In response to his recent post on aging, "Ideas of Proper Puerh Storage," I observed to Marshaln that my tea stash is aging much better here in the humid south than in drier California. My shengs are darkening visibly quicker than in Los Angeles.
Mind you, a humidifier helped to overcome the low relative humidity of coastal Southern California, but the texture of the air here seems thicker, the wetness more naturally and constantly moistened, without the ups and downs of %RH caused by an emptying and refilled humidifier. The relative humidity here averages between 56% and 82% over the course of a day. Only slightly lower than Hong Kong (see Average Conditions and view the table: 60%-87% for Hong Kong according to BBC).
But the averages don't give the whole picture: weather here works in cycles of 3-10 days: cold temperatures rise until hot weather usually breaks into rain, which cools temperature. There are quite a few days at 100% relative humidity. Of course, not indoors, but indoors on days like today, it can get as high as 87% RH.
Of course, many of my teas were made from 2004-2007 and are hitting their adolescence, beginning the second stage of aging. This 6-8 year demarcation seemed arbitrary before, but perhaps this sudden darkening proves this adage. As Gertrude Stein would say, that "there's a there, there." I guess given their ages, I couldn't have chosen a better time to move the tea to someplace more consistently humid.
To date, I've seen no visible signs of mold on any cakes. So far, so good. Let's hope it stays that way as it warms up.