Storing tea in chinese-style porcelain canisters
Currently my teas are hidden away in the pantry, many still in their original packets. I’m in the middle of designing a tea shelf for the kitchen, so as to have my teas and tea ware a little closer to hand (and to give my wife some pantry space back!).
I’m toying with the idea of chinese-style porcelain canisters for some of my oolong and black teas, but I’m not sure how airtight they are. I notice that some porcelain canisters appear to have lids with a kind of foil-covered stopper like this: http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/300338722592?ssPageName=STRK:MESINDXX:IT&trksid=p3984.m1436.l2649 (or this: http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/230637628424?ssPageName=STRK:MESINDXX:IT&trksid=p3984.m1436.l2649).
Is anyone familiar with this kind of seal? How does it rate in terms of airtight-ness?
I’ve been looking for jars like this to store my pu’er. They are not air tight, which is a plus for pu’er storage (in order to continue aging, a but of airflow is necessary). They would block out a lot of smell, and protect the tea from getting crushed, etc. Because they are made of unlined porcelain, they also don’t transfer smells like plastic might., and they block out light.
However, if you are storing non-pu’er, for the price of these jars you might be happier with something that is more air-tight. Unfortunately, I haven’t found any good ones on the mass market. If I do, I will post them here!
The ones with foil plug should be more or less air-tight. However, the quality (and tightness) of these things vary, and the plugs often tear or wear out.
The specific one you picture is fairly cheap quality. If you get one produced by Fengqingtang, Lin’s, Sanshe, Chunping or other makers of good-quality porcelain teaware, the seal will be tighter and the quality should be a bit better.
ps – With porcelain or stoneware tea jars, you can use wax or some fabric to make a more airtight seal. Teas that aren’t super fresh (more oxidized / roasted oolongs, aged pu’er) or which don’t need long term storage may actually benefit from a container that’s not totally airtight, especially if you live in a dry climate.
Stéphane at Teamasters (teamasters.blogspot.com) sells good quality plain white porcelain jars with the foil plug direct from Taiwan (I think they are Sanshe brand) for a not un-reasonable price. Hou De sells the small size ones from Fengqingtang, though they’re on vacation now. Red Blossom carries these Xudejia ones:
http://www.redblossomtea.com/teaware/storage/dark-cha-guan.html (a bit more expensive, though).
Pewter is also nice looking and keeps a tight seal, though if you’re concerned about lead, you may want to be careful about using some older pewter.
I saw some spice jars today at anthropologie that have a rubber stopper around the lid to keep it sealed better, and they may work very well for your project!
you can even colour them and write on your own labels for the teanames! :)
Adagio has decently priced tins that are airtight and UV protected. They’re not the prettiest ones out there, but they work well.
I’m not sure if the colored ones have the Adagio logos on them as well; I only own the originals.