A Tea Addict's Journal

Hong Kong is wet!

February 13, 2007 · 7 Comments

I got back, got off the plane, and the familiar scent of a slightly damp city graced my nose. Hong Kong is always wet, and it seems like the super wet weather of spring is hitting early this year.

This leaves me a bit uneasy with my tea stash here. In Beijing I never worry about moisture, because it’s always too dry there (I put two bowls of water in my tea cabinet, so to make sure that the water doesn’t run out before I return). Here, though, you can feel the wetness.

This is where the tea was stored

The place, as you can see, is not ideal. It’s next to the windows, so when the windows are open (as it was when I came back) there was a slight breeze. It brings a lot of moisture through the air. Although what’s stored there are just two tongs (the other loose cakes are in a paperbag on one of the bookshelves), I worry about it. I could sort of smell the tong wrapping. I opened one of the tongs up to check… the cake almost feels damp. It’s wet all right. Time to move them.

So I cleared out a little corner of one of the bookshelves and put my tongs there. Take a peek

I need to clear the area out a little better, but it will do. I am thinking of making one shelf tea related stuff, if my dad will let me. After all, I don’t have a room in this place and sleeps on the murphy bed in the study.

Other than my puerh stash, I also got a nice package in the mail:

These are tea samples from Mr. Lochan of Darjeeling. They’re actually all big bags… 100-200g each, I think. That’s a lot of tea to drink. I might give some to the Best Tea House folks to try.

Anyway, time to turn in. I think I am going to deliver Rosa’s tea tomorrow (which, incidentally… put my luggage over the weight limit…)

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7 responses so far ↓

  • wisdom_sun // February 13, 2007 at 5:11 pm | Reply

    Ah, good to be home, isn’t it. Goodness, I don’t know if I am salivating over your teas, or I am salivating over your collection of books…

    If you feel it is too damp now, have you considered bringing your tongs back to Beijing? For when the weather changes in a month or two (¡°‡ßÄÏ¡±), unless you have a dehumidifier/ air-con running, your cakes enclosed in a tong sitting in an unventilated corner will… hey, but I always think Hong Kong traditional storage is just fine, so perhaps there’s nothing to worry about after all.

    Incidentally, what about those painting scrolls in your first picture? Don’t you worry about them getting molded and mildewed?

  • MarshalN // February 14, 2007 at 9:49 pm | Reply

    I think it’s better to store it here than in Beijing. Beijing is too dry. It’s especially obvious when I’ve tried teas that were stored on storeshelves in Beijing for a while… they’re terrible.

  • wisdom_sun // February 15, 2007 at 5:11 am | Reply

    Really? Is it because they don’t age at all? Do you think the so-called “Strict Dry-Storage (¼ƒÇ¬‚})” Puerhs will end up having the same problem down the road (or even now)?

  • MarshalN // February 15, 2007 at 7:51 am | Reply

    I think “strict dry storage” doesn’t mean dry.  It just means not too wet.

    If it’s too dry I think teas won’t age at all.  Good luck trying that if you live in, say, Arizona.

  • Aged Margaret’s Hope Darjeeling | A Tea Addict's Journal // February 11, 2011 at 10:52 pm | Reply

    […] few years ago, Mr. Rajiv Lochan of Lochan Tea sent me a few really big bags of samples.  I’ve had some in the intervening years, but never quite finished any of them despite my […]

  • DM // February 12, 2011 at 10:25 pm | Reply

    Fascinating topic. I’ve heard many people say that too-dry storage will permanently ruin the tea. Explanations include killing off the microbiota, drying tea oils, etc.

    Problem for me is that none of the explanations quite compute. For example, many (most?) microorganisms that live in variably dry conditions adapt to extreme desiccation by either going dormant – just drying up, growing a thicker skin, or otherwise changing form – or converting themselves into spores to grow when moisture returns. And the evaporation of oily substances should not be much affected by humidity.

    So I would expect ripening to be slowed or stopped, but not the potential for later ripening. One might be concerned that the “goodies” would be depleted during a few years’ dry storage. But if cakes continue to improve for decades when moist, this is also questionable.

    I’ve heard/read similar arguments made many times with respect to cigars, by persons of eminent authority, on both sides of the question. One school is that drought=death; the other is that if not bruised while brittle, a gently rehydrated Montecristo #1 will be fully restored even after years at low RH.

    It would be wonderful to have an open discussion, on these virtual pages or elsewhere, so aficionados could weigh the diverse opinions, explanations and experiences, and draw their own conclusions.


    • MarshalN // February 12, 2011 at 10:54 pm | Reply

      I think too much drying perhaps does not permanently kills the tea, but I can say with certainty that too dry an environment will damage the tea in the sense that, after such storage, the tea will not taste good. It is probably true that you can revive it with more moisture, but that’s a lot of opportunity cost.

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