Over these past four years, I have created a ritual of sorts each spring – the ritual of cleaning out of my tea collection. I don’t think I know an avid tea drinker who does not end up with a great number of small samples of tea, which can be both a blessing and a curse. The wide variety of samples we tend to acquire are great when we feel the desire to step out of our daily comfort zone and try something different. But the curse comes from the fact that they can make just about any collection look cluttered.
Add to that the fact that I am not as steadfast as I should be concerning my rules regarding opening new teas, and by the time spring rolls around – after living somewhere for many months – I have acquired quite a few open, but unfinished, bags of tea. This brings up the freshness issue; that is, how long have I actually had a sample and how well has it been preserved?
Thankfully, the freshness issue does not affect most of the teas I consume, namely, high-roasted oolongs and Puerh. But what that means is that the Chinese green and white teas that I order are seldom consumed, though I usually try and keep one or two on hand for when I would like something different. The best I can do is to store teas appropriately and remember to drink them semi-regularly.
While I am completely aware of my drinking habits, I still consider it a game each spring when I make the move back home. I try and consume the samples, and as it is roughly around the time that the spring green teas get harvested, I try and finish those off also. This ritual is less pressing when you are not moving each spring, but it is a good idea to preserve the ritual to keep the teas on hand as fresh as possible.
Photo “312-365: Tea Tins” is copyright under Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic License to the photographer Rina Pitucci and is being posted unaltered (source)