So, I dried the tea in the sun for 5 afternoons. From my reading, shou is either dried quickly in a hot dryer or is allowed to dry in the sun until <20% humidity remains in the tea. We have incredibly dry weather at the moment so drying the tea is not a problem. I am surprised how the fermenting odors left the tea. Now it smells like nothing, except maybe like minerals, graphite. The tea is dark brown with some nice Cha Tou.
|Sun-drying my shou|
|Single steep of the shou leaf. (10 March 2015)|
|I used maybe a bit over a teaspoon of dried leaf.|
|"Before" photo of the tea, what a change eh? (25 Jan. 2015)|
The amount of time needed to change the tea is similar to the time needed for sauerkraut, a traditional food produced in crock ware in my cold climate for Vitamin C supplementation. Sauerkraut is a necessary food in cold northern latitudes when fruits are unavailable. The only other substantial source of this vitamin in North American winters is whale skin. Due to refrigeration, we have lost knowledge of crock fermentation and food storage. The crocks are now found in barns, garages and antique shops. I believe this type of storage is a viable method for storing and fermenting puerh tea without using plastic wrap or plastic-lined refrigerators. I need more crocks for my growing tea collection.
Until then, I will look forward to mid-September when I can give my shou a good tasting. Hopefully a good rest over the summer will bring out more flavors and clarify the brew. Come autumn, I also plan to steam this batch and press it into a brick, or beeng shape. I need to figure out what to use as a weight, and that will determine the final shape.
Requiescat in Pace.