Three tips for storing tea
Storing your tea in the right way keeps it fresher and more delicious for longer. Here are three top tips for keeping tea in your home or workplace.
1. dark and airtight
Exposure to air and sunlight will bring about changes to the flavour of the tea. This is particularly important if you have a naturally scented tea such as Earl Grey or Jasmine Pearls where the volatile oils will escape and diminish the aroma and flavour. To avoid this, store your tea in a cool, dry, dark environment in an airtight container.
There are some beautiful airtight tins available but don’t need to invest in expensive storage for your tea. As long as it is airtight and doesn’t taint the flavour it’s OK. For instance a snaplock plastic food container or kilner jar works equally as well if you keep them in the dark. Tea can be stored in its original packaging but only if the material has a high barrier property and it can be resealed after opening. Canton’s white foil bags are suitable for that.
2. cool and dry
Tea is hygroscopic. That means it attracts and absorbs moisture. So if kept uncovered near other food it will absorb any strong, surrounding smells. Heat can also impair the flavour of the tea by evaporating the volatile oils in scented teas, and perpetuating the oxidation process. So the rule is to store your tea away from your cooker but not in the fridge.
3. consistency is key
Avoid storage areas that are subject to big changes in temperature, either through sunlight, central heating or in a hot professional kitchen. Tea should be in a cool ambient space - a dark cupboard, definitely not on top of a commercial espresso machine.
Always trust your senses. Even if you are new to tea you can still tell if it is good when you buy it. It should smell good. Never musty or stale or unpleasant. If properly stored, your tea will not go off. If it is sealed, dry, airtight, dark and cool it will be safe to drink for many years. However, green teas are usually consumed fresh- within the first year after picking. Oolong and black teas last longer. There are some oolongs such as dan congs that are deliberately aged and some aged white tea is also desirable. Of course traditional raw puerh is made to improve with age and like fine wine can command many hundreds of thousands of US dollars at auction.
Store your teas well and the will be as good as when you bought them. If you need to understand more about the basics of tea take a look at our other piece here.