Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Put that Tea Away - Photos Andrew Hess and Josh Chamberlain

Photo - Andrew Hess

We sealed several jars full of tea at our inaugural Tea Sealing Event in February, including two mammoth jars for the tea shop that we're planning to open in 19 years, 11 months, 337 days, and counting.  Those in attendance included two pottery teachers, this blog’s editor, several tea aficionados, one father-son pair, local activity supporters, art-full collectors, two well-mannered children, a nutty tea proprietor, a supportive tea crew, several kernels of oolong, and the like.

Though it wasn't required, each of the guests sealed their own jar of tea. There were many jars to choose from, including some from local potter, Jaime Allen. J-TEA provided two teas for the jars' contents.

Time goes by and tea changes. These are two things that we cannot stop, no matter how hard people in the tea industry might try. Several packaging innovations have worked to slow down the changes that occur as a result of time, including vacuum seal machines, multi-layer bags with a strong oxygen barrier, and refrigeration, which lowers the temperature and humidity in which the tea is stored. When these elements are combined, shelf life and stability of the greener teas is prolonged. The tea maintains its fresh flavor longer. Change is not stopped, just slowed.

Greener oolong teas offer perhaps the most room for dramatic changes over time. We chose two green teas for this occasion: a twisted leaf oolong and a tightly rolled oolong. Over time, these teas will likely develop a rich and earthy character, much like an aged puer, or sometimes a cooked puer. Though we cannot really know for sure until the time arrives and the jars are opened.

The twisted leaf oolong is light and fluffy and the tightly rolled oolong is denser and heavier. This will provide us with some great material for comparison. We filled the first jar with 11 and some odd pounds of twisted leaf oolong. The second jar contains a composite of tightly rolled teas. We started with a few pounds of mismatched high mountain oolong scraps, including some high quality, high mountain tea. We finished it off with our house green oolong, a Four Seasons from Ming Jian in Nantou, Taiwan. Ming Jian is famous for its Four Seasons Green Oolong. It’s light and floral with a bit of depth and sweet undertones. The second jar was filled with thirty plus pounds of tea.

Guru Hari Khalsa from Yogi Tea signs the seal - Andrew Hess

Photo - Andrew Hess

The tea seal - Andrew Hess

John Arndt with his sealed jar

Full tea capsule - Andrew Hess

Capsule number two filled - Andrew

Guru Hari and Narsingh

Kelly, with her stylish tea capsule 

Doug Blandy of China Vine and University of Oregon with his filled capsule

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