Think it's a good idea to keep your fine loose leaf tea sitting on top of your stove or near a window exposed to sunlight? Not if you want to make it last long enough to enjoy through next winter. If tea is properly stored, it can potentially last up to a year for green, oolong and black teas. White tea lasts about six months before it isn't as good in quality as when fresher. Stale tea will taste flat, as if you are sipping liquid cardboard. Here are the do's and don'ts of properly storing loose leaf tea:
- Keep fresh tea away from air, heat, light, and moisture. Each of these will cause the tea to deteriorate or to go stale.
Place the loose leaf tea in a non-plastic container. Preferably use a container that is made from tin or aluminum. Plastic can transfer an odor and spoil the taste of the tea. It should be airtight; if not, place the tea in a sealable bag first, although be careful of the odor of the bag if it's plastic. After usage, tightly close or seal the container every single time. This ensures that the tea maintains its freshness, flavor and aroma.
Store the tea in a dark, cool, and dry location. Light and moisture are tea's biggest enemies as they will activate enzymes that contribute to its decomposition. The perfect place to store tea is in a pantry that has an automatic light switch and its temperature constant, unaffected by climate change. A kitchen cabinet is the next best location. Keep flavored tea apart from plain varietal or origin (pure) teas. Otherwise, the flavored tea will overpower all the other teas in the cubby. Conduct a sniff test before storing. Blended teas may have a flavor that is overwhelming. Keep smoky teas well separated; they are the most potent.
Buy smaller quantities of tea and drink them faster to retain freshness.
Tightly seal bag or close tin after each use.
- Place tea over the stove. The heat and moisture will harm it.
- Place tea in the refrigerator or freezer. This will burn the taste and kill the aroma.
- Store tea in a garage. It will be exposed to light and moisture which are the primary causes of deteriorating tea.
- Purchase tea that comes in a see-through glass container. You may not know how long that tea has been sitting on the shelf.