In 1993, one of our current growers helped her Grandmother store this tea in ceramic pots undisturbed until now. No fussing, no additional baking and of course no sunlight that would damage the tea.
During the years of storage, Maillard reactions crawled along at a snail's pace. The original fresh floral notes long gone, replaced with a wonder of new flavors quite unusual for tea--deeply caramelized honey, heavily roasted orchids and BBQ without even a tiny hint of bitterness, astringency or baked tea flavor.
We store this tea well sealed in the freezer to stop the aging and preserve what we believe to be the peak flavor and texture. If you want to see changes over the next several years a ceramic vessel is an excellent choice. Be warned however that aging for extended periods will eventually break down the BBQ like molecules provided by the Maillard reactions. For more details on extended aging, see our 58 year old Honey Orchid made by the same Grandmother.
Storage: Store unused portions sealed in an airtight bag away from sunlight in the freezer at 5F/-15C or below.
Brewing water: Earth2O brand mineral water most closely matches the slightly hard natural spring water on Phoenix Mountain and produces the finest results. Soft water, distilled water and hard water will ruin this tea. Tap water varies wildly and is best avoided as well. If you don't have Earth2O water available please see good substitutions on our water page.
Brewing temperature: 100C/212F
Brewing method: 3-5g tea leaves (~1-2 heaping Tablespoons), 60-80ml (~1/4-1/3 cup) water each time with quick infusions in a Chinese gaiwan or a small pot.
Notes: Small quick infusions showcase the changing flavors of each cup. Longer brewing times in larger quantities of water end up more homogeneous, but still very good results.