Loose leaf tea should be stored properly as light, air and moisture will affect its properties. Dry leaves are sponge like and can soak up any flavors and aromas, so they need to be kept airtight, cool and dry.
Tea leaves contain 3 percent moisture and volatile oils which are important part of its flavor. These oils can evaporate if leaves are not stored properly.
Green tea has the shortest shelf life at 6-8 months
Oolongs tea has 1-2 years shelf life
Black tea has longest shelf life of over 2 years, but if flavored or has added fruit or spices may degrade more quickly.
You can follow these guidelines to make your tea stays fresh a little longer:
- Buy this years harvest: If you start with fresh tea you have better chance that your tea stays fresh longer or to the full shelf life. Look for Vacuum packed packaging as this is a good indicator that tea has preserved its aromas and flavors since time it was packaged.
- Seal the bag: If you are storing tea leaves in a bag, make sure it can be sealed up after each use.
- Keep it airtight: Airtight container prevents the aromas leaving the tea leaves. An opaque tea caddy made of tin, ceramics or stainless steel can do the job. Make sure lining is not made of lead.
- Buy in small quantities: Large packages or amounts of tea will probably sit in the cupboard for long time. buy taster packs or small packages if you want to try a new tea.
- Keep it cool: Do not store in the fridge. Keep the tea in a cool, dry area. Store them away from spices and any source of heat.
- Try many teas: If you keep buying new teas your storage will be home to lots of teas which might stay there for several years.
- Store in the fridge: Tea leaves absorb moisture through condensation.
- Store in unlined wooden container: Always line a wooden container before using it for tea storage. or or put the tea in air tight plastic bag and then into the wooden container.
- Buy old tea: Always try to find out how old the tea is before buying.
- Expose to the light: Do not store tea in a glass or see through container. Light degrades tea leaves and lightens their color.
- Store above oven or stove: Heat from oven or stove weakens flavors of tea.
- Store with other teas: Different styles or flavors of teas should not be stored together in one container as flavors might leach into each other.
- Keep with spices: Spices could be a disaster for your tea. Tea leaves are porous and can absorb aromas from spices.