Some of you already know this. You’re supposed to air out a tea, if it’s a traditionally stored puerh. The problem with traditionally stored tea is that if you don’t air it out, all kinds of nasty, “storage” smell remain, and will affect how much you can enjoy your tea.
This point hasn’t been illustrated as clearly as what I recently did with a bag of tea that a friend brought back for me. It’s from one of my favourite stores in Hong Kong that sells such things. The tea is very wet stored — you can smell the storage from a mile away, and is not for those who don’t like that kind of taste. When I first opened the bag and brewed some, it was horrible. It smelled fishy, moldy, rotten. The first few cups I couldn’t drink at all. I started wondering if I got a bad batch.
The friend, however, knows what he’s doing. When he visited the shop, he noticed that the stuff in the jar, which is what they usually use to fill these smaller orders, was rather moldy. He thought it better to buy some that were “cleaner”, so he asked the owner to show him a few bags of the stuff from the back. The owner duly complied, and my friend picked out some from a good looking bag. This is all good, except, I think, because the bag was relatively unopened, the tea still retained much of the storage smell, and it’s not pretty.
Fast forward two weeks — I’ve had the bag opened for that long, just sitting on my table. I thought it probably best to let it air out a bit, to release some of the more “toxic” flavours from the bag. I tried it again yesterday — no more fishy smell, or rotten carcass. It’s gone. Now, instead, much of the sweeter note that I love from this store emerged. No problems — it’s just a matter of airing out the tea.