By the middle of July summer the humidity descends over our region of New England. While I am not a fan of this weather, I do welcome it as the time to move our stash of sheng Pu-erh beeng cha and tuo-cha to it’s ‘summer place’ where it can drink in the warm, moisture-laden air. I cannot re-create the conditions that tea shops in Hong Kong and other places in south China have during the summer months ( seasonal drenching rain, oppressive humidity ), but I make sure to take advantage of our New England-style humidity as much as I can.
This is what I do. I place our Pu-erh ( full tongs and single cakes wrapped in the original paper wrappers (or wrapped in pieces of brown paper bags if the original wrapper is damaged or missing) in low, open boxes and tuck them underneath a long table on our 3-season, screened porch. No porch? Small amounts of Pu-erh could be placed in a box and kept near an open window ( out of the sun ) for the same effect.
In this protected place, the tea can spend 4-5 weeks swaddled in warmth and humidity without getting wet. The tea is never in the sun, and rain cannot reach them. I rotate the cakes weekly so that each cake or tuo has a chance to be on top of the stacks. I put single units of Pu-erh in one box, and tongs in a second box. I must say that the fragrant aroma of Pu-erh wafting about the porch on a warm summer’s evening is an added delight.
This exposure to humidity gives the bacteria in the tea a beneficial ‘breath of life’ and keeps the leaf from drying out and turning brittle. During the rest of the year I keep our Pu-erh in the basement, where it is even in temperature, cooler than warmer, slightly moist ( old house, dirt floor! ) and dark.