Storing Loose Tea
Storing tea is- on a whole- very simple. Keeping your tea in an airtight container and storing said container in a dark, cool, dry place free of strong odours - you will likely consume it long before you begin to notice any degradation in the aroma or taste.
But this guide is more of those of you who either have way more tea than you’ll be able to drink within the next few months, or those who simply want to keep a few blends on hand for the occasional cup.
Our main goal in tea storage is to prevent deterioration through oxidation. During tea production, the tea leaves are dried to prevent further oxidation at various different states which lead to the different types of tea such as green, yellow and white. Oxidation changes the taste and overall makeup of the tea leaves and improper storage allows for further deterioration- which is bad.
So following the pointers below will ensure your next cup is always fresh and flavourful.
Keep Free From Oxygen
Store your tea in an airtight container. Never leave your tea open or in none-sealable containers. While vacuum sealing is recommended, it's not practical unless you plan for long-term storage.
Keep Away From Heat
Heat will speed up the oxidation of your tea leaves. Some delicate teas such as green or yellow are best if stored in the freezer or refrigerator, this dramatically slows the oxidation reactions.
The best practice is to store your tea in smaller packets which you’ll use within a week or so, keeping the rest of your supply in the freezer and thus fresher.
Warning: Before putting any tea in the freezer, make sure to remove as much air as possible from the container. Remaining air will condense and cause moisture to develop. Also, allow removed packages from your freezer to reach room temperature before opening.
Keep Away From Light
Exposure to light will damage your tea, giving it a metallic flavour. So it's best to keep it in a dark container in a dark place to avoid light damage.
Keep Away from Strong Odours
Tea leaves will absorb smells from their surroundings. Which is beneficial during the production of various scented teas such as jasmine where they store the tea leaves with the jasmine blossoms. However, this quality can also be very detrimental to your tea should you have something smelly nearby. So it's best to be aware of the scents within the room you’re storing your tea. Beware of musty places like basements and the material of the container your tea is in as it can also hold odours depending on what it's made from.
Keep Away from Moisture
This one is a bit of a no-brainer. Tea is hygroscopic and will absorb moisture right from the air. Make sure your storage container is airtight. Don’t want your tea to steep before you’re ready to steep it!
Store in Bulk
Since we want to keep air out of our storage containers, it would go in hand with keeping the container as full as possible. When filling your container, make sure it's large enough for all the tea leaves. Fill it to the top, close, give it a shake to allow the tea to settle and fill again.
When your tea begins to run low, consider switching it to a smaller airtight vessel.
Make sure you keep your tea leaves in a large airtight container in a dark, dry and scent-free place and you’ll be able to enjoy fresh tea for months to come.