How to properly store tea

July 20, 2019
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It seems as though one can never put enough emphasis on optimal tea leaf storage at home as freshness is probably the most important aspect, along with the original quality of the leaves, of a tea brimming with aromatic possibilities . . .  Actually, aside from the Pu Er family (which need relatively warmer and more humid conditions—more on that in an upcoming article), all teas need the same storage conditions in order to protect them from elements that could damage their aroma. The tea might not necessarily become rancid, but it could simply lose its bouquet (become aired out, as happens with spices and ground coffee) or even “lose its spirit”, as I like to put it.

For a longer shelf life, store in a cool, dark, and dry place, away from ambient odours (tea has the ability to absorb these). Simply put, it is best to limit the amount of air that the leaves come in contact with in order to keep them from being altered by humidity.

Even though the Camellia Sinensis zip bags are airtight and very effective for home tea storage, many prefer storing their teas in proper containers, or caddies. Several types of tea caddies exist made from various materials and in different sizes. Wood, bamboo, and unglazed clay are specifically suited for Pu Er aging, but because of their breathability are not ideal for other types of tea. For these, it is best to use airtight containers made of metal, plastic, or glazed ceramic. I’d like to remind you that glass, because of its transparency, does not provide the proper conditions for storing tea. There are types of caddies equipped with a valve to hermetically seal the tea, similar to the way we take care of our teas here at the shop. We vacuum pack them as soon as we receive them so they stay at their peak of freshness during the following months.

Airtight resealable bags are great for storing and preserving tea. Please note that brown paper tin tie (coffee-style) bags are not airtight and will not sufficiently protect the fragile aromas of your tea.

It is also important to note that, even in the best storage conditions, your tea could eventually lose its flavour and aroma. Tea should be consumed soon after purchase so it is preferable to buy it more often but in small quantities, depending on how much you like to drink. Generally speaking, black, wulong, and white teas will stay fresh for 12 to 18 months after they’ve been picked. Green tea, which is more fragile, will stay fresh for up to 12 months.

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