The proper storage of tea is of the utmost importance, as tea which is improperly stored will go stale or rancid much faster, or can accumulate impurities that both alter the flavor and aroma and can also harm the body. Therefore it is very important to learn how to properly store your teas so that they remain as fresh, clean and flavorful as possible.
There are five things which teas are vulnerable to: light, air, heat, odors and moisture. These five things will rapidly make your stored teas go bad.
Your teas should always be stored in a dark place. Never use glass or clear jars to store as sunlight or UV rays will degrade your tea very quickly. If you must use a glass jar, be sure to keep it in a dark cabinet where the light cannot reach it. Sun can also bleach out the teas, making the flavor and aroma almost non-existent. Remember when storing your tea that keeping them in a dark environment is a top priority.
Air is another enemy of tea, as air flow around your stored tea leaves will increase the chances that the tea leaves will absorb moisture and unpleasant odors from the air. Avoid leaving dry leaves laying out, or in packaging with excess air inside the bag, or storing your tea leaves in any porous material such as a resealable zipper package or container.
Please note that puerh is an exceptional. Pu-erh tea should be stored well above ground level and be given good ventilation.
Heat exposure will quickly ruin good tea as well. Avoid keeping your teas stored in sunlight or near heat sources such as stoves, ovens, or other warm places. Heat can degrade the quality of the tea, removing flavor and aroma, and increasing the chance that your tea will take on moisture.
Away from Strong Odors
Stored teas are also very vulnerable to odors, which can be useful when creating teas such as Jasmine Dragon Pearl green tea, because the tea leaves absorb the fragrance and are infused with the odor of jasmine very easily. However this tendency for tea leaves to easily absorb the odors placed near them means that you should also keep your teas stored safely away from areas in your home with strong odors, such as spice cabinets, trash cans, refrigerators and other areas which contain odors which the teas can absorb easily.
Away from Moisture
Moisture is the worst enemy of tea and can ruin an entire batch of it within minutes. Dried tea leaves are considered shelf stable because they are completely dry. Unfortunately dry leaves absorb moisture from the air very easily and quickly. Therefore, it is important that you keep your dried tea leaves away from humid areas in your home, boiling water, and other sources of moisture such as above a dishwasher vent or inside a refrigerator. Keep it far away from moisture until you are ready to brew the tea leaves, or the moisture will cause molding, caking and other unpleasant results.
Some good ideas
The very best way to store your dried teas is to keep them in an opaque container, making sure your container is food safe and does not have any impurities already in the container (wash and dry it very well before placing your dried tea leaves inside the container for storage). The best containers for storing tea are glazed ceramics, non-reactive metals and plastic containers which will not absorb smells or flavors. Do not store your teas in wooden containers or plastic sandwich bags as these will degrade the quality of the tea as well.
Make sure that you have a tight seal on your tea storage container as well to keep the light, air, heat, odors and moisture out of your tea leaves. Good options for this include a double lid, odor-free silicone sealed lids, and multi-ply bags with “reusable zippers” that some companies, including Teavivre, use to package their tea. If you purchase tea from a vendor that doesn't use adequate packaging for their teas, resist the urge to continue using that packaging and transfer your tea into a proper tea storage container.
Also it is a good idea to purchase teas in quantities that you know that you will drink quickly within a few years. Unless it is a properly stored and aged Pu-erh or aged Oolong, most other teas will go stale within 1-2 years after purchasing. Don't hold onto your old teas unless they are a properly stored aged Pu-erh or Oolong because all other teas will degrade over time. Obviously the better you store your teas, and the more you follow the guidelines laid out in this article, the longer your stored teas will last and remain fresh.
Remember to store your teas in a place away from light and any strong odors, in a dark cabinet or completely opaque container, and keep your delicate scented and floral teas stored separately from your more strongly scented or flavored teas so that the lighter teas do not absorb any of the flavor or aroma of the stronger teas, and above all, keep your teas away from humidity. Vacuum sealing your teas is also another wonderful choice for storing them as long as it is in an opaque multi-ply bag.
Following the guidelines in this article will help you to increase the life and quality of your teas, and preserve them for the best flavor, aroma and appearance as well as preserving their health benefits and homeopathic qualities.