Keeping tea for a special moment?

Do you know these thoughts: “Should I have those chocolates? They were so expensive so let’s wait for a special occasion! Will it be a waste if I wear this dress on a normal work day or should I wait for a special event to come up? Should I open this bag of tea now? I might want to keep it for later, for a special time. If I finish the tea now I cannot enjoy it later at the right moment.“

In our everyday life we are often asking ourselves these kind of questions. Should I act now or keep certain things for a later time, for a seemingly more precious moment? What is that ‘something special‘ we are waiting for?

I myself often have these kinds of issues when I purchase new tea. I don’t want to open the bag too early but want to keep it for later. It seems like I don’t want to waste it by drinking it on a daily basis or without having a specific reason.

Have you ever considered that your tea is changing its colour, smell and appearance while it is sitting there waiting to be drunk? Even if your tea is enjoyable over a longer time, the expiry date is indicating that the difference between fresh tea and long stored tea leaves is considerable.

Be aware that temperature, moisture, oxygen and sunlight are playing an important role in making your tea less enjoyable. When coming into contact with these elements the leaves begin to react. Even if tea is stored in optimal conditions it will change its characteristics over time. Depending on the individual tea, the moisture level of the tea can increase from 3% to 7%, and when moisture reaches a level of 6%, oxidization begins [1]

In contrast: Matcha from 2014 and 2016

In contrast: Matcha from 2014 and 2016

When wanting to enjoy a nice cuppa after a long time, you will immediately notice your tea has changed its smell when opening the packet. Tea that is stored for too long loses its fresh green fragrance which usually awaits you on opening the bag. Further you will see that the tea is visibly affected, meaning the fresh green colour has faded. Instead it has adopted a brown and dull appearance. If the leaves come in contact with sunlight for a long period of time they might go a yellowish brown. From smelling and looking at the leaves you can now only guess its taste. I think you will be right to assume that the fresh taste has faded and instead has a stale tang to it.

Also the tea’s components go through changes that are not noticeable by visual examination, meaning the decrease of elements beneficial for our health such as vitamin C or catechins.

Matcha1  Matcha2

Back to the topic of keeping it for something ‘special’. What is wrong with the present moment and why do we sometimes find it awkward to accept that the present is the something special we are looking for. We should seize the day by following our impulses. It doesn’t make any sense to think that the current moment is not worthy of the things we enjoy and that we should be keeping them for later. Without realising it, the tea gets forgotten, unopened in a cupboard, or the rest of opened tea is left sitting in its tin for a long time and gets past its best. What a shame! Let’s enjoy the precious teas and don’t let regrets, of not drinking them earlier, arise.

If you feel like doing something spontaneous, go for it. It is the right moment. If you feel like drinking your favourite tea without any reason or occasion where you can serve it to your friends or family, then do it. It is the right time for you and the tea.


Written by Jennifer Swann

Posted in Japanese Tea and tagged .

One Comment

  1. Wow. I never new. I drink tea almost everyday, but I like to rotate what I am drinking. So I might open a sencha the day its bought, then not drink it again until a week or two later. Its interesting to know the changes the leaves go through, whilst your not looking.

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