You’ve just bought some new tea, or maybe you’ve found some in the back of your cupboard. In either case you might be wondering how best to store loose leaf tea and what constitutes best practice. Perhaps your tea came in a nice resealable bag, or you decanted it into a glass or tin container? Read on to discover the benefits and pitfalls of each of these alongside five factors that influence tea storage; and five guidelines to keep your tea pristine.
Airtight. Keep tea as close to being in a vacuum as possible. EXPELL all air from packets before sealing. Oxygen causes natural oxidation which degrades tea. Exposure to external undesired aromas is also undesirable (tea absorbs strong aromas).
Bulk. Keeping tea stored in bulk tends to stay fresher for longer. You want as much tea and as little air in any given tea tin or container so that oxidation is minimised and the aroma of the tea dominates the aroma of the container.
Cool. Tea should be kept cool, ideally stored from 5-7°C (Green tea & green oolongs) up to 10°C (most others), with minimum day/night temperature variation. Refridgeration of green teas can work well – so long as no strong smells are present and you bring the tea up to room temperature BEFORE opening, to avoid condensation (as below). Always expell all air before sealing and putting in the fridge.
Dark. Store as dark as possible. Sunlight degrades tea, so keep it out of direct sunlight, eg. in a dark cupboard without mold or other strong smells in it.
Dry. Moisture or condensation will NOT help tea to stay fresh! Over time tea slowly absorbs moisture from the air. This can lead to tea tasting stale and flat. So keep tea air-tight and away from sources of moisture; as dry as possible until you steep it.
Bear in mind that more lightly oxidised types of tea (green/white/light oolongs/Darjeeling 1st Flush) are more sensitive to these factors than darker more fully oxidised teas (dark oolongs and most black teas).
Different types of tea storage tins and containers
In the images above there are three types of tea storage containers. Glass whilst pretty is generally not a good material because it lets light through which degrades tea. Tins for tea storage are made from a great barrier material however, as a rigid container, air present inside the tin can make oxidation an issue. In order to keep the tea in Bulk and minimise oxidation top up the tea level, or use it up fairly quick eg. < 2 months. As such tins are recommended more for darker oolongs and black teas (not green or lighter teas) and only if air-tight. Flexible resealable packaging, such as our aluminium metalised Tip Top Tea bags are best for being able to expell the air inside and minimise oxidation, whilst also providing a good moisture, light and aroma barrier.
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