When you store tea it is important to remember, whether loose or bagged, that tea is highly susceptible to five main factors:
Contact with oxygen will cause tea to turn brown and lose flavor over time. Additionally, moisture of any kind will ruin tea (steer clear of storage spots near the sink, dishwasher, or microwave).
To aptly safeguard from both conditions, an opaque, airtight container is the best method to store tea.
Glass containers may be attractive but are discouraged because exposure to light can degrade your tea leaves over time. Metal or ceramic containers are ideal.
Likewise, tea should not be stored near a window or a stove, as heat hastens the oxidation process. A cool, dark, and dry place is the best option when storing tea.
If using plastic containers, make sure you use the same container for the same kind of tea, continuously. This prevents the cross-contamination of odors. Note: Teas can also absorb flavors and odors from other foods nearby. Be sure to store tea away from spices and coffee.
Some additional tips to help you keep tea fresher, longer:
• Don’t purchase large amounts of tea at one time. Buy only what you can reasonably drink over the course of a few weeks, and then go back for more!
• White and green teas are less oxidized than black and oolong teas. That means they’ll have a shorter shelf life (approximately one year).
• Resealable plastic bags are a valid storage method. Make sure they are multi-ply, however, and get all air out before sealing.
• Some tea drinkers opt for wooden storage containers. Keep in mind, though, tea’s odor-absorbing properties could soak up any strong wood scents.
• Label your tea canisters with the name of the tea and the date purchased to rule out any confusion.
• Avoid storing tea in the freezer or refrigerator. Any air remaining in the tea could turn into moisture, ruining your tea.
• Pu-erh teas are intended to age and require air and humidity for proper fermentation.
Most teas will eventually lose their flavor, no matter how well they’re stored. But by following these simple steps, you will be able to optimize the freshness and flavor of your favorite teas and impress your guests with each freshly brewed cup.