Tag Archives: Puer Tea storage



Pu’er tea is generally a compressed tea that comes in many different shapes and sizes. They are also available in dry leaves loose form called maocha. The compression and shapes are for ease of transportation in the past, when teas were carried by mule caravan from Yunnan to Tibet through the famous Ancient Tea Horse Road 茶馬道.

One of compressed tea shape is the brick Pu’er tea. They are dried tea leaves that were pressed into brick shapes since the ancient times. Brick shaped Puer were explored more widely in the 1960s with the first prototype, Jinggu test brick tea. It was subsequently developed into the tea brick that was popularly known as Cultural Revolution brick tea 文革砖茶.

Perhaps the more sought after ones are those done in early 1970s. Some of them have wonderful jujube and ginseng taste. During that period, there were many research and experiments done on fermenting tea to create shou cha. Some of these brick Pu’er tea has the combination of shou and sheng cha, the 30/70 seems to be popular during the 1970s and 1980s.

Brick shape Pu’er tea comes in many sizes and weight. The usual Cultural Revolution brick tea weight is 250grams. There are also some other sizes like 1kg and 500g.

In early 1990s, there was an unusual batch of brick Pu’er tea which was done in 300g size. This tea is unique because it was over compressed. The tea was very hard and dense. It was not known whether the over compression was intentionally done or not. Although the weight is higher, the 300g brick is much smaller in size than the standard 250g brick size. New wrapper has to be printed for this tea, a smaller wrapper with higher weight indication.

The picture below shows a comparison of size between the 300g and 250g brick tea of almost the same era. The heavier 300g brick tea is obviously much smaller than the 250g tea.


The notion of over compression tea is very interesting from the storage and aging point of view. With higher density and compression, the teas are less susceptible to external environment. It will oxidize rather than ferment in its aging process. From tasting experience, an aged well compressed tea seems to retain a lot of its intrinsic quality and also free from external odours and taste character.

This is one of the many observations and experiences which sets the foundation of my understanding for storing and aging Pu’er tea. There are many ways to store and aged Pu’er tea. All methods have their followers and critics and the topic is fiercely debated often. Eventually, there are too many variables and it is up to each individual to choose their own method of storing and aging their Pu’er teas.

Personally for me, keeping tea away from external environment is important, as I store and age them in warm and humid environment. This is done by sealing all the Pu’er tea. Sealing prevent external odour from affecting the tea. It also prevents the high external moisture from inducing fermentation process whilst allowing the desirable oxidation process to take place.

This 300g brick tea is a wonderfully aged Pu’er tea. Due to its high compression, the aging process is slow and steady. It retains all the character and goodness of the tea. The tea quality was excellent when it was freshly made. With good foundation and proper aging process for more than two decades, it has developed into a very clean, smooth and full bodied with fruity character tea. This is certainly one of my favourite Pu’er tea.


Tribute 貢


Finding an old or ancient tea is definitely determined solely by fate. On one fateful day, a tea collector brought a tong of early 1980s unopened Guǎng Yún Gòng Bǐng, 廣雲貢餅. I have found similar tea from similar era before offered by another collector but sadly it was badly stored and was kept exposed to hot and humid environment.  It tasted funny and bland and I  have to reject that tea with great reluctance. What a pity! 😦

Now, a totally sealed tong, unopened since early 1980s was presented to me (in 2013) to open it. What a great opportunity! 🙂

Early 1980s Guangyun Gong Beeng - Sealed tong
Early 1980s Guangyun Gong Beeng – Sealed tong

This tea is call Guǎng Yún Gòng Bǐng, 廣雲貢餅, which is made from tea leaves from Yunnan and Guangdong since the 1960s and the production continued to 1990s. The cakes from 1970s onwards are made solely from tea leaves from Guangdong. It is made using special recipe and the tea was so good that it can be used to pay tribute to the Emperor. That is why the word Tribute or Gòng 貢 is added to its name.

Of course those 1960s or 1970s ones are said to be special and superior but to have a perfectly stored tong of early 1980s tea right in front of you is really a blessed opportunity.

The tong was opened and the tea leaves were brewed.  The taste was really sensational and special… sweet, aromatic, full of flavour and has many of the character of a great tea…good yun… great Qi…captivating complexity and mesmerizing. Indeed it was a really special and wonderful experience.

The brew
The brew

The tea leaves are fresh, due to its well kept condition which allows it to age gracefully whilst keeping all its goodness intact. It is almost perfect in many ways.  The collector was kind enough to offer me a piece and it has been one of the precious tea in my collection since then.

Brewed tea leaves
Brewed tea leaves

This experience was one of the many opportunities for me to taste aged dry-sealed vs. exposed storage condition of the same tea.

I also have a few pieces of the same source 1970s Cultural Revolution Brick from 2 different collectors who also stored them differently for 4 decades, one exposed and the other, dry-sealed. The dry-sealed tea tasted so much better than the exposed one.

Storage for aging Puer has been a widely debatable topic but it would be a more fruitful debate if all parties have the experience of tasting decades old tea stored in different conditions.  Otherwise, it is just a debate of presumptive perceptions.

Many would agree that the choice on how we store and age Puer tea depends largely on the climatic conditions of the place we intend age the tea.  In the place where I aged the tea, the climate is constantly hot and humid around 31.1°C (88°F) , RH  83%, throughout the year.  After years of relentless of studies and experiment and also the tasting opportunities offered by different collectors on different storage methods,  my preference is definitely aging Puer tea in dry-sealed storage in this climatic condition.  This method appears to achieve what I wanted in aged old tea, i.e. hygienic, clean, smooth, sweet, mellow, captivating complexity whilst still preserving its original vigour, aroma, body and taste.

Nonetheless, we are all free to choose any storage method we perceived to be right. However, in whatever storage and aging method we choose for aging Puer tea, it is very important that we must monitor, taste and analyse the teas’ changing character throughout its’ aging process.

The only way to understand this is through constant and habitual due diligence to monitor the tea changing character over the years under different storage conditions. Don’t just store the tea and hope that it will be good in future. Follow its’ aging process and understand it. Taste other tea that has been stored in different storage conditions too.  There is no shortcut or other way apart from our own relentless pursuit and studies over a very long period of time.