Sunday, November 9, 2014

Tea Caddy

Storage of tea is an important aspect in your hobby of drinking and collecting Chinese tea. This will enable your tea to store well and in some teas to aged properly.

General rules of tea storage are pretty simple.  Tea should be kept away from odours, light and humidity.  The dried Chinese tea leaves in our collection absorbs smells and moisture easily and in many instances may damage your tea and make brewing the tea unpleasant or less desirable.  

Green teas like Longjing must be stored very well.  They would lose their green lustre as well as a reduction in taste and aroma if not stored well.  I recommend that if you enjoy green teas, buy enough to last you 6 months to a year.  This way, you will get fresh tea yearly.  And....pack your tea in food grade bags and store them in smaller containers,  Refrigerate your tea if possible.  Freezing the tea is another good option.  This will keep the green tea as fresh as possible.  The smaller containers would also extend the 'shelf life' as only small amount of tea leaves are exposed to room temperature at any one time.  

You will also realized that oolongs are also sold in different degrees of roast.  You have the very light roast like Taiwanese high mountain oolongs and Fukien Tie Kuan Yin that range from very light to very heavy roasted levels.  For the light roasted oolongs, the tea is fresh tasting and the tea leaves look vibrant green and supple.  These teas, I would recommend be 'ziplocked' and refrigerated to keep the freshness. As for the high roasted oolongs, ziplocking the tea and storing the tea in a tea caddy would suffice. Some of my friends insist storing their heavy roasted oolongs in a more 'airtight' container.  

A tea caddy is a a container to store your tea.  The pix you see are part of my tea caddy collection.  The 1st 2 pix are actually called mizusashi.  They are actually used in Japanese tea ceremonies as water storage containers.  Water is poured out from these mizusashi to refill the water kettle.  The mizusashi I owned are about 6 inches high and 5 inches wide, suitable to store a broken up regular sized pu erh cake.  The 1st pix is Seto ware while the 2nd pix is Kyo ware, which refers to the style and I believe, the Japanese provinces where these containers were made.  Yes, the ceramic lid just rests on the container which means these improvised tea caddies are not air tight.  I fold a pu erh wrapper and place the folded wrapper on top of my tea cakes when I store pu erh in these tea caddies.  

Pix 3 and 4 are pix of a ceramic steamer used in Chinese cooking.  Such steamers are used to cook soup and herbal tonics.  They are very pretty and I converted one of these steamers into a tea caddy. 

The 5th pix is a English made tea caddy.  The lid came with an inner rubber- like lining that will keep the tea caddy 'reasonably airtight'.

The 6th pix is a paper box tea caddy.  When you make a purchase of tea at a Chinese tea shop, you will most of the time have your tea packed in such a container.  These containers are good and can be reused many times.

The teas stored in my tea caddies are liu bao, pu erh and high roasted oolongs.  

You will also see many types of tea caddies that are made from different materials and come in an assortment of shapes.  As long as your container serve to store your tea well, it is a great tea caddy.

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