airing out cakes, wet storage, mold, etc

Puerh and other heicha
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wave_code
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Mon Feb 10, 2020 7:31 am

Thought maybe it would be good to have a general thread for discussing strategies for airing out cakes, getting rid of unwanted storage notes, mold problems, so on since I couldn't find a particular single one.

I opened up a cake today I was planning to finally dig into, 90s liu bao that I am guessing was produced by Three Cranes from the shape. I had a sample of it broken off another cake in a little baggie before and enjoyed it. The cake was wrapped in plastic with just a hand written sticker label- it came from a tea house in Taiwan via a friend, apparently the tea house was sold to them by a private collector so I guess it was a private order production. When I opened the cake though I noticed a fair amount of white frost mold on the outside of cake and hadn't seen any on my sample. I don't know the whole history of it but its obviously seen some damper storage at some point. I'm not terrified of musty smells or a tiny bit of mold or I probably wouldn't like liu bao in general, but I'm worried if I start to drink this cake too soon a lot of flavor will get masked by the mold and storage notes. It smells pretty musty, not offensively so but it might overpower other parts of the tea.

Now I have it loosely wrapped up in the plastic it came in and in a paper bag, but I'm not sure if that is enough or too much airflow?
I recall my friend who got the tea that the person who sold it recommended rather to break of a piece a day or two before drinking and to just let it sit out in open air - anyone tried this with more wet stored teas with any success? Or better to put the cake in a paper bag and let it slowly mellow out over some weeks? Or better to break it up?
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Mon Feb 10, 2020 9:29 pm

wave_code wrote:
Mon Feb 10, 2020 7:31 am
Thought maybe it would be good to have a general thread for discussing strategies for airing out cakes, getting rid of unwanted storage notes, mold problems, so on since I couldn't find a particular single one.

I opened up a cake today I was planning to finally dig into, 90s liu bao that I am guessing was produced by Three Cranes from the shape. I had a sample of it broken off another cake in a little baggie before and enjoyed it. The cake was wrapped in plastic with just a hand written sticker label- it came from a tea house in Taiwan via a friend, apparently the tea house was sold to them by a private collector so I guess it was a private order production. When I opened the cake though I noticed a fair amount of white frost mold on the outside of cake and hadn't seen any on my sample. I don't know the whole history of it but its obviously seen some damper storage at some point. I'm not terrified of musty smells or a tiny bit of mold or I probably wouldn't like liu bao in general, but I'm worried if I start to drink this cake too soon a lot of flavor will get masked by the mold and storage notes. It smells pretty musty, not offensively so but it might overpower other parts of the tea.

Now I have it loosely wrapped up in the plastic it came in and in a paper bag, but I'm not sure if that is enough or too much airflow?
I recall my friend who got the tea that the person who sold it recommended rather to break of a piece a day or two before drinking and to just let it sit out in open air - anyone tried this with more wet stored teas with any success? Or better to put the cake in a paper bag and let it slowly mellow out over some weeks? Or better to break it up?
For wetter storage, there are several things you can try:
- store the tea in a non-sealed container (if humidity in the house is not extremely low)
- use a very porous teapot (like duanni)
- do two rinses instead of one
- you can also preheat the tea with a tea refreshener just before your session

I hope this helps!
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Stephen
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Mon Feb 10, 2020 9:47 pm

For cakes that I want to air out I generally break them up and put them into ceramic jars. My preference is for glazed ceramic jars. My tea storage conditions are moderate so this works out well. The teas tend to mellow with time and strong storage notes diminish. If I can't do that then I'll put the cake in a brown paper bag and put it in my tea cabinet.
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wave_code
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Sat Apr 04, 2020 8:35 am

ok so got a bit of a storage dilemma here, looking for a bit of guidance from those with more experience with this...
I recently sampled a bunch of liu bao and found a few I liked, one in particular I liked a lot and was a good value so I picked up a 500g box. its 2014/2017 so not super old, but its a slightly heavier fermentation and has very present but pleasant storage notes. Now that I got the box, the box is VERY moldy smelling so you can tell it was probably in pretty damp storage. I can smell it in my living room sitting a few meters away. Both for allergic/unpleasant odor reasons and for the tea I'm trying to figure out what to do. I suppose options are
-take the tea out and put the box somewhere to see if the smell dissipates a bit over time
-take the tea out and leave it in the inner bag and throw out the box
-get a ceramic container, put the tea in and throw out everything
-leave it as is and put it inside a plastic bag or container

my main concern is I don't want the mold or even the mold smell to spread to other teas, much less other paper in the room (books, etc). since there is a small hole in the bag there is obviously some slow air exchange and this has given the tea a lot of its character. I don't want to completely lose that, but I also don't feel I need the tea to get any more musty. I'm leaning towards at least tossing the box (it hurts ones inner collector/archiving tendencies, but so be it!), but I'm not sure whether to leave the tea in the bag (its in a foil plastic inner bag, not paper) just as-is, or if I need to find something else to store it in. While I assume my sample probably had aired out a tiny bit due to being broken up/repacked/etc my goal is to try and keep the tea "as is" rather than try and age it further or get rid of storage notes.
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Sat Apr 04, 2020 11:58 am

@wave_code
You may check this
https://mgualt.com/tealog/2019/10/12/20 ... e-outcome/
The author had some promising results with "fermenting out" the mustiness of his tea.

I'd probably air the tea out first, maybe even refresh it in the oven on a very low setting (careful not to burn) or in slow-cooker, to draw some of the smell out. Then i'd put it into storage for further aging until the taste improves (may take years). Maybe i'd rehydrate it with Boveda pack.
And maybe i'd put some chen-pi (aged tangerin peel) with it: it may help neutralizing some of the odor while giving it a nice (IMO) citrus aroma.

I had some musty liu bao that improved this way, and other that did not. I also have a traditional HK storage liu an, with leaves that look sort of grey (like they went through a serious wet storage), yet tasting very clean - this supports the hypothesis that the mustiness can be "fermented out" under the right storage.
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Stephen
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Sat Apr 04, 2020 12:05 pm

@wave_code I'd probably do option 3, but I'm not a fan of storing in plastic. Option 2 could also work. If you really want that box you could put it in it's own plastic bag.
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wave_code
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Sat Apr 04, 2020 3:21 pm

interesting on the process, certainly something to keep in mind for the future.
in this case though my predicament is that I actually like the tea exactly as it is. my issue is just more with the box and not wanting the mustiness to spread so much through my apartment or to other teas but also not wanting to loose the character the tea has now. I spoke with the vendor a bit, and the tea was wet stored in Malaysia to get the heavier fermentation and betel nut notes faster. Once they got it they then stored it relatively sealed, so if left out especially in a sunny area it would probably fade pretty significantly over a few weeks. It tends to get very dry here in the summer though so I think for now I'll see if I can get a plastic container that doesn't give off a smell or try a heavy cardboard and store the whole thing in there, box and all, and see if I can contain everything that way. It would seem kinda silly to air and dry out the tea only to re-hydrate it.

In the meantime the cake with the white frost I have seems to have been doing great in a paper bag and is ready to move to either a small ceramic or glass jar now.
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