Clothing is an art, a practical art. While providing concealment, warmth, and protection for the body, it also provides the enjoyment of beauty. The clewing of tea is the same. It is the packaging that provides the proper preservation for tea, as well as tea-related artistic enjoyment. In fact, the packaging of any product has these dual function. They can all be called clothing, or even fashion. But the packaging for tea is demanding from both perspectives.
Tea leaves have very strong absorbency of moisture and odour, Tea polyphenol, chlorophyll, and other fragrant substances within tea leaves are very prone to oxidation. Therefore, tea must avoid sunlight, air, moisture, odour, and high temperature. The functional requirement for the packaging is quite demanding. On the other hand, the consumption of tea is much more than just quenching of thirst; it is an elevation to spiritual enjoyment. Therefore, from an aesthetic point of view, the packaging of tea must not only be pretty and visually appealing, it must also be artistically compatible to the character of tea, so that tea drinkers can start their spiritual enjoyment with the packaging.
To most people, the aesthetic purpose of packaging seems to be more important. While providing a visual enjoyment, it helps with the perception of the tea's quality. be it superior, ordinary, or unique. The role of the packaging is especially important when it comes to the high grade teas that are often given out as gifts, However, few people realize that the visual aesthetics of packaging is nonetheless secondary. The preservative role of packaging is much more important.
Over the centuries, the Chinese were very aware of the importance of packaging and storage to preserve the quality of tea. Even though they lacked the materials and technology to best preserve the tea, they had their own ways to remedy these deficiencies.
In those days, packaging and storage were the same thing. The most common storage containers were ceramic pots and jars. These type of containers are very good at protecting tea against exposure to sunlight, moisture, and odours. Some more careful tea drinkers also put calcium oxide, commonly known as lime, at the bottom of the jar, before putting the tea inside. Calcium oxide is extremely absorbent of water; it keeps the storage environment dry. It also absorbs the bitter grassy taste from fresh green tea, making the tea's fragrance purer. As modern industry began appearing in China, metal cans, particularly steel cans, became very popular at one point. Steel cans were easy to carry around. They often had pretty images printed on them, which strengthened its aesthetic function. But, comparing to ceramic containers, metal containers made no progress in the preservative functions. Modern materials and technologies change constantly.
Simple packaging now can provide sufficient preservation for tea. The cheapest and must effective packaging is vacuum package with aluminium foil. It completely insulates the tea from oxygen, moisture, and odours, satisfying the basic preservative requirements. This is why aluminium foil
vacuum packaging is the most widely used form of inner packaging for commercial tea nowadays However, there is one important factor that packaging cannot solve. This is the temperature of storage.
We normally pay little attention to the tempera in which our tea is stored. But temperature significantly affect tea quality. Even vacuum packaging cannot protect tea from unfavourable temperatures. A bag of vacuum packaged freshly roasted green tea, after being stored in an environment of 30 degrees Celsius for a month, will experience severe degradation to its smell and colour. The colour and taste of its brew will also change significantly. On the other hand, if stored in an environment of 10 degrees Celsius below 0, even after a year, the quality of the tea will barely change. Low temperature environment can very effectively maintain dryness, slow down oxidation, and preserve the freshness of tea.
For a typical modem family, the most convenient place to keep tea in low temperature is, of course, the refrigerator. But please keep in mind of one potential problem: the odours from the various foods that are kept in fridge can be very unfavourable to tea quality Therefore, make sure the packaging of your tea is airtight, so that your tea is insulated from the different odours.
In the green tea producing regions in China, every spring when new tea goes to market, there is the so-called "One Day, One Price." It basically means that tea prices come down very quickly as every single day passes. There are two main reasons. One is that more and more new tea goes to market every day, thus driving the prices down. Two is because, as the weather becomes warmer, tea quality deteriorates as it is exposed to the higher temperature in storage. It just goes to show the importance of storage to tea quality. But as long as you properly store your tea, you can enjoy fresh tea every day of the year.