06 May, 2013

Sed quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

Mould.  It comes to us all in the end.

Mould 2013

I recently tried out a new location in our house in which to store tea.  That is, my main shelves are currently overflowing and I needed to find some new space.  "That bookshelf looks ideal", methunk.  It was in the same room as the majority of our collection, and therefore would, presumably, share its rather decent aging profile.  So was the reasoning.

Mould 2013

I promptly evicted the books and bazillion operatic CDs from their home, and popped various cakes onto the new-found space.  The results, as you will see from the photographs above and below, are "sub-optimal", to use a statistician's phrase, approximately translating into English as "bloody awful".

Mould 2013

The majority of cakes on those shelves were fine, but some three or four had developed dark wrappers.  In a recent sweep through my collection to organise and catalogue a few rogue pieces, I thought that I'd bring the cakes down that had such wrappers.  Imagine my happiness when I discovered the mould!  Oh my, how we did laugh.  Or cry.  The difference is marginal.

Mould 2013

The reason that these cakes suffered, after some few weeks on the shelf, was because of excess humidity (genius, Holmes) building up in contact with an exterior wall.  Those cakes not touching the exterior wall were fine.  The solution: open up the cakes and brush off the mould with a toothbrush.  You can imagine the sight of your humble correspondent, hunched over the compost bin, scraping bingcha.  I have now moved the plastic CD cases and glossy books (which were impervious to the damp, over several years) touching the exterior wall.  The previously-mouldy cakes are in "quarantine", where they will stay until I deem them fit to return to the population.
C'est la vie.  They were only the 2012 cakes from Essence of Tea, so it's not as if they were eye-wateringly expensive.


Maitre_Tea said...

My condolences.

Any time I hear something like this happening to someone, I do an immediate spot-check of my own collection. Would you happen to know the RH and temperature of the area of the bookshelf? A few weeks for this type of growth seems scary fast.

shah8 said...

I whimpered. That must have been truly damp in that corner. And on 2012 EoT cakes!

apache said...

Oh, my word. Never thought this could happen in the UK without the aid of a pumidor (I'm neutral about pumidor, neither for or against it, and I don't have one and am not planning to have one either). I got mix feelings about this, on one hand this shows the UK does have the enough humidity to age pu but on the others' we aren't immune from mould. I think a cardboard box could act as a buffer if you store the cakes inside it.

I quickly look up EoT 2012 cakes, the cheapest is £38 and I hope it isn't the GFZ! Hope these cakes are ok with the rest which aren't affect by the mould. Surely these are now UK wet storage cakes.


Mighty Tea Monster said...

I wonder what type of mold that is? Is it just me or does that yellowish stuff look a little like the "Jin Hua" mold that grows on the likes of Three Cranes Black tea from Guangxi? Chawangshop sells it I believe and next tea order I will be ordering some of the delectable looking moldy stuff. That brownish green stuff doesn't look appealing though..

Not all mold is bad but that stuff does look like a few different types of mold colonized your tea brick there.. bummer.. or maybe an a serendipitous colony of goodness you are growing there? I think you should have some friends at the lab check it out!

Hektor Konomi said...

Actually, this mold seems very similar to the one in the CNNP Hunan Shouzhu Fuzhuan brick from Chawangshop. Quite a nice tea, very easy on the stomach...

Mighty Tea Monster said...

Huh, what do you know it sure does.. I hadn't noticed that one. I'll have to try that one too.

Hobbes! Don't throw away the mold just yet! It might be delicious! Maybe your on to something glorious!

nada said...

Somehow, I don't have much hope for our UK mould being something delicious.

Sorry to hear about your loss Hobbes - hope it wasn't the Guafengzhai or Bulang!

Mighty Tea Monster said...

Nada is probably right.. those guys in Hunan probably know what they are doing and you are a long ways away from Hunan China...and it looks like you have more than one type of mold growing on that stuff.. the gold color stuff though.. I really wonder what that one is. The greenish brown one.. probably no bueno..I'd still be interested in knowing what your growing there.

I just noticed you guys spell "mould" differently on the other side of the pond...

Hobbes said...

Our area of the world is really rather humid. :)

While the mould made a rapid and immediate departure for the compost bin, I retained 95% of each cake, thankfully. I'm not entirely sure that the growth would have been delicious!

Happily enough, the GFZ was double-wrapped, and therefore avoided the mould...



Rist Van de Weyer said...

You made me a bit paranoid with this post. Our belgium climate is quite comparable to the South of England. Even though it is wet outside, inside our home it's always dry so I store my puerh in a cabinet with a small cup filled with aqua pura (at around 65%). I think I saw something yellow...but it might be the hair from the tips.

Now lets hope I won't obtain a OCD, checking those cakes every hour.

Hobbes said...

Maybe the cakes will turn out like Westvleteren, Belgium's premium fermentation-based product. :)

I'd be the first in the queue to try them, if so...