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At first glance, one pile of leaves closely resembles another, especially when dry. But float those same leaves, after steeping, in a shallow white porcelain tray of water and you can quickly tell whether the money you just paid for that special tea was well spent.
Tea is a dry food. As such it is susceptible to insect contamination, moisture absorption, and mold. Tea leaves usually won’t spoil like high-moisture food (bread for example) but the flavor diminishes considerably over time.
Particularly fine items used in tea rituals were designated as meibutsu, or revered objects, by the tea men. Chigusa is a 16th Century meibutsu tea jar and one of the most famous of several hundred antique ceramic storages jars still in existence.
Packaging is more than how tea is stored for protection, transport, display, and storage. It is a dynamic element in the tea life cycle. It's part of an innovation complex.