Tea storage is rather simple and follows a few elementary rules involving exposure to oxygen, light and heat. We’ll cover some easy suggestions around the household along with some consequences if tea is not stored properly. Although this may take a little bit of effort to set up, the results will be astounding as one can notice the difference in preservation of flavors and aromas, especially if kept out of the sun.
Keep Away From The Light
Tea leaves are like vampires. Maybe not vampires, but exposure to lighting can quickly degrade the quality of tea leaves. UV rays can especially destroy the fragrance and flavor within your tea. Don’t believe us? We recommend trying it out by leaving out a bag of tea leaves or in a transparent jar by a sunlit window for a day. After that, you can find stark comparisons when brewing that batch against one which was not exposed to sunlight. What we recommend is storing your teas in areas that are darker such as the back of your pantry or cabinets. Light can quickly degrade the quality within tea and is the main factor to watch out for as it is more powerful than the upcoming factors.
Keep It Sealed
Tea can also be vulnerable to oxygen. Processed tea leaves are oxidized and contain anywhere from 3-6% moisture. If you’ve ever brewed loose leaf tea, sometimes you will get shocking revelations from others, admiring how much the tea leaves expand from such a tiny amount of tea. It goes back to that huge reduction of moisture so that the leaves shrink down tremendously. Tea leaves absorb a lot and at a quick rate. This includes anything in the surrounding area! The surrounding air may oxidize your tea more and change its tastes from what was originally intended. We recommend to seal off your teas, after opening, in an air tight vessel. Otherwise, the taste of your tea may change as it is exposed to more oxygen.
Popular choices for storage are ceramic or tin jars with air tight caps that seal the tea in. Other more cost effective solutions consists of putting your tea temporarily in zip lock bags, using a sealing clip or even wrapping a rubber band around the aluminum bag your tea could have been packaged in. The idea is simple, keep as much air out as possible. Also, please note that less oxidized teas (white and greens) are more prone to change in flavor and aroma, if left out in the open, compared to more oxidized ones such as roasted oolongs or black teas.
Keep It Cool
Heat is another factor which may deteriorate the quality of your tea. Even after processing, tea leaves may continue the oxidation process and change depending on its exposure to light or oxygen. Higher temperatures also play a role in post oxidation as heat can speed up this process. Heat also has the possibility to increase the moisture within containers which in turn can damage the quality of your teas. If your tea happens to be placed right next to an oven or stovetop, then we highly recommend moving your storage area. What is the ideal temperature for tea then? Anything 75°F and below is the ideal storage temperature you want for your teas. Of course, there are exceptions to this for greener teas such as Longjing Green teas, which are sometimes better off refrigerated, and fermented teas such as Pu Erhs which can take a little bit more heat and moisture in their storage spaces.
Hopefully this will give you a better understanding with tea storage so that you can better preserve the lifespan of your tea after opening. It is best to keep it in a dark and cool area inside a vessel that is properly sealed off.