

I don't want to do a pumidor, i think it is too risky, i have heard of too many accidents that destroyed tea collections.
The problem here in Germany is mostly in winter, when heating is necessary and which makes for a very dry air.
I think i will buy a hygrometer and see what the humidity in the cellar will be. Temperature seems to be OK, and from guessing the humidity could be OK as well.
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mgualt
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Thu Oct 19, 2017 9:01 pm

Some observations from a storage experiment in progress:

Ambient temp and RH in my apartment in Toronto are 24C and 50% respectively.

If I seal a cake in a small mylar bag (just large enough to fit two cakes) then:

at 24C, we get the following RH values (+/- 2%)

50% | Empty bag
61% | YQH Qizhong+Tejipin
59% | W2T 2016 Head+TAF
70% | 70% Boveda

at 40C, stabilizing after several days, we get the following change (+/- 2%):

43% | Empty bag
61% | YQH Qizhong + Tejipin
63% | W2T 2016 Head + TAF
73% | 70% Boveda

These cakes have been kept sealed in mylar since their arrival from the manufacturer.

Conclusions:
- Going from 24C to 40C, these cakes release enough moisture to maintain approximately 60% RH. Note that at 24C, I have found that 1701-7542 maintains 66% RH, so it's a coincidence that the above cakes are so close to each other in RH produced.
- The boveda pack seems to work!
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Psyck
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Wed Oct 25, 2017 6:03 am

mgualt wrote:
Thu Oct 19, 2017 9:01 pm
Some observations from a storage experiment in progress:

Ambient temp and RH in my apartment in Toronto are 24C and 50% respectively.

<...>

- Going from 24C to 40C, these cakes release enough moisture to maintain approximately 60% RH. Note that at 24C, I have found that 1701-7542 maintains 66% RH, so it's a coincidence that the above cakes are so close to each other in RH produced.
- The boveda pack seems to work!
How did you stabilize at 40C for several days, your apartment catch fire or something? :)

I've seen others mention using plastic tubs with boveda packs. So I guess any odor free container, reasonably sized for your collection, with appropriate boveda packs in them, is a safe and simple relatively inexpensive and easily maintainable means of controlling humidity. The lamps and radiators others mentioned should work fine for controlling temperature I suppose. I have no experience in any of this personally, I live in the tropics and store my pu in the open. I did once try to add humidity during the brief winters & summers but found it unecessary (average temp is 23C and avg humidity is about 65Rh here).
plod
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Tue Nov 14, 2017 2:28 am

Have stored puer in plastic bins for a few years now, in Northern European conditions. Right here that means ok humidity (easy to keep between 65 and 70 in the bins), and ambient temperatures of 18-20C, somewhat lower and less stable in winter time (old building, hard/expensive to heat up the spare room too much). The box of semi-aged sheng et al. doesn't seem to mind, but I have on several occasions noted that the shou can get a bit dry-tasting, temporarily losing punch, sweetness and nuances. Working hypothesis is that it's something to do with drop in temperature, as every time it's happened has been right after sudden cold, or after turning down the thermostat while on travels. I've responded by adding some humidity to the bin (wiping the lid with a wet cloth occasionally), which has done trick so far.

I've come to realise, though, that I have no desire whatsoever to play the role of stressed out mother bear to these fermented pu cubs, and on principle keep my involvement to a minimum. If the cakes can't take care of themselves after I've set them up with a good education and housing, I'll just go back to drinking low maintenance oolongs or whatever. Not taking any nonsense from my tea, and don't want to develop teacd. Hey, isn't that the name of a blog?
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tealifehk
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Tue Nov 14, 2017 5:49 pm

I've found low temperature to stop aging and cause cakes to dry out; I was breaking up several cakes for samples yesterday and found they are much drier and I'm getting much more dust at 23 Celsius with 85% humidity vs 26-33 Celsius with the same humidity level. Relative humidity is an issue. I think people in dry climates who aren't looking to get all into storage may be better off just buying stuff that has been aged naturally in locations where pumidors aren't a necessity, since recreating an ideal climate is extra work and money (especially if humidifiers and heating are required to keep things moving along!
AllanK
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Tue Dec 12, 2017 1:28 pm

I think there may be an inherent fallacy in assuming that the bacteria in tea cannot survive in lower humidity. We are forgetting that bacteria are in this world the ultimate survivor. If bacteria were killed by low humidity then no one in NY State should ever get a cold. I know these are two completely different types of bacteria but I think we should not make the assumption that the bacteria cannot survive under these conditions. While the climate on NY is less than perfect for puerh storage I recently went back and tried a few ripe cakes I have been storing here for a couple of years. They were just fine.It was not a long enough time for them to have aged. We may find in twenty years that tea does age in NY just more slowly.
.m.
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Tue Dec 12, 2017 3:00 pm

tealifehk wrote:
Tue Nov 14, 2017 5:49 pm
I think people in dry climates who aren't looking to get all into storage may be better off just buying stuff that has been aged naturally in locations where pumidors aren't a necessity, since recreating an ideal climate is extra work and money (especially if humidifiers and heating are required to keep things moving along!
The problem is that a lot of us cannot afford to buy any decent 20-25 year old sheng, not to mention anything older, and may never be. :( On the other hand, one can still buy some 10 year old one, with some naturally hot humid storage, and see if it will age further, even if the subsequent change might be much slower. We'll see in 20 years. :o 8-)
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tealifehk
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Tue Dec 12, 2017 3:07 pm

AllanK wrote:
Tue Dec 12, 2017 1:28 pm
I think there may be an inherent fallacy in assuming that the bacteria in tea cannot survive in lower humidity. We are forgetting that bacteria are in this world the ultimate survivor. If bacteria were killed by low humidity then no one in NY State should ever get a cold. I know these are two completely different types of bacteria but I think we should not make the assumption that the bacteria cannot survive under these conditions. While the climate on NY is less than perfect for puerh storage I recently went back and tried a few ripe cakes I have been storing here for a couple of years. They were just fine.It was not a long enough time for them to have aged. We may find in twenty years that tea does age in NY just more slowly.
Actually, the cold is a virus! And the air is full of spores so even if you disinfect something, it can get covered in pathogens and reinfected very easily.
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