The importance of good storage for loose leaf tea can be overlooked.
In order to keep your tea fresher and tastier for longer, you will need to store it correctly. In this article, we’ll teach you useful storage methods, what to avoid when choosing a tea container, and how to make sure that your favourite tea will still taste delicious six months down the line.
Figuring out the best way to store tea can be tricky, due to the fact that the leaves are made up of aromas, oils, and flavour molecules, all of which can degrade over time when exposed to air.
This can result in sad brews that lack the original depth they had when you first bought them. As such, one of the first things that you should be doing when storing tea is keeping it in an air-tight container, ensuring that the leaves stay fresh and tasty.
If you keep it in the original bag make sure that tea isn’t re-sealed with excess air in the bag and is always closed after use.
Sunlight and UV rays result in chemical damage to the leaves, degrading the quality of tea very quickly. Keeping the tea in a dark cupboard can improve the lifespan of the tea greatly, and avoid the metallic taste that can form from exposure to the sun.
Avoid storing tea in clear plastic or glass, especially when the containers are left in display cupboards or on the kitchen side.
Heat is another thing that will RUIN tea if you’re not careful. High temperatures can speed up the oxidation process, resulting in the original taste of the tea being lost.
To avoid heat damage to the tea, make sure that the leaves are not left in a warm corner of the kitchen, by a window, or by a kettle. Ovens, dishwashers, and refrigerators are no-gos, too.
Damp, humid rooms are the death of tea, as the leaves absorb water in the air very quickly. This can result in a weakened flavour and even mold – which is the last thing you want in your tea leaves.
Make sure that your tea leaves are kept away from strong odours such as spices, herbs, and coffee, and away from toxic cleaning chemicals and laundry detergents.
Along with absorbing water, tea also absorbs odour very quickly – which is great for infusing tea with delicious jasmine or pandan leaves, but is awful for preserving the original flavour. Tea should not be stored in porous packaging such as paper, or left open and exposed on the kitchen counter.
Always ensure your storage container is food safe.
Glass can be a great container for your tea – so long as it is UV protected. Not only will this keep the delicious flavours in. Those purple ultraviolet jars are a beautiful way to spice up the kitchen counter. Storing leaves in plastic containers can result in leached chemicals and even flavour residue in the tea – which can easily ruin a good brew.
Tin is another great material for storing tea, but be sure to avoid reactive metals like aluminium, cast iron, and copper. Wooden containers can also be a good option, but be aware that storing tea in boxes made from oak or pine as these too can influence the taste of the tea.
There is no point in taking all this care to improve the lifespan and quality of your tea if you’re not going to then seal it properly. Make sure that whichever container you use has a double lid – this is common with tin canisters.
Along with that, make sure that the seals are odour-free, and if you are storing the tea in food-safe multi-ply bags within a bigger container, ensure that they have resealable ‘zippers’ that will keep the air out.
Only open teas that you are sure you will consume within the next few months.
Unless they’re an aged Pu’erh, don’t hold onto the tea for decades – instead, try to drink them when they’re at their freshest. All our Blue Tea Bags have a best before date.
Most teas come with a ‘best before’ date on the packaging – although this is just an estimate of how long they will retain freshness. It is still safe to consume tea after that date, but it will probably have lost a little oomph in the process.
As a general rule of thumb, black tea lasts for up to two years when stored in wood containers or bags, and three years when stored in tin or glass.
Green tea typically has a shorter shelf life of around six to eight months, and matcha is especially sensitive, with an upper shelf life of four months.
Other teas, such as aged Pu’erh, can be stored for up to sixty years – so long as they’re stored correctly.
The main benefit of properly stored loose leaf tea is that the leaves taste fresher for longer, maintaining the beautiful aroma. With correct storage, you will protect the antioxidants and vitamins contained in the leaves, and ensure the taste is as good as when it arrived.
So what’s stopping you? Go and rejuvenate your tea cupboard now.
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