Tea is one of the most popular beverages in the world, and has been consumed for thousands of years, both medicinally and as a beverage. From a historical point of view, the demand for tea has changed the world and is ubiquitous in people’s lives. But in daily life, how should tea be preserved for a long time?
If you’ve ever brewed one of your favourite teas and been disappointed to find out that the taste has changed, improper storage of the tea may have something to do with it. What exactly is the best way to store tea, and how to extend the shelf life of tea?
The correct storage method can in fact prolong the shelf life and freshness of tea. Fresh tea is more aromatic, tastes sweeter, and is richer in antioxidants, which is why so many tea lovers want to make sure their favourite tea doesn’t go bad. How to preserve tea leaves? Let’s keep reading!
Do you know the caffeine in tea?
How Long Can Tea Leaves Be Stored, and Do They Go Bad?
Tea leaves are highly natural products, and how long tea can be stored depends on how you preserve it. As a general guideline, loose tea leaves stored in a bag can stay fresh for about four months, while loose tea leaves stored in a canister or other airtight container can remain fresh for approximately one year. After some time, tea doesn’t necessarily go bad, but it will begin to lose its original flavor.
In very rare cases, if exposed to excessive moisture and hot weather, tea might spoil. If your tea looks or smells off, it’s advisable to replace it with fresh tea. How can you tell if you’ve been drinking stale tea? Simply open your bag or canister and give it a sniff. If you don’t detect any aroma, it indicates that the tea is not fresh. All good tea should have a fragrant aroma. If the tea leaves lack scent or flavor, it’s time to get a new batch of tea.
⚑ Further Reading ⚑
Chinese Tea Culture: Origins of the Six Tea Categories
Preserved tea is a time capsule of flavors, each leaf encapsulating the essence of a season, a harvest, and the whispers of distant plantations. Unveil the jar, and let the fragrant nostalgia of preserved tea transport you to moments frozen in the amber of time.
How to Preserve Tea Leaves?
6 Ways to Preserve Tea Leaves
1. Avoid Exposure to Oxygen – Tea Leaf Preservation
Tea leaves without proper sealing can lead to oxidation and darkening of color. The best method for tea leaves is to use a vacuum sealer to prevent contact with oxygen. However, consideration must be given to the fragility of leaves, as delicate leaves may turn into crumbs under vacuum sealing pressure.
Sealing doesn’t mean the absence of air; it isolates external air from tea leaves. To address the issue of crumbs, the best method is to add nitrogen into the bag. Nitrogen prevents oxygen from entering and creates a soft cushion for the tea leaves. If vacuum sealing is not feasible, the simplest preservation method is to use a tin can, which is why loose tea is often sold in tin cans.
2. Keep Tea Away from Heat Sources – Tea Leaf Preservation
In addition to oxygen, tea leaves should be kept away from heat sources, as heat accelerates oxidation and compromises the flavor. Ensure that the storage space for tea leaves is not too close to windows or stoves, as sunlight or heat from the kitchen gas stove can affect tea flavor.
To completely avoid heat sources, you can separate tea leaves into individual bags, remove the air, and place the bags in the refrigerator. Storing tea leaves in the refrigerator eliminates the need to wait for them to reach room temperature before brewing. The rise in temperature causes condensation and reduces the overall flavor of the tea. If you prefer not to store tea leaves in the refrigerator, make sure the storage space is at room temperature or lower, such as in a cool cabinet.
3. Avoid Storing Tea Leaves in a Damp Room – Tea Leaf Preservation
While storing tea leaves near a heat source is detrimental, placing them in a damp environment is also not advisable. Tea leaves easily absorb moisture from the air, and storing them in a humid space can diminish the taste after brewing. The best way to keep tea leaves dry and flavorful is to store them in a sealed container, and you can also add a desiccant to increase the dryness of the container.
⚑ Further Reading ⚑
Advantages of Pyramid Tea Bags? Top 5 Differences in Tea Bag Tea Brewing
4. Avoid Placing Tea Leaves in Bright Places – Tea Leaf Preservation
Brightness is a factor to consider when storing tea leaves. UV rays in light can cause changes in tea leaves, leading to an unpleasant metallic taste in the tea. It is strongly recommended not to store tea leaves in transparent glass jars, as light can adversely affect the taste. Be sure to store tea in non-glass containers or in a dark place.
5. Avoid Storing Tea Leaves in Strongly Scented Places – Tea Leaf Preservation
Due to the porous nature of tea leaves, the flavor of tea is influenced by the surrounding environmental odors. Storing tea leaves in strongly scented places can compromise the aroma of the tea. When storing, carefully choose the material of the tea container, as new rubber and plastic containers can leave very unpleasant odors on the tea leaves.
6. Fill the Storage Container with Tea Leaves – Tea Leaf Preservation
If you enjoy drinking a lot of tea, you can try filling the entire box or can with tea leaves. Although it may not sound very smart, it is a very useful way to preserve tea leaves. Filling the entire container can reduce internal air and prevent unpleasant odors from entering the surroundings. If you want to extend the shelf life of tea leaves for a long time, the best method is to vacuum seal the tea leaves and store them in an opaque box.
⚑ Further Reading ⚑
Cold Brew Tea Method, Perfect Time Ratio for Easy Cold Brew Tea!
Preserved Tea, a time capsule of flavor, where each leaf holds the whispers of sunlit fields and the secrets of earth-kissed gardens. Unveil the preserved essence with every steep, and let the tea leaves unfold a story that transcends time, a taste that echoes through ages.
Tea Classroom – Preserved Tea
Which Container is Best for Storing Tea Leaves?
Look for a tightly sealed, opaque container that prevents any air from entering, such as a tin or stainless steel canister. Many varieties of tea leaves are already packaged in containers of this type, so you may consider keeping them. After finishing all the tea, clean the container, let it air dry, and then allow it to naturally air out to remove any odors before reusing it.
Does Tea Expire?
Tea doesn’t necessarily “go bad,” but its flavor will weaken over time. You can still drink it, but you’ll need to brew a larger quantity to compensate for the flavor loss. Keeping tea leaves dry and sealed allows for indefinite consumption. In fact, this is why people initially made tea leaves because the shelf life of fresh tea leaves is not as long as that of green tea, black tea, oolong tea, etc.
However, while good tea won’t spoil, its taste is more likely to deteriorate over time, losing sweetness and richness due to various chemical changes in the leaves. Lighter teas like green tea are more prone to “expiring,” while the flavors and quality of black tea and roasted oolong tea can last longer.
There are also some special teas, such as pu-erh tea, made in a way that allows the flavor to improve with age, similar to wine. Some teas are even better when aged, and sellers might tell you that or perhaps recommend trying the tea after it has been stored for a while. As long as the tea leaves do not mold or have no taste or unpleasant odor, they are worth trying. The taste preference is ultimately subjective.
Where to Buy Premium Tea Leaves? ABoxTik of Premium Tea for the Finest Tea Series
Tea is not only good for health, but also joyful and fun to consume if stored properly. To keep your tea fresh, be sure to take the time to properly store your tea in an airtight container, vacuum sealed bag or box. ABoxTik offers a broad range of high-quality Taiwanese tea. If you like tea, welcome to the official website of ABoxTik to view our products!