Things to Consider When Storing Loose Leaf Tea
There are five things you should consider when storing your favorite loose leaf tea if you want to keep your tea fresh.
The words “tea” and “moisture” cannot be good friends because tea’s flavor becomes weaker when exposed to moisture. Or worse, your tea can get moldy!
As a rule of thumb, you would only want moisture to meet your tea when you are brewing it before drinking (a.k.a. when tea meets water). Other than that, you have to store your loose leaf tea away from moisture! But it is not as simple as keeping it away from water or dampness. Because tea is hygroscopic, which means that it absorbs moisture from the air, you should also block the moisture in the air from getting in contact with tea, like storing it in an airtight container. An airtight container also prevents the tea from getting in touch with oxygen and causing further oxidation, so it is a win-win solution!
You should store your tea in a cool location, at least room temperature, to prevent further oxidation from happening. Too much oxidation can tamper with the flavor of your loose leaf tea, especially the delicate ones. However, this does not mean that you can store it inside the refrigerator—that place can be too moist! You should also not keep your tea near an area with a constantly changing temperature, like your stove or oven.
Sunlight radiates heat, and heat does not interact well with loose leaf tea. It can cause chemical damage in loose leaf tea, which in the end, will damage the flavor. Therefore, you should store your tea in an opaque container or a dark environment, away from the sunlight, to keep the freshness of your loose leaf tea.
Tea’s porous nature allows it to absorb not only moisture but also the odor of its surroundings. While this can be good in producing scented teas—like jasmine tea—this can be bad if the odor is unpleasant. Therefore, you should store your tea away from other things with strong odors (like spices and herbs), and most importantly, make sure that your tea container does not have a strong odor itself! Some containers have a strong wooden or rubber smell, so ensure that yours does not have it.
You may have come across some good deals on your favorite loose leaf tea before, tempting you to buy it in bulk. While it can be helpful to store your tea in bulk because there will be less surface area that is in contact with oxygen (hence, causing oxidation), you should not keep your tea for too long, especially your green, yellow, and white teas! They are more delicate than black, oolong, and pu-erh teas, which means that they degrade faster too. Make sure you strike the right balance between value-for-money, your ability to store the tea, and your ability to consume it before it goes bad.
The Best Way to Store Loose Leaf Tea
Now that you know that your loose leaf tea is sensitive, you may be wondering what the best way to store your loose leaf tea is.
Your less oxidized teas (green, yellow, and white teas) degrade faster than your more oxidized teas (oolong, black, and pu-erh teas), so you should be more careful in storing the former. Take into consideration the five things that may damage the quality of your tea—moisture, temperature, light, odor, time—and find a proper container for your tea. Why? Because the last thing you need is finding a moldy tea at the end of your tiring day.
Store your tea in airtight containers
Whether it is a bag or a jar, storing your tea in an airtight container is a good practice. It does not allow moisture to come in, so just find a place far away from strong odors (including spices), light, and heat, then you are good to go! If you are using a stainless steel container, be extra sure that your tea is far away from light and heat source, because one wrong move (or here, placement) can make your tea “cooked” and oxidized.
Avoid storing your tea in glass jars
While it may look pretty and satisfying to see your tea inside uniform glass jars (or mason jars), you should avoid storing your tea in glass jars because it allows light to come in and damage your tea. However, if you still really want to keep your tea in glass jars or you do not have any other containers, you can put the jars inside a dark cupboard in your kitchen to avoid light.
Label your teas properly
While some teas, like pu-erh, may come in forms that are easier to distinguish, other teas may look similar over time. So remember to label your teas properly to know which one is which. You can also put the purchase date on the label to help you remember the freshness—or age, if you are into pu-erh—of your tea!
Throw out your moldy tea leaves immediately
When you feel that your tea is softer and more moist than usual, has a pungent smell, or has a fuzzy white growth, that is a sign that mold has damaged your tea. You should throw it away immediately because it will not only taste bad, but it also will be bad for your health!
Ensure your container is fully dry before putting the tea in
If you are reusing your tea container, make sure it is fully dry before putting your delicate loose leaf teas in! You do not want to have moldy tea just because the container is still damp, right?
Do not store your tea in the fridge or near a heat source
As you may have known by now, tea does not respond well to heat, so do not put your tea near a heat source like an oven or stove. You should not also put it inside the fridge because a fridge is a moist place. It can cause freezing issues in your tea, especially if you store it in the freezer. Just keep your loose leaf tea at room temperature, and your tea will be alright!
In storing your loose leaf tea, you should remember that loose leaf tea is sensitive to five things: moisture, temperature, light, odor, and time. Some teas—green, yellow, and white teas—are more delicate than others—like oolong, black, and pu-erh teas—and may need extra care. Make sure that you use a proper container to store your tea, put it in a proper place, and do not store it for too long—unless you intend to age it! If you want to find loose leaf teas that have been in proper storage since day one, get your favorite loose leaf tea in BornTea now—high-quality teas, sustainable packaging, and directly shipped from the source to your doorstep.