The Japanese Tea Caddie
The Chazutsu - Everything you need to know
Here we'll go over what a Chazutsu is, how to use it, and also how to choose one that's perfect for your use.
Have you ever found it tedious to store your tea leaves in a proper way so that the external factors such as oxygen, humidity, and sunlight won't effect the tea?
Well, the Chazutsu is precicely the tool that helps you take care of this. In this article, we'll cover the following topics.
What is a Chazutsu?
The Chazutsu is a Japanese caddie for storing tea leaves.
It’s an essential tool for Japanese tea lovers, as the tea quality will easily deteriorate when it's not stored in the correct way. The Chazutsu is a convenient and a smart way to help prolong the taste of your precious tea leaves.
They will typically have the following functions.
4 Functions of a Chazutsu
- Protection from Sunlight
- Protection from Humidity
- Protection from Oxygen
- Protection from other Smells
The sunlight, humidity, and oxygen promote are extremely harmful to the tea leaves, causing further oxidation of the Catechin and other nutrients to reduce the taste and the aroma.
The smell is also an issue as green tea leaves are good at absorbing smell. That's a fine characteristic as a deodorizer, but it's obviously not nice when that smell mixes into your tea.
The Chazutsu helps block these adverse factors away. You can read more about storing of the tea leaves here.
How do you use a Chazutsu?
3 key points when you use a Chazutsu
- Keep a small amount in the Chazutsu
- Store the Chazutsu in a Cupboard
- Do not wash!
Keep a small amount in the Chazutsu
Keep about 10 days-worth of tea leaves in a Chazutsu for daily use.
The Chazutsu is not perfect - so it's not ideal for long term storage. However, if it's for a week or a two-weeks span, it will do the job really well. It's also very convenient because it's super easy to take the leaves out too. That's why the Chazutsu is perfect for your daily use leaves.
The rest of the leaves can then be properly stored in a refrigerator or a dark cabinet where it's more suitable for long-term storage.
When doing so, make sure that the rest of the leaves are sealed airtight in a Ziplock or any other sealable plastic bag to keep the oxygen, humidity, and smell from effecting the leaves.
However, I don't recommend the leaves directly touching the plastic bag because the plastic bag also has a smell that transfers to the leaves. I recommend using a clip that can seal the original tea bag, and then put that into the plastic ziploc to get another layer of seal.
If you are storing this in the refrigerator, when you take it out, make sure you let it sit in room temperature for at least 12 hours before opening. This is to avoid the condensation from ruining the leaves.
Store the Chazutsu in a Cupboard
It is best to keep the Chazutsu at a place where it can avoid the heat as much as possible.
In the cupboard with the other dishes is ideal.
If it is in a cupboard with other foods, it may allow the leaves to absorb the smell. The refrigerator is also not advisable. Although it can avoid the heat, the refrigerator has humidity, and has the smell of other foods.
As Much as Possible - Do not wash the Chazutsu
The tea leaves are extremely vulnerable to humidity. If the Chazutsu has water or humidity left over from washing, it will ruin the leaves.
Only wash the Chazutsu when you really must do so. When you do so, make sure you let it dry for a whole day. If it does get dirty, you can use a dry cloth to wipe off. You can also use tea leaves to scrub off as well.
Choosing the right Chazutsu
3 key points when you choose a Chazutsu
- The Size should be "Just Right".
- The Lid should be Air-tight.
- A 2-layer Structured Chazutsu is great.
Point 1: The Size should be "Just Right".
Choose the Chazutsu that matches the amount of leaves you would want to store. If you don't consume too much tea, then you might want to go for a smaller Chazutsu. Conversely, if you drink a lot of tea, a Chazutsu that can hold more leaves is more convenient.
The guideline would be to choose a size that can contain enough tea leaves you would consume between 10 days to a month.
Remember that if the Chazutsu is too big, there will be more air within the Chazutsu to effect the leaves. You want to choose that perfect size for you.
Also when you open the Chazutsu, the leaves will be re-exposed to air again. The dreaded oxidation will take place. This is another reason, you don’t want the Chazutsu to be too big.
Point 2: The Lid should be Air-tight.
Make sure the lid of the Chazutsu shuts air-tight.
If there are any holes or looseness in the lid of the Chazutsu, it doesn't serve the point. Having an air-tight Chazutsu is key in keeping the humidity and oxygen from eroding the taste of the leaves.
Point 3: A 2-layer Structured Chazutsu is great.
Some Chazutsu have a 2-layer structure built inside.
A lid in the middle of the Chazutsu will reduce the amount of air inside the Chazutsu exposed to the tea. To have this function in the Chazutsu is definitely a recommendation.
In this article, I touched on the functional aspects of the Chazutsu so you can consider looking for one.
What I didn't touch in this article is the emotional side of carrying one. There is a sense of elegance and classiness and the satisfaction that comes with it when you use the proper tools for preparing Japanese Tea.
It's an important side of the tea that comes with the "mindfulness moment" package that comes with Japanese tea.