Fishy smell in Yixing clay storage pots

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Webley
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Mon Feb 10, 2020 7:20 pm

I have 2 Yixing clay storage containers that have had shou pu-erh in them for the last 1.5 years. Both of them are loose leaves contained. Recently I’ve noticed that upon opening the jars there is a noticeable “fishy” smell. I brewed gong fu style from both jars. They both tasted the same, fishy!!
I’ve read that pu-erhs, especially shous, can pick up some untoward smells from faulty fermentation techniques. I’ve discarded the tea, probably prematurely, and would like to rid the jars of the smell. What’s the best path to take?
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Victoria
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Mon Feb 10, 2020 7:36 pm

I recommend you start by very lightly simmering the pot with a little baking soda and follow the steps outline in Cleaning: Awakening & Resetting Unglazed Ceramics / Yixing
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aet
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Mon Feb 10, 2020 7:42 pm

fish comes from microbes being in presence with higher humidity ( usually very wet stored shu ) , so since the leafs were wet and teapot not open in some very dry environment , the sort of "additional fermentation" occurred.
Before using any sodas or other tricks how to get rid of it, I'd recommend to do the simple restart first. Just boil it in clean water first.
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Bok
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Mon Feb 10, 2020 8:03 pm

Also the soda treatment does not necessarily get rid of odours. You might need to leave some tea leaf in it or charcoal, or probably best let it sit in the sun for some time (if available). Other methods include boiling it with rice.
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Victoria
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Wed Feb 12, 2020 9:19 pm

Bok wrote:
Mon Feb 10, 2020 8:03 pm
Also the soda treatment does not necessarily get rid of odours. You might need to leave some tea leaf in it or charcoal, or probably best let it sit in the sun for some time (if available). Other methods include boiling it with rice.
Actually sodium carbonate (soda ash/baking soda) is effective at quickly removing odors, this is why I recommended it. I should have also recommended adding some vinegar to both neutralize the pH, and remove other odors. Sure you can just simmer in water, this might work, but most often the source of odor is unknown so using both a slightly alkaline base like baking soda, and vinegar (acidic) to the mix will be more effective and less time consuming. Most odors are acidic and baking soda will neutralize them, but other odors have a higher pH so an acidic environment like vinegar will neutralize that situation, removing the cause of the odor.

I recently did an experiment testing three different canisters (metal, Yixing, partially glazed clay) with roasted oolong and was disappointed that the partially glazed clay one gave off a strange odor. Because this canister had been used by the previous owner for pu’erh storage I made sure after getting it to give it a simmering bath in just water and let it dry completely for several weeks. Well, months later, I finally used it in the canister experiment and it still gave off a weird odor that only appeared after a few weeks of storage. Only after a baking soda bath, followed by a vinegar bath, was the odor fully removed. I could have saved time and tea had I done this from the start.
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Bok
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Wed Feb 12, 2020 9:24 pm

@Victoria Maybe the vinegar makes the difference! I found that only sodium percarb, does not get rid off the storage smells. Usually I just resolve this by brewing strong teas a couple of times, then it's gone.
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Victoria
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Wed Feb 12, 2020 9:29 pm

Bok wrote:
Wed Feb 12, 2020 9:24 pm
Victoria Maybe the vinegar makes the difference! I found that only sodium percarb, does not get rid off the storage smells. Usually I just resolve this by brewing strong teas a couple of times, then it's gone.
I’m not a chemist but sodium percarbonate is not sodium carbonate (soda ash/baking soda). I only recommend using sodium percarbonate to remove discoloration and mold, not odors. Hadn’t thought of trying to use it that way. Maybe it will work sometimes. I see googling that sodium percarbonate is used to remove odors in rugs. Has a high pH so is alkaline. Hmm
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