Hello again all tea lovers!
Tell me something, when you first started drinking loose leaf tea did you find yourself questioning how to properly store it? I know I did, especially after spending a decent amount of time and money on obtaining good quality tea.
I didn’t want my tea to go bad before I could enjoy it – that would be disastrous!
So I did a little research and came up with a list of steps to maximize the life of my loose leaf tea. But it wouldn’t be very nice of me not to share it so you can maximize the life of your tea as well. 😉
Read on, fellow tea lovers, for tips on how to properly store your tea leaves.
Tips for Proper Tea Storage
So here’s the story: You’ve spent a lot of time (and sometimes money) finding the great tasting tea that matches your personality perfectly. You don’t want it to go stale, obtain weird flavors, grow mold, or any other nasty stuff before you can enjoy your money’s worth.
Nope, didn’t think so.
Here’s what you do once you’ve received your tea.
Step One: Purchase Tea from a Merchant You Trust
This is a must. Always purchase from a merchant you trust. ALWAYS.
That doesn’t mean you should always go to the big name merchants nor does it mean you shouldn’t try a new merchant. It means look at the signs for a good and trustworthy merchant.
This goes for both brick and mortar stores as well as online stores.
Here are some things you should look out for:
- The merchants should be knowledgeable about the origin and age of the tea.
- Their products should list any pertinent information on the packaging or in the online listing (i.e. the composition, expiration date, etc.).
- The merchant should be open and willing to answer any questions you should have about the tea, your orders, etc.
- The merchant should have a willingness to find the answer to any question you have even if they don’t know it right off-hand (rather than just brushing you off).
- The fast turnover of the product should be evident by the clean shelves or the back-order numbers (evidence they are selling good product people love).
Mostly, you should be feeling comfortable in your relationship with your tea merchant because if it works out right, it could be a very long one. 🙂
Step Two: Put the Tea Leaves in an Opaque, Non-Plastic Container
Here’s the deal: tea will absorb the flavors, smells, and moisture from around it.
You don’t want to store your tea in something that has a “funny” smell or flavor nor do you want to leave the container sitting open for the moisture to get into it. Doing so will cause your tea to go stale faster than normal.
The best thing to store your tea in is a tin or aluminum container because it won’t hold flavor of old teas, it keeps sunlight and moisture out, and seals tightly keeping environmental odors away.
A good number of merchants will sell “collector’s” tins that you get your tea in. Those are perfect, but can be expensive. If you are reusing an old tea tin make sure it is clean (to avoid cross-contaminating tea flavors) and completely dry before putting your new tea in it.
A glass or ceramic container is also another good option for tea storage. Just as long as they are opaque and keep light out.
If you didn’t purchase your tea in a tin more than likely it came in a lined and resealable pouch. This is also perfectly acceptable for tea storage. Just make sure you reseal your tea pouch after you’re done using it. 😉
Be creative. Your tea storage can be unique as you.
But whatever you do, don’t store your tea in a plastic container and never store it in an used (but washed) Ziploc bag. Plastic is notorious for holding chemical and/or old smells. You wouldn’t want to drink tea that tastes like that old egg salad sandwich would you?
If you must use a plastic container, then make sure you use either (a.) the resealable tea pouch it came in or (b.) a fresh, new Ziploc bag that hasn’t been exposed to anything else.
Bonus Tip: There are vacuum sealing containers – you know the ones that have a lid you pump to remove the excess air inside? I’ve personally used these and it helps keep the tea fresh for a long time. But I kept the tea in the foil lined pouch it came in and threw the whole thing in the vacuum sealing container.
Step Three: Store in a Dark, Cool and Dry Place
Light, heat and moisture are tea’s worst enemies. Being exposed to all three (or any combination there of) will activate enzymes in the tea causing it to decompose faster.
While that’s not completely horrible for certain teas like Pu-erh, it’s detrimental for that delicious green tea you just bought.
Here’s some things to consider:
- Don’t place your tea over the stove because every time you boil that pasta or fry that hamburger it will send the moisture (and flavors) right up into the tea.
- Don’t place the tea on your kitchen ledge either – it may look awesome and design friendly with that antique tea tin, but the sun is really not your tea’s friend.
- Keep the tea out of the fridge and freezer.
The best place for your tea is in a pantry where the temperature is kept constant and climate controlled and where there is an automatic light. If not there, then in the kitchen cabinet (that’s not above the stove).
Step Four: Keep Tea Flavors Separate
Tea absorbs other flavor and smells – but I think I mentioned that?
If you have a multi-binned storage container you don’t want to store your more fragrant, blended teas with your plain black teas. Otherwise your plain black teas will start to take on the flavor of the blended teas – just as an example.
Not exactly what your tongue may have been expecting. Right?
Bonus Tip: If you’re using one of those vacuum sealing containers I mentioned earlier, make sure you use a separate container for different blended teas so you don’t cross-contaminate your flavors. Unless of course that was your goal. 😉
Proper Tea Storage = Everlasting Tea Life
Ok, so maybe not “everlasting tea life” but definitely extended freshness and quality.
Now that you know the proper ways of storing your loose leaf tea, why not take the time to re-evaluate how you’re currently doing so. Then make the necessary adjustments.
Trust me, it may seem like a little extra work and take up a little extra storage room, but the fresh tasting tea will definitely make up for it in the months to come.