A Tea Canister For Chinese Tea

When referring to a tea canister, the meaning of canister can also extend to include earthenware and ceramic storage containers – both small as well as larger urn sized containers, although it seems that generally when people refer to a tea canister, they are usually thinking of smaller containers.

In ancient times canisters were primarily made from wood and ceramic pottery and used in kitchens and pantries for storing food products. Usually food supplies would come in large sacks or bags and stored in communal storage rooms or warehouses. Canisters were use to keep smaller quantities of food supplies in in order to make for easy access for the kitchen. Antique kitchen canisters were often set of 5 or 6 pieces. For example kitchen canisters sets would often be used for staples such as flour, sugar, coffee, tea, spices, salt, pasta etc. Some of the first Asian or oriental tea canisters were small mouth containers that were more like vases in appearance and usually had a fitted cork for sealing.

Today many foods staples are sold in resalable bags or inexpensive disposable canisters or containers and refrigeration is used where needed to improve storage and “shelf life” of food products, so there is not so much emphasis on the importance of good storage canisters in the average household today. Canister sets are still quite popular however and there are many “designer” canister sets available, which are both practical and also add to the beauty and décor of the kitchen.

Chinese Tea Canisters

For tea, the importance of proper storage is still an issues and good tea can lose its freshness and aroma and unique tasting qualities is it is not stored properly in an appropriate canister. For loose leaf Chinese tea such as oolong or green and white teas, they are harvested several times a year and once processed and ready for consumption, most varieties are packed and sealed in air tight. Vacuum packed bags, in order to retain the freshness. Once the consumer buys the tea and opens the sealed bag, the tea must then be stored in an air tight container in order to continue to preserves it freshness for as long as possible. Some special Chinese teas. Such a Oriental Beauty, Boazhong Oolong and even some of the famous green teas such as Dragon Well are usually packed as loose tea and not vacuum packed in order to preserve the leaf and prevent damage and crushing the tender leaves and buds that sometimes occurs when vacuum packing the tea. Storage of these more delicate teas also requires finding a good storage canister.

Tea canisters made from tin are fine and are inexpensive and quite common. The quality varies a little – mainly in that the better quality tea tins have higher grade metal coating on the inside and outside. A good tea tin also usually has an extra sealing lid on the inside that aids in keeping it airtight. Tin tea cans come in a variety of shapes and sizes.

Hard cardboard canisters are also widely used and relatively inexpensive.

The best material however for storing Chinese teas is earthenware or ceramic pottery. Good quality ceramic canister can more effectively retain the quality and freshens of the tea and the natural clay can in some cases actually enhance the tea quality. High grade ceramic and natural earthenware pottery can tend to blend in with the tea and many Chinese tea connoisseurs often spend time enjoying the wonderful aromas that these ceramic canisters give forth when high quality teas are stored in them.

Tea storage is a very important part of the Chinese tea culture – primarily in enabling good fresh tea to retain its quality and freshness for as long as possible and also for aged tea or tea being stored to further mature or ferment – such as pu-erh tea or aged oolong and green – to do so in such a way that the storage and/or fermentation process happens correctly.

In addition to this the appearance and setting of the tea canisters and storage urns and jars in the tea masters or tea connoisseurs tea room, home or tea shop plays a big part in the overall cultural experience that is portrayed. It is important that the tea canister blends in and looks and feels right and fits in with the overall appearance.

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