Freshness and Green Tea
Given their delicate floral fragrances, subtle notes of fresh-cut grass, and marine accents, green teas are best consumed fresh. The distinctive aromatic notes of spring teas tend to dissipate within months after the harvest.
To delay the natural aging of their green teas, the Japanese have shown great ingenuity. Depending on the market demand and quantities of tea produced in a specific year, they vacuum-pack a certain amount of aracha to be stored in enormous freezers. This keeps the aracha fresh until it is defrosted for processing.
Though Japan is perhaps the only country to freeze tea leaves on a large scale, many other tea-producing countries now use vacuum packaging. InChina, the goal is not only to preserve the freshness of the teas, but also to sell tea in convenient units. Small 5g or 10g packets have become very popular with tea-drinkers, especially for Wulong teas. Some producers hesitate, however, as vacuum packaging, unless done very carefully, can break the more delicate leaves.
RULES FOR PRESERVING GREEN TEA AT HOME
- The container must be airtight. Contact with the air encourages the aging of the leaves, causing the aromatic components to dissipate and the leaves’ humidity, essential for a good infusion, to evaporate.
- To prevent the colour of the leaves from fading and the taste from deteriorating, the tea must be kept away from light and heat. Glass containers should be avoided unless they are stored in a dark place.
- Since tea tends to absorb odors, the containers must be kept far from fragrant foods, coffee, and spices.
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