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Snow Bud Tea
Green Snow Bud doesn’t have the white down that marks white tea on its leaves, but it’s a collection of neatly furled first leaves that open up during steeping to show the buds folded inside of them. The Green Snow Bud frankly impresses me more than the Snow Bud variety, although it’s closer to the green end of the flavor spectrum than Snow Bud is.

The preference for calling Snow Bud a white tea may be because it’s from Fujian province, a coastal region near Taiwan that was the first to make white tea, although it now makes all varieties in substantial amounts. In fact, it has a strong history of tea invention, which is probably why they are making brand new varieties even today, when an aura of ancientness is one of tea producer’s favorite selling points.
won’t pretend that I don’t swoon a bit at the teas that have been picked from ancient tea bushes grown up into trees on long-abandoned tea farms deep in Yunnan, but the Snow Buds make an excellent argument for innovation in tea.

They are interesting enough to make anyone stop and think about
them while drinking a cup, because everyone has to make their own judgment on the green/white debate, and good enough that you’ll come back for another cup once you’ve solved the mystery to your own satisfaction. Personally I’d say the Snow Bud is pretty much a white, but people who like whites more than I do have said it’s surprisingly green-like. The Green Snow Bud is more solidly a green, but I’m always more interested in a second cup of it than of its whiter cousin. But is that because it’s objectively better or because I’m such a green tea fan? You see the difficulty here. Clear out an empty ten minutes the first time you try either of these teas, so you can debate it properly, then come leave me a comment with your opinion.
Light isn’t as damaging as air, but it will degrade your tea. Think of the way rugs fade where the sun always hits them, or posters on the wall. By the way, you may want to put UV blocking glass in your frames if you’re really attached to those posters.
It’s very tempting to put your pretty tea in big glass jars and perch them on the counter, isn’t it? Your kitchen would look kind of rustic and organic, with a subtle touch of “why yes, I’m sophisticated enough to own this attractively rolled oolong.” Don’t give in.

If you really love that pretty oolong, keep it in an opaque container. You can casually pull it out of the pantry and offer a cup to the friends you want to impress, and it will taste as pretty as it looks.
Part of the reason you want to keep your tea out of the light is that it will heat up when the sun is on it, and warmth makes chemical reactions happen faster. And we’re all about retarding chemical reactions in this post! By the same token, you want to make sure the place you keep it is cool as well as dark.
Not in the drawer next to the oven or the cupboard over the toaster, is what I’m saying. You do not need to refrigerate tea, except for one special case: japanese teas.

Japan is all about freshness, when it comes to food. This is fairly obvious when you think about, say, sushi, but rather more surprising when you learn that some people recommend sake be drunk within a month of production. This extends to tea. Japanese teas do tend to have more moisture in the dry leaf than other kinds, so it makes a certain amount of sense.

That said, here’s how to protect your poor, delicate Japanese greens:

First, leave some of it at room temperature in the pantry, about what you’ll drink in a month, because you don’t want to take your tea out of the fridge every time you make a cup. If you open up the package while the leaf is still cold, any moisture in the air will condense on the leaf, like it does on the outside of a glass of iced water.

Obviously not good for your tea! Second, wrap your tea up tight before you put it in the fridge. The pantry may be full of spices that threaten the integrity of your tea, but the perishables in the fridge are actually more dangerous, even at the low temperature. The humidity in there is very high, and there are a lot of smells for your tea to absorb. When your pantry supply runs out, take the package out of the refrigerator, let it warm to room temperature, take out another month’s supply, then
But Really, Relax

That’s a hell of a wall of text I just wrote. Don’t freak out, though. The take home message is just put your tea in airtight canisters and don’t buy too much at once. The really central problem is time. All of the methods above are ways to slow down the chemical reactions that make your tea stale.

The most effective way of making sure you drink it all in a reasonable amount of time. The faster you go through it, the less you have to worry about staleness. Buy in small amounts, often, rather than large ones occasionally. And buy from stores that specialize in tea, and thus have a quick turnover and are always getting new, fresh tea in.

Tea should be drunk within a year. Except for those flighty Japanese ones, they’re going stale as we speak! Have you finished your teabag tea yet? You should be drinking your Japanese tea now, the clock is ticking! If you don’t have any, buy some, then drink it real quick! I kid, I kid. I think I’m going to go drink some of my Japanese tea now, though.

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