Liu Bao tea is a rather unknown subtype of tea and some people don’t know how they should store it. Liu Bao is similar to pu-erh tea as it gets better the older it becomes. This is why optimal storage is important to get the most out of your tea. This article gives a complete overview of how to store Liu Bao tea. It discusses several dos and don’ts and the reason why.
Liu Bao is best stored in a dark and odor-free environment where there is some airflow and a stable temperature. Humidity is equally important and should be between 50% and 70%. You can store Liu Bao in a pumidor, but keep in mind that this won’t have the same effect as natural storage in a humid climate such as Hong Kong.
Liu Bao cha is a fermented type of tea from Cangwu in Guangxi province. It’s similar to shou pu-erh but there are some noticeable differences. The main similarity between Liu Bao and shou pu-erh is that they both go through artificial fermentation.
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Tea leaves are piled in a hot and humid environment to initiate fermentation. This is the case for Liu bao and shou pu-erh so the production process is very similar. This implies that after production, optimal storage conditions for Liu Bao and shou pu-erh are similar as well.
How to store Liu Bao Tea
Liu Bao and pu-erh tea (both sheng and shou) thrive and even improve in certain storage conditions. You can find a list below of the things you need to keep in mind when storing your precious Liu Bao. After reading through this list, you should know how to store Liu Bao.
Keep Liu Bao away from other odors
Just like any other tea, Liu Bao is really sensitive to other odors. If you store your Liu Bao in an area where there are many other smells, chances are high that the tea will absorb those smells and lose its own character.
That is why I recommend storing your tea in a place where there are no other odors. Some people store tea in the kitchen cupboard, but this is a really bad idea. A kitchen is usually the place in a house where you would find a wide variety of different smells.
If you store your tea in a separate room, keep in mind that even other teas might affect your Liu Bao. If there is Jasmine tea, or a fragrant oolong tea stored close to some Liu Bao, the aromas will mix and both teas will be affected by each other.
Even the type of storage container can greatly affect the tea that is stored in it. If you’re using a plastic box that has a strong plastic smell, it will be absorbed by the tea and show itself once you brew a cup.
Keep Liu Bao away from direct sunlight
Just like any other tea, Liu Bao is best kept away from direct sunlight. Sunlight can affect tea leaves in a negative way so it’s best to store your Liu Bao tea in a dark place and in a non-transparent container.
UV light breaks down some chemical components in the tea leaves, resulting in possibly lighter tea leaves with a different flavor profile. There is debate about the exact process that happens when sunlight interacts with tea leaves, but the result is best avoided.
Liu Bao needs some airflow
Liu Bao tea and pu-erh tea are different from other types of tea such as oolong tea, green tea, and white tea. Both teas are characterized by microbial fermentation. Liu Bao and shou pu-erh are artificially fermented, while sheng pu-erh ferments naturally over time.
Oolong tea, green tea, and hong cha don’t have the same kind of microbial fermentation so those teas are best stored in airtight containers without any flow of oxygen. Teas that are characterized by microbial fermentation need airflow to keep the microbes alive.
Fermented teas get better with age because of the microbial activity that is going on. If there was no microbial activity, the tea wouldn’t age and would become ‘lifeless’. However, there is a thin line between too much airflow and too little airflow.
In an ideal situation, your tea should get some airflow, but not too much. Just keep it in a neutral place and don’t put it next to a vent or fan. Liu Bao tea needs to breathe.
Keep temperature stable
Another factor to keep in mind for Liu Bao storage is temperature. As discussed above, there is microbial activity going on in the tea leaves, and that works best in a stable environment.
It’s difficult to keep the exact temperature unless you have a professional storage facility, but most people don’t have access to that. If you store tea at home, try storing it in a place with minor temperature fluctuations throughout the year.
It’s natural that there are a few fluctuations, but it’s better to avoid huge differences in temperature.
Humidity and Liu Bao
Humidity is another important factor when storing and potentially aging fermented tea. The microbes in the tea need some humidity to thrive, but too much humidity might cause mold.
There are various factors that determine the optimal humidity to store Liu Bao but a humidity between 50% and 70% seems to do well. These are just some guidelines if you try storing Liu Bao at home somewhere in the west. Just like airflow, the key is finding the right balance, especially in the west.
Areas like Hong Kong and Malaysia have a more humid climate and have proved to be ideal for Liu Bao storage. Finding the right humidity there is less of an issue because the climate takes care of (almost) everything.
Liu Bao in a pumidor?
People in the west who have some pu-erh cakes usually store them in a kind of ‘pumidor’. This is a simulated environment in which they try to keep a stable temperature and humidity. It’s similar to a humidor for cigars.
This can also work for Liu Bao tea, but no one knows for sure how this will turn out in 20, 30, or even 40 years. Storing tea in a pumidor is something very recent so it hasn’t been done that long.
This means that it could be a good alternative if you want to store some tea, but I wouldn’t buy tons of Liu Bao to age and sell in 20 years. Right now, there is not enough evidence and there are many factors that could potentially ruin your tea. Be wary if you spend a lot of money on Liu Bao to age in a pumidor.