Last Updated on 02/23/2022 by Desmond
As a tea lover, there must be various teas in your kitchen cabinet. They are in a good organization, and you think so. Maybe it is, maybe not. Tea storage is not easy, not just means to organize them tight.
What Will Happen If To Store Teas In The Wrong Ways?
Tea has a great diversity of types, and each of them has unique flavor and characteristics. Some leaves’ flavor even improves as time grows. But most of the time, leaves get worse because of improper storage.
Flavor Loss or Change
Aroma is an essential part of leaves’ flavor, especially for Tieguanyin and Lapsang Souchong, which are famous for their unique aroma. Once leaves don’t seal packed well during storage, these charming fragrances will be lost. And you will get a weak cup in your brewing next time.
Most black teas’ flavors aren’t from the aroma; improper sealing won’t have much influence on them theoretically. However, many loose leaves black tea products(like Earl Grey) belong to flavoured tea. The aroma of the others ingredients, such as Bergamot orange, is also easily run away.
Except for the aroma loss, sometimes leaves get the bad flavor they are not supposed to by the wrong storage. Dry leaves are easy to absorb the smell in the air. Once you store them with other food or stuff (like aromatherapy candles and spice) in that case, you will find that the tea taste becomes weird after a period.
What is worse than tea flavor loss? It’s the tea that’s gone bad.
Even leaves had been through drying, a certain of water still inside them. Their rich nutrition substances are also attracted various microorganisms and breed mildew. The moldy leaves look and taste terrible, and they may hurt your health if you drink them.
What Should We Pay Attention To During Tea Storage?
Actually, if you pay more attention to the following 4 points during tea storage, you can avoid most problems.
Keep Them In The Dark
Whatever the style of tea is(loose leaves, tea bags, or herbals), they should be kept away from the direct sunshine. Sunlight brings heat and makes the temperature inside the container or package high, and it may lead the leaves to ferment again or the flavor to change.
The more important is that sunlight will make the ingredients of leaves(like chlorophyll) react, leading the leaves to fade, affecting the appearance a lot. We often see people store the teas with clear glass cans. Indeed it’s beautiful. However, they should be placed in the dark cabinet but not the rack full of sunshine.
Appropriate Temperature and Humidity
Tea needs to be stored under the appropriate temperature and humidity according to its type. Typically, temperature influences the leaves less; keeping it at normal(0℃-25℃) is ok. To the tender green teas(like Longjing), a lower temperature(about 0℃-5℃) can help keep their flavor for a longer time.
To manage humidity is harder than temperature, and it’s more important. The dried leaves easily absorb the water in the air and lead to mold. Theoretically, all the spaces for storing tea need to keep the humidity under 50%. However, the dark teas(like Fuzhuan Brick Tea), which need improving flavor by aging and microbe, need a storage space with a relatively higher temperature and humidity.
Suitable Storage Place
A fridge may be the most ideal place for almost all food for keeping fresh, but may not for all the teas. Although a fridge can provide an appropriate low temperature, the humidity inside is typically high. Under the low temperature, the moist air easily infiltrates inside the tea packages, condenses into water drops, and wet the leaves.
A fatal problem is that the foods in the fridge send various smells, affecting the tea’s flavor. So, except for green tea, the other types of tea are not recommended to store in the fridge. And for green tea, you also need to ensure it is in a well-sealed package.
So, what’s the best place for storing tea at home?
Making a special space in a cabinet or a drawer seems to be a good idea. They provide a dry, dark, and relatively cool environment. And this special place should not allow any other stuff in, just for tea storage. If you are interested in aging dark tea, it is best to equip a box that is possibly free to manage temperature and humidity.
Proper Tea Storage Container
Choosing a fittable container for storing tea according to its type is essential. You can know about the pros and cons of each storage container here.
Notes On Each Loose Leaves Storage
Green Tea and Yellow Tea
Yellow tea has been slightly fermented, and green tea is non-fermented; tender and fresh are their common characteristic. They need to be stored in an environment at a low temperature(0℃-10℃) to keep fresh. Even though a fridge seems not so ideal, it may be the only option for green tea and yellow tea in most regions.
Thus, before you put these loose leaves in the fridge, you’d better wrap them well with a sealable aluminum pouch, then store them in a cardboard can to thoroughly isolate the air and smell in the fridge. Of course, the best you should do for the tender leaves like green and yellow is finish them ASAP rather than store them for a long time.
Tender white tea like Baihao Yinzhen, the storage requirement is the same as green tea and yellow tea. But to the old white tea like white peony, it is also fittable improve the flavor by aging. The white tea aging theory is not the same as dark tea; you just need to store it at room temperature (10℃-25℃) and dry enough place. Typically, white peony tea is compressed into a cake, and it has a kraft wrapping that helps better against dampness.
Black tea belongs to complete-fermented tea, and it has the lowest requirements to the storage environment. 10℃-25℃ and under 50% humidity is enough. Rich black tea products in the market usually with great individual packages(such as an iron can), it’s very convenient for storage.
According to the fermentation and roast degree, Oolong tea is classified into Qing-flavor and Strong-flavor types. The Qing-flavor Oolong like Tieguanyin can be stored as the green tea way(in a fridge). And the Strong-flavor Oolong like the Rock Teas can be stored in the usual way like black tea.
A funny thing is that some rock tea lovers love to store the teas for a long time. They will take out the teas and re-roast them every once in a period, for getting a deeper roasted flavor and further remove the moist.
Dark tea belongs to post-fermented tea, Ripe Pu-erh, Anhua dark tea, and Fuzhuan brick tea are the famous types. Most tea lovers love to store them for years to improve their flavor. This process is called aging.
During the dark tea processing, tea masters will add some microorganisms in the leaves for helping fermentation. During dark tea aging, it is necessary to keep the proper temperature(over 20℃) and humidity(about 60%) to keep these microorganisms alive and transform the leaves’ ingredients.
To aging dark tea successfully is complicated; it needs a long study, rich experience, and enough patience. If you are not going to aging your dark tea cake, just store them in the black tea’s way.
Almost all the herbal teas are made by just drying the herbs simply. They have fewer requirements for the storage environment; a clear glass can is ok. What is worthing knowing is that you should pay attention to the insect prevention job, particularly those DIY herbal teas.
Ever I had a pouch of chamomile tea. And when I open it again after some time, I found it is full of tiny bugs inside. That was terrible! Maybe it was because the herbs were not dry enough, I suppose, and the sweetness smell attracted the bugs. Or the clean job was lazy during this chamomile tea were processed, the worm eggs hatch when the temperature became suitable.
How To Store Tea Bags
To store tea bags is much relatively easy. Most tea bag products on the market are with individual packages, one pouch for one brew. And you won’t be going to aging any tea bags; that’s meaningless. Just store them at a place far away from the sunshine, keep the average temperature, and dry. You can have the same flavor and experience from each brew during the expiration date.
However, some tea bag products do not have an individual package; they are just packed in a big pouch. Once you unwrap it, you will find the flavor losing much in your next brew.
All you need to do for these tea bags without individual packages is simple. After you unwrap it, pack it again with a sealable plastic food pouch is ok. It will be better to do further – put them into cardboard or iron can for better against sunshine and damp.