Do you love drinking tea? If so, you know that it’s important to store it properly in order to keep it fresh. There are a few different ways to do this, and today, we will discuss the best way to store tea for maximum freshness, so you can ensure that your quality tea retains its freshness and flavour.
Does tea expire?
If you’re anything like me, when you see interesting tea, you buy that tea. That means that you may have a cabinet full of tea, and may in fact, be wondering if that limited edition Christmas tea you bought five years ago that was shoved into the back of your cabinet is any good (not that I am speaking from experience, though that example DOES seem oddly specific).
Of note: it is key to understand the difference between aging and spoiling. If properly cared for, tea does not spoil. However, it can age, which impacts the flavor and brewed quality.
Tea is commonly best consumed within a few months of purchasing, but with proper storage methods, tea can last even longer. For the best flavor, however, we recommend purchasing smaller quantities of tea in order to enjoy them at peak flavor, so you don’t have to learn about old tea the hard way.
Spoiled or expired tea would be any tea that is not properly stored. For example, if moisture gets into your tea, it can mold – that would definitely be spoiled tea. If it gets moldy, there is no saving it – toss it!
Careful storage can prevent your tea from oxidizing, so be on the lookout for this term throughout this post. Oxidation is the exposure of tea to oxygen, which results in a deterioration of the tea leaf, and the quality of the brewed tea made from the tea leaves.
Without further ado, here are our top tips to keep your tea leaves fresh!
Store tea in an air-tight container
Tea is hygroscopic and will absorb any moisture from the air around it. The best way to store tea is in an airtight container. This will keep out moisture and other elements that could degrade the quality of your tea. We recommend using a ceramic, glass, or stainless steel container rather than plastic – as some chemicals in the plastic can leech into your tea over time.
It’s better to have a smaller container that is full of tea, rather than a larger container that has more air than tea. This limits the exposure of tea to oxygen.
Pro tip: check your container to ensure that it has a proper seal. This helps ensure that no moisture can get in and spoil the tea.
We love storing tea leaves in a tinted mason jar! This also makes it easy to display your tea collection, and contributes to your home decor. The tinted mason jars protect your tea from light, but also let you use your loose leaf tea as cozy home decor.
Avoid storing tea near heat
It’s best to store tea in a cool, dry place. Heat can oxidize tea, making it less flavorful over time. If you’re like me and enjoy a hot cup of tea in the winter, try to store your tea in a place that’s not in the direct line of the heat.
We recommend storing your tea in a cupboard or pantry, away from windows and appliances that give off heat. Room temperature is the ideal temperature for tea storage.
Note: in rare instances, some teas may be stored in the refrigerator. Be careful, as this can result in condensation, which can damage the tea.
Store tea in a dark place
The light can also degrade the quality of your tea over time. So it’s best to store tea in a dark place.
If you cannot keep your tea in a dark place, consider an opaque container so that less light comes in contact with the tea, and avoid clear glass.
Here are a few of our favorite elegant decorative tea canisters you can store tea in.
If you do use tea tins, make sure that these tea containers have a seal, otherwise, the tea may be susceptible to any surrounding strong odor.
Store different kinds of tea separately
Have you ever stored a strong tasting thing next to another thing that wasn’t quite as strong? The stronger flavor overpowered the other.
Tea does the same thing, and is highly absorbent. When you store different kinds of tea together, the flavour can mix and create an undesirable taste. Store your black tea with black tea, green tea with green tea, etc. This will help to maintain the flavor of each type of tea.
Side note: want to learn about how you can take advantage of this absorbent nature of tea? Learn more about how Jasmine green tea is made – this takes advantage of the natural tendencies of tea to absorb its surroundings to make a beloved tea blend.
Tea blends should be stored separately – for example, if you store your earl grey tea with other varieties of black tea, you will likely end up with a container of bergamot flavored black tea.
Label your teas
It’s easy to forget what kind of tea is in which container, and almost feels silly to have in a post like this, but if you’re an avid collector of tea, you’ll want to make sure that you have your teas labeled. After all, you won’t want to mistake a rare puerh tea for a common black tea. That would be quite the surprise!
Pro tip: add the date you purchased the tea to the label, so you can see if you need to use it up faster and ensure that you are drinking the best, freshest tea.
What containers should I use to store my tea?
We’re glad you asked! While we have linked quite a few of our favorites, we’d love to share them again here!
Decorative tea storage containers
Tea doesn’t just have to be something you drink – it can be a key part of your decor! Remember, avoid containers that expose the tea to heat, air, and sunlight. Here are a few of our favorite containers that fit the bill!
On the go tea storage
I love using stasher bags to store tea, especially when I am on the go. The snack size bag is the perfect size for holding several tea bags, or a bit of loose leaf tea and some tea accessories, like a tea strainer, and a measuring spoon. I keep one in my work bag so that I always have access to a good cup of tea.
If you need a smaller-sized bag, you can fit several tea bags into the pocket stasher bag, and it can slide right into your pocket for the perfect cup on the go!
How to store tea bags
We can’t talk about storing tea without a special section dedicated exclusively to tea bags. It’s ok – us tea drinkers even reach for a tea bag every now and then. Not every cup of tea has to be made with loose leaf tea.
There are quite a few tea storage cabinets that include containers for many types of tea, so you can have all the tea bags you would like at hand!
These would make a perfect gift for a tea lover in your life!
Now you know how to store your tea and keep it fresh for as long as possible. Make sure to keep it in a cool, dry place with limited light exposure. If you follow these simple tips, your tea will stay delicious and fragrant for months or even years, so it doesn’t suffer the same fate as my old holiday tea blend in the back of my tea cabinet.