Storage (4) - Purple Clay Jars (5 October 2008)

按下圖片取得640x480解像度 Click to view 640x480        After setting up the Cloud's Tea Diary, Cloud often receives e-mails and private messages with questions related to Puerh tea. Those questions are good questions. Beginners may also have similar doubts when they start their Puerh tea journeys. Thus, Cloud decides to gather these Q&As to the Cloud's Tea Diary so that the later comers may make reference to my answers.


       The Puerh tea lover, D, further asked, "I also read somewhere that purple clay jars are good for storing raw Puerh while porcelain jars are more suitable for ripe Puerh. It is really a very interesting topic as a lot of people are really concerned with proper storage and aging."

       In fact, in relation to how to store Puerh tea at home, Cloud has already put down the details as an appendix in the First Step to Chinese Puerh Tea (hardback edition) titled "How to Store Puerh Tea at Home (Part I)" and "How to Store Puerh Tea at Home (Part II)" in the Art of Tea magazine issue No. 3. If you are interested in learning the details, please read these relevant articles. Cloud did not intend to replace these articles by this diary. This diary is an interactive way to further elaborate based upon the articles. 按下圖片取得640x480解像度 Click to view 640x480

Nature of Purple Clay

       Purple clay is a special ceramic which does not have a glaze layer on the surface. It can be used directly after sintering. It provides certain degree of air permeability. However, Cloud has a doubt that how much it will allow air to be exchanged through the wall of the jar assuming the cover is tightly sealed.

       Even though the wall of purple clay jar has the nature of air permeability, Cloud believes that the rate of air exchange will not be too high as the purple clay has a certain degree of density. Nevertheless, Cloud accepts that the permeability of purple clay, to certain extent, is higher than that of porcelain which is absolutely not air-permeable.

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Bamboo Bark Wrapper / Paper Bags

       However, by comparing with other kinds of storage materials such as bamboo bark wrappers and paper bags, it is obvious that the air permeability of these materials is higher than that of purple clay and porcelain.

       If we further compare the paper bag and bamboo bark wrapper, one will notice that the bamboo bark wrapper will provide the maximum air exchange. But, is the bamboo bark wrapper the best outer wrapper material? It depends on the storage conditions. If it is for the wet storage, the bamboo bark wrapper is quite suitable as it will not wear out easily under the high humid conditions. However, if it is for home storage, using a paper bag to contain a stack of tea cakes is cleaner and easier. Besides, the humidity resistance of paper bag is higher than that of the bamboo bark wrapper because the bamboo bark wrapper may not fully cover up the entire stacks of tea cakes.

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Views to "Purple Clay Jars for Raw Puerh" vs. "Porcelain Jars for Ripe Puerh"

       Cloud would like to comment on the above statement in this way. The statement may be true. As the young raw Puerh needs further aging, putting it into a purple clay container will surely be better than putting it into a porcelain jar. However, in fact, ripe tea also needs a certain degree of aging for a slight improvement in tastes. Cloud doesn't see the reason why ripe tea cannot be put into a purple clay jar although the jar may absorb some ripe tea aromas (in fact, it could only be a very mild absorption). Definitely, as the purple clay jar absorbs odor, purple clay jar storing ripe tea at the very first beginning should always contain ripe tea with similar aromas in the next occasion.

       From my point of view, aging young raw puerh tea without any jar is already good enough actually. Therefore, whether one will consider to use purple clay jars to store and age their teas is totally a personal preference.

       As Cloud said in 2008-10-01 Storage (3) - Ceramic/Porcelain Jars, Cloud would prefer to use purple clay jars for gathering chipped off pieces in order to get them prepared to be brewed in the near future. For the long term aging storage purpose, Cloud would prefer paper materials or bamboo bark wrappers.

5 October 2008 wrote in English
Cloud (Hong Kong)

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