How to Store Tea at Home and Keep Its Quality and Freshness

When you store tea properly, the taste remains as strong and fragranced. Tea is sensitive to oxygen, moisture, heat, and UV light, and will quickly deteriorate if stored improperly. 

Some people believe that when the tea leaves are dry, the quality will remain the same no matter how it is stored. But, factually, it is very easy to deteriorate.

In this article, I will introduce to you the different methods you can use to store tea and keep its good quality.

Table of Content

What makes stored tea lose its strong flavor

Many people grew up with the habit of storing everything in the refrigerator, including tea. Storing tea in the fridge can be the worst choice to make because the tea will get moist and then rotten.

Additionally, if you store tea with other food, the smell may influence and affect the original aroma of tea.

Tea is a very delicate food. Under the following conditions, the taste and aroma will deteriorate. 

1. Temperature, Moisture, and Oxygen

When you expose tea leaves to moisture, the taste and aroma become weak. Tea leaves are shipped after being thoroughly dried to a moisture content of 3-5%, so if you open the package and leave it unattended, it will quickly absorb moisture. 

Tea should not be stored in a hot environment. Otherwise, the quality of the tea will change.

You need to preserve tea leaves in a dry place (around 6% moisture content) along with a low temperature (around 41 degrees Fahrenheit/ 5 degrees Celsius.)

In addition to humidity, contact with the air and exposure to direct sunlight promotes oxidation. This will destroys nutrients such as catechins and vitamin C contained in tea leaves.

2. Scent Transfer

As I mentioned earlier, tea leaves have the ability to absorb odors. Therefore, when you store it with other food, it will absorb the surrounding odors, which will affect the original taste and aroma of tea.

Tea Storage Methods

1. Store Tea in Cans

cans are to to store tea
Photo credit: chanoma

Typically, tea is stored in stainless steel cans, bamboo boxes, and wooden boxes. This method is the most popular amongst tea lovers, including myself. Especially for black tea and oolong tea, which are more susceptible to moisture and fragrance.

To make sure your tea is well stored, choose a double-layer can. Once you can your favorite tea, keep it in a cool place away from humidity and direct sunlight.

2. Thermos Storage

This might sound a bit odd for a few people, however; using a thermos to store tea is actually a good choice. Because it protects the tea from light, high temperature, air, and moisture perfectly.

Put the dried tea leaves into the thermos and try to pack as much as possible to reduce the amount of air. Then close it and wrap it with tape to seal it to preserve the tea even better.

3. Storing in a Glass Container

use glass containers to store tea
Photo by Ehud Neuhaus on Unsplash

Glass containers are also a good choice! Glass is known to be an effective material for preserving herbs or any kind of food.

After you put the dried tea leaves into the glass container, make sure you seal the container very well. This will allow the tea to keep its fragrance and quality for a very long time.

Read more: Lemon Verbena Tea Effects and Side Effects

4. Use a bag

Bag storage is the simplest and most feasible method out there. Firstly, choose a food storing bag with high density, preferably with seals and no odor.

Then wrap the tea with soft paper tissue or kraft paper. After that, put your tea in the plastic bag. Before you seal it, make sure you squeezed as much air out as possible and tie it tightly.

5. Store tea in the refrigerator or Freezer

I mentioned earlier that this could be a bad idea to follow it. However, you can do so only if your tea is store-bought and hasn’t been opened yet.

When you take out the tea from the fridge to room temperature before using it, and you open it suddenly, it will absorb all the moisture. Therefore, this will spoil the freshness and quality of the tea.

It is very important to know when you store tea in the fridge, the temperature should be between 32-41 degrees Fahrenheit/ 0-5 degrees Celsius.

If you’re not planning to use your tea any time soon and want to use it after a few months, just store it in the freezer.

6. Porcelain altar Storage method

use a chinaware or a porcelain altar to store tea
Photo by Edgar Moran on Unsplash

Well, if you have a chinaware altar available at your home, you should consider maybe using it to store tea. First, clean your porcelain altar very well and allow it to dry completely. Then, wrap your tea with kraft paper and put it inside the chinaware altar.

stack hydrated lime bags along with the tea. However; the lime bag shouldn’t be wrapped too tightly, otherwise, the lime will absorb enough water to expand leading the cloth bag to crack.

Cover the top of the jar with cotton balls and change the hydrated lime bags every 1-2 months. The hydrated lime bags have a strong hygroscopicity which can keep the tea leaves dry and delay deterioration.

Another way to use a porcelain altar is to put the tea leaves about 10cm away from the top of the jar. And then, cover the surface with a white paper towel. Once that’s done, put a piece of charcoal on it to absorb water and keep the tea leaves fresh and dry.

7. Store tea using Nitrogen Preservation

This method might not be an option for many people as it is difficult to deal with. But I need to include it as well.

Put the tea in a plastic composite bag, and then fill it with nitrogen. Seal the bag and put it in a dark place at a low temperature.

In fact, this might be one of the best ways to store tea and save its freshness and good quality. That is because nitrogen has an inert gas, therefore, the oxidation reaction is very slow.

Tips for storing tea  

Even tea caddies, glass jars, and zippered bags cannot completely shut out air and moisture. Even the slightest contact with the air when opening and closing the tea leaves will cause the tea to deteriorate little by little. 

Therefore, ideally, you should try to delay the deterioration of the tea by adding oxygen absorbers and desiccants found in sweets and seaweed.

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