I remember the first sip of quality tea that I ever had tasted. It felt a bit like I was a day late and a dollar short—how did it take so long to realize that paying a few extra bucks for quality tea could result in something so sensational? It’s not atypical for people to think that all loose leaf teas are pretty much created equal. If this can be assumed, then it’s likely people often ignore the container they’re storing tea in. Loose leaf tea is no different than coffee, herbs, or oils in that where you place them—and the container you store them in—can dramatically affect their taste.
I’m a coffee guru and shop for the best single-origin coffees from around the globe. But I’m not nearly as familiar with how to properly store tea and what to look for in a tea container. I asked the folks over at NovelTea Tins to review this article for authenticity and to provide their insights. NovelTeas design decorative tins with loose leaf tea inspired by books. They know how to properly store tea and the best way to keep it fresh. They were also kind enough to lend their expertise for this article and did so without sponsoring this post.
To improve the taste of your tea, look no further than the way you are storing it. Here’s what you need to know about storing tea in the proper container … in 5 minutes.
Does tea go bad?
The answer to this is of course yes. But the better question is how long until good tea goes bad? When it comes to storing loose leaf tea, it’s very important to make sure the leaves are kept away from heat, air, and light. Thus, it’s ideal to keep your tea storage container away from the stove or sink. Tea leaves can last up to two years, assuming they are kept dry and in an airtight container where the leaves aren’t exposed to air. Fermented tea leaves have more “good bacteria” that will in essence stave off bad bacteria, at least for a period of time. So tea leaves that are more fermented, like black tea, will last longer than teas that are less fermented, such as green and white tea leaves.
Does tea have to be refrigerated?
Tea leaves can be stored in the fridge, but it’s not ideal. Condensation and moisture in a refrigerator are not great for tea leaves, as it can induce mold and cause the leaves to degrade. Another issue with the refrigerator is that it usually is smelly and the tea leaves will absorb these odors.
The above being said, certain delicate teas, like green and yellow tea could benefit from being stored in a fridge or freezer. Just make sure to place them in small airtight packets and squeeze out any air before you place it in the fridge. It will take a few hours for the tea to reach room temperature when you want to use the tea, so keep that in mind.
Loose leaf tea storage containers
Lest we forget that tea leaves grow on plants, which are subject to different amounts of sunlight, oxygen, and moisture. Everything from the amount of UV light to how long tea leaves are exposed to air (i.e. oxidation) can influence their flavor profile. Given this, the method in which you store tea can impact the freshness, flavor, and overall shelf life of tea leaves.
Is Glass a good tea container
Any container that allows tea leaves to become exposed to direct sunlight is a bad idea. So though it may look nice, a clear glass container may not be suitable for actual storage if it is not kept somewhere dark. The darker, more airtight, and away from heat you can get, the better your tea will hold up and maintain its flavors.
…What about storing loose leaf tea in a metal tin container?
There are no drawbacks to storing tea in a tin container. So long as the container does a suitable job of blocking light, tin containers are perfectly suitable for tea storage. Seeing as many tins are not airtight, it is worth considering keeping the tea in a bag that prevents air from coming into the tin. But no matter how you choose to store loose leaf tea in the tin container, don’t forget to avoid storing it near heat.
Can you re-use loose leaf tea?
Just like a good book that you can read over-and-over (warning: cheap plug), many loose leaf tea blends can be steeped several times. Oolong and white and green teas in particular can be steeped twice if not three times and still provide a great flavor experience. Keep a pot next to you while you read and keep pouring (and refilling).
What else affects the taste of tea
Teabags and loose leaf tea are not created equal. One of the most important factors affecting the taste of tea is the size of the leaves. Cheap tea bags, for example, will often contain dust instead of dried leaves. This makes a lot of people trying a certain tea for their first time assume that it’s not for them, whereas if they were to try real loose leaf tea they’d have a totally different flavor experience.
If you take anything away from this post, it hopefully is:
- Tea containers don’t have to be boring. In fact, one of the best ways to enjoy tea is to find a way to make it feel personal to you. A decorative tea tin can do exactly that.
- Tea leaves kept in a glass jar should be airtight and kept away from the light.
- Green and white teas have different properties than black tea and subsequently could require different means of storing.
- Loose leaf tea is by and large going to offer a better, more pure taste. It might cost a bit more, but it will last longer and you’ll be able to steep it multiple times.
If you’re looking for a creative way to store loose leaf tea, NovelTeas decorative tea tins are linked in the author box below. No matter which tea container you choose, hopefully, this article offers fresh information on how to extend the life of tea leaves.