The Storage of Tea

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.

Why does the tea deteriorate?

If it is not stored properly, even the best tea will be easily deteriorated, turning into dark color, stale taste, even mildew, which is essentially caused by the change of substances in tea. If the tea is exposed to high temperature, humidity and sunlight, the ingredients in the tea will accelerate transformation, so as to deteriorate the tea in a short time, especially for the newly picked green tea every spring.

The main factors causing the deterioration of tea:

1. light

2. temperature

3. humidity

4. oxygen

5. microorganisms

6. odor pollution

7. Tea moisture content

The deterioration caused by microorganisms is affected by temperature, moisture and oxygen, while the odor pollution is related to the storage environment. Therefore, the key to the storage of tea is the proper conditions of temperature, humidity, light and odor, making proper storage method and good container essential, which include metal cans, colored glass bottles, and purple clay pots.

source: Tea Research Institute of Sichuan Academy of Agricultural Sciences, China Testing Technology Research Institute

How are different teas stored and how long are their shelf life?

Green tea and yellow tea: Compared with other types of tea, green tea is easily oxidized and deteriorates dry tea leaves, prone to lose original color and unique aroma, especially for high aroma tea like Longjing. Since low temperature can effectively reduce the oxidation reaction rate and maintain the freshness of tea, thus the low temperature storage is best for green tea. The first step is putting the tea into a dry and clean iron can, filling it as much as possible, and then seal with a lid (or sealed zipper bag).Finally, it would be much better to cover the can with a few layers of fresh-keeping bags before entering the refrigerator with temperature controlled at 0-5 °C. In the storage process, a note should be taken: do not store food carrying too much odor with green tea. Within the similar crafts to green tea, yellow tea is also suitable for the preservation method of green tea.

The best containers: aluminum foil bag, metal can, store in refrigerator

Shelf life: 18 months

source: Tea Research Institute of Sichuan Academy of Agricultural Sciences, China Testing Technology Research Institute

Oolong tea: Oolong tea belongs to semi-fermented tea, between black tea and green tea. Based on the baking degree of oolong tea, the non-roasted Tieguanyin should be stored in the refrigerator at low temperature in order to maintain its freshness and original taste. While for rock tea, strong-flavored Tieguanyin, and some heavy-backed Dan Cong tea, they can be stored at room temperature. Tin can, iron can, porcelain jar, and double-layered tinplate tea can are all perfect for storing Oolong tea. It should be mentioned that the tea canister must be filled, so as to reduce oxidation, and then seal it. If there’s no suitable can, aluminum foil bag may also be a good choice.

The best containers: tin can, iron can, porcelain can, etc.

Shelf life: 24 months

Black tea: Black tea has lower water content, easily damping or losing scent. In the process of storage, different types of tea should not be stored together. Generally speaking, black tea can be placed in a closed and dry container, away from high temperature and sunlight, among which tin foil and tin can are fine, while purple clay caddy or tin can is the best to avoid sunlight. In short, black tea can be stored for a long time as long as far from light, high temperature and odor.

The best container: tin can, iron can, ceramic pot, purple clay jar.

Shelf life: 36 months

White tea: White tea is light fermented tea, such as white silver needle, Gong Mei, white peony, etc. Due to its large part of moisture retention, dryness and seal should be paid much more attention. In general, the longer the white tea is stored the deeper color of dry tea and the mellower taste of tea soup. It can be wrapped in an aluminum foil bag, with an outer carton sealed by tape. Without any special circumstances, package should not be opened too often, in order to avoid air accelerating tea’s oxidation. In addition, it is also fine to directly store the bulk white tea in the aluminum foil bag.

The best containers: tin bottle, porcelain jar, colored glass bottle, and carton.

Shelf life: the aged the better

Pu-erh tea and dark tea: As a kind of dark tea, Pu’er tea should be kept in ventilated, dry and odor-free environment, which is the key to store this tea. Kraft paper or cotton paper with good air permeability can be used, but plastic bag must be avoided. For individual household storage, Pu’er can be stored in purple clay pots or ceramic jars after removing outer wrapper, and then covered with the lid. Pressed tea such as cake tea and brick tea can also be displayed on a tea rack, making it ventilated and breathable. Because tea has the characteristics of easy to odor absorption, once it inhales odor during storing process, the original scent of tea leaves will be destroyed.

The best containers: kraft paper bag, purple clay pot or ceramic jar.

Shelf life: the aged the better

Herb tea: Herb tea should be placed in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight, because light, moisture and temperature are the main enemies to store original herb tea. The sealed can is the best preservation vessel for this tea, which can prevent the tea from being deteriorated by moisture. If you use the original bag, remember to squeeze the air out, and then seal it with a clip. The shelf life can be extended to about 2 years in the refrigerator. However, the usual preservation does not need to be refrigerated; a sealed glass jar is enough.

The best containers: sealed can, original package.

Shelf life: 18 months

Not recommended tea storage container

Plastic bag: It is easy to produce odor in sealed and high temperature condition. Closing to strong light, it is liable to oxidize or cause sun-like odor so as to weaken tea fragrance.

Transparent glass: Because the light oxidizes the substance of the tea, it will not only weaken the tea aroma, but also affect the quality of tea.

Thick paper bag or fresh-keeping bag: It is likely to absorb various odors of food in refrigerator.

Newspaper: There’s no doubt that tea will absorb the ink smell of newspapers.

What should I do if the tea leaves get damp during storage?

When encounter great air humidity, the tea leaves are prone to soak up moisture. Without mildew, tea can still be restored by some remedy, but if mold has already occurred, this tea should be discarded.

In general, the easiest way to treat damp tea is sun-drying. However, this method has a disadvantage that under the exposure of ultraviolet rays, the various components in the tea will be destroyed, affecting its color, aroma and taste. Therefore, we recommend frying the tea with low-temperature micro-frying by iron pan, oven, microwave oven, etc. During this operation, it is necessary to turn the tea leaves from time to time until dry to emit tea aroma, and then seal it in a dry container.

The above method for saving damp tea can be applied to green tea, oolong tea and black tea, etc. But for post-fermented tea like Pu’er, it can be placed in a cool and ventilated place, drying naturally if only slightly affected by moisture. While if there are some white spots on damp Pu’er tea, it should be patted by clean cloth first, and then put the tea in a ventilated and breathable place for a few days, slowly dispelling the musty smell. In addition, if you are pursuing the quality of tea, the damp tea can be used for other purposes to avert the pity of abandon, such as flower nourishment, face washing, foot bath etc.



If you enjoy this article on tea storage, you might also like to read the following articles:

◆How to store black tea properly

◆Green Tea Storage Tips

◆Good Ideas for the Proper Storage of Tea

◆Storage Tips on Xinhui Mandarin Pu-erh Tea

◆Shelf Life of Tea

  • I just received a gift of a variety of teas, silk sachet bags in sealed packets. They came in two tin containers that are sealed pretty tightly, but I know I won’t drink all of it any time soon. Would you recommend storing the tins in the refrigerator? My thought was to put them in a cabinet that is dark and cool…I would appreciate hearing from you about this.

    • TeaVivre

      Thanks for your question.
      If you don’t plan drink them rink all of them soon. I suggest you store the tea according their type. You can store the black tea, white tea and Pu-erh in a dry, dark and cool place, while the green tea and oolong tea, you’d better store them in a refrigerator. 0-5℃ would be a good choice most of this kind of teas.
      Hope it helps.

  • good

    • TeaVivre

      Thanks for your appreciation!

      If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us!

  • Hi, how should I store black teabags if I want it to be good for over a year past best by date? Should I remove from original packaging (box) and put it in airtight bags (I have a vacuum seal)? Should I freeze or not? Thanks!

    • TeaVivre

      Thanks for your question.

      Generally, black tea needs to store in an airtight, opaque packaging, and keep in cool, dry place. So, it’s better to store the teabags in the vacuum seal.

      Besides, I recommend you’d better finish it before the expiry time, because the taste and flavor would be the best before it.

      Hope it helps, and if you have any further questions, please feel free to contact us.

  • Hi! I just bought a big batch of my favorite tea as it has been discontinued so I want to keep it as long as possible. I noticed that depending on the tea, you suggested different methods (aka freezer or fridge). I bought white flavored tea and black flavored tea. I was thinking about air sealing it in a ziploc bag and then putting that bag in an air sealed metal container. Then I figured I would put it in the fridge or freezer. Is the sealed plastic a good idea to minimize any air circulation around the tea and which is best for black flavored tea and white flavored tea: fridge or freezer? Thank you for your help! 🙂

    • TeaVivre

      Thank you for your question.
      Fridge and freezer are not good choice for store black tea and white tea.
      Black tea belongs to the whole fermented tea, aging is slower, easier to store. And the white tea, Natural aging will make the white tea taste better, The ideal temperature to store the white tea is 4 ℃ -25 ℃, especially the flavored tea, Low temperature will made aroma weakened.
      You can store the tea in a closed container, in cool, dry place away from sunlight; keep ventilated.
      Hope it helps.

  • JF

    Good morning,

    I bought green tea from China and the leaves were kept in a deep freezer when I bought them.

    There were in my suitcase for several days when I travelled. Can I now refreeze them in my home? Or is tea, like food, dangerous to refreeze?

    Many thanks in advance for your help

    • TeaVivre

      Thank you for your question.
      The green tea is not suitable for deep freezing. The best method is sealed stored the tea in the refrigerated room or fridge with about 5 degrees Celsius.
      Deep freezing would make the water of the tea leaves freeze and damage tea cells. It made the tea rotten quickly.
      You’d better drink it as soon as possible after it unfreezed.
      Hope it helps.

  • K

    Little flea like insects stick to my tea after a while. How can I avoid this? I store then in plastic containers. Thank you.

    • TeaVivre

      Thanks for your question.

      Plastic containers is not suitable for tea storage. Because it is transparent and will not avoid sunlight. If the temperature in the container is too high, it may breed insects.

      Besides, we should keep tea in an airtight container away from high temperature, sunlight, moisture and abnormal taste.

      So, here we recommend you use stainless steel cans, porcelain cans, Zisha cans to store tea.

      Hope it helps.

  • Okay, I need something cleared up. Is glass itself (as in the material) actually bad for the tea, or is it just glass that’s NOT opaque that’s bad for it? My mother has stored loose leaf tea in opaque glass containers for YEARS without having an issue. She even painted the outside of some nice jars (with paint that is safe to use for cups, bowls, and any other glass/ceramic/porcelain thing that comes in contact with food) for her tea a few years back, again with no issues whatsoever.

    • TeaVivre

      Thanks for your question.

      Glass itself is not bad for the tea, we generally said that do not use glass jar to store tea is due to the transparent glass jar cannot isolate sunlight or UV rays, so that they will affect the aroma and taste of tea.

      Of course, as you mentioned, it is ok that store tea in opaque glass jar, and make it well-isolate from sunlight.

      Hope it helps your concern.

  • Just bought 2 tins of oolong tea can you advise how to store tea, is it ok to keep tin in fridge till first tin is finished.
    Is it better to keep it in aluminium bag it came in inside the tin
    Thank you

    • TeaVivre

      Thanks for your question.

      Our canned tea has double resealable packages for tea storage. You can absolutely storage it directly in refrigerator until you finish the first.

      If you want save some space, you could also keep the tea in aluminium bags and keep in refrigerator, as long as the bag is airtight and opaque.

      Hope it helps!

  • Dr Oz said : Oolong tea has a special ability to help sharpen you mind and ability to help your memory is there any studies on this?

    • TeaVivre

      Thank you for your question
      We are a group of tea lovers, who all share a passion for drinking tea and appreciate the healthy lifestyle it brings. Many research and studies show that several components of oolong tea have positive effect on heath. include benefit brain function.
      caffeine can increase the release of norepinephrine and dopamine. These two brain messengers are thought to benefit mood, attention and brain function.
      Flavonoids are antioxidants that have a host of health benefits. It can exert beneficial effects in the central nervous system by protecting neurons against stress induced injury, promoting synaptic plasticity, memory and cognitive function.
      theanine, an amino acid in tea, may also help boost attention, relieve anxiety and improve cognition.
      Hope it helps.

  • hi i have 15 5gx52 bags of oolong tea, i need to store it. what is the best way to store it over the next year use. can i freeze it. it is all in airtight bags please help nanettebartels

    • TeaVivre

      Hi Nanettebartels,
      There are five things which teas are vulnerable to: light, air, heat, moisture, and odor.
      Due to your teas all in airtight bags . you can keep it in a cool, dark place away from light, heat . it’s a good choice to keep it in freezer compartment if you want to store it for more than one year.
      Please be noted that,you’d better check it carefully to make sure the tea is sealed before you put it in a refrigerator,because it will expose your tea to moisture and odors from the other foods kept in the refrigerator.
      Hope this is helpful to your concern.

  • May

    How about flowers for teas (not blooming/flowering tea), is the storage method the same?
    How long do they usually last, does putting in the fridge helps?

    • TeaVivre

      Thanks for your question.

      Please make sure that your tea is far away from light, air, heat, odors and moisture when stored. Generally, the shelf life for flowers, such as rose, Chrysanthemum, Jasmine, is 18 months.

      A Refrigerator is okay for storage, please note that, the tea must be carefully sealed before you put it in a refrigerator, because it will expose your tea to moisture and odors from the other foods kept in the refrigerator.

      Hope it helps.

  • So I bought loose tea when I was pregnant with my daughter over 3 years. It was a special blend for pregnancy and I have no idea what it was but we are looking to get pregnant again and I was wondering if I could use the left over this time around. I have stored it in a plastic oxo container inside a pantry.

    • TeaVivre

      Thanks for your question.

      Before you drink this loose tea, here are some elements that may give you a help to judge a tea whether go stale:

      Appearance: Become mildewed and have a stale taste. If your tea has one of these characteristics, it means go bad.
      Brewed Tea Color: The appearance of tea turns red, and its tea liquid become brown and dark, these mean the tea go stale.
      Taste: Stale tea has a hint of slightly grassy, bitter and sour taste.

      If you store properly and keep it in a dry place, the stale tea can also drink, it’s just not as good as fresh ones. I noticed that this was special blend for pregnancy, so here I kindly suggest you considering buying a new one.

      Hope it’s helpful.

  • Hi, I am working with dried green tea extraction. I need to store my green tea sample for a long time. I packed it airtight aluminium bag and kept at refrigerate. Is it Ok?

    • TeaVivre

      Thanks for your question.

      Yes, that’s okay. Please be noted that, the tea must be carefully sealed before you put it in a refrigerator, because it will expose your tea to moisture and odors from the other foods kept in the refrigerator.

      Hope it’s helpful.

  • I Have large amount of Soursop fresh Leave in my Farm Land. which i want to be export as dry Leaf tea to abroad.I was suggest if Paper Tube will be the best storage for Dry Leave tea 1 or 2 years storage? Please i need your help. Thank

    • TeaVivre

      Thanks for your question.

      There are five enemies that you should keep them away when storing the tea: light, air, heat, odors and moisture. Please make sure that the tool you choose is air tight and put them in a dry and cool place. Then your tea will be well stored without lose it original flavor.

      Hope it’s helpful for you.

  • Hi,

    I have an experiment that dealing with fermented tea even before the drying stage…I was wondering what will be the best storage for keeping the fermented tea in good condition because I have to transport the fermented tea around 4 hours before reaching my laboratory

    Thank you

    • TeaVivre

      Hi Rumaisa,
      Thank you for your question.
      There are several kinds of fermented teas. White tea, black tea, oolong teas and ripened puerh teas.
      Considering the you only need to keep the tea for 4 hours, I think it is ok that you keep the tea in a sealed tea tin, and put in a dry place.
      For long term storage, you’d better keep oolong teas in refrigerator.
      And I’m sorry that I haven’t stored the tea before drying, I think I can’t provide professional advice on this issue.
      Hope this is helpful to your concern.

  • I have large amounts of Darjeeling and Jasmie loose leaf tea (2#/ea) and need to store the extra # of each. Will it keep in a refrigerator in a proper container? It was shipped in thick brown paper bags. Can I put the unopened paper bags in a plastic food storage bag and store in the refrigerator or woudl the pantry be a better place?

    • TeaVivre

      Hi Dan,
      Thank you for your question.
      To store the unopened jasmine tea, you can put the paper bags in the plastic food bags, and then store them in the refrigerator away from odor. This is good for keep jasmine tea. And for the opened jasmine tea, you’d better store them in a reseal bag or a tea tin, and then put it in the refrigerator.
      As for Darjeeling, I’m sorry that I don’t know much about it. However, it is a Black tea, so i think you don’t need to store it in the refrigerator. You just need to keep it from odor, that’s enough. Maybe pantry is a good place.
      Hope this is helpful to your concern.

  • My sister shipped some oolong tea to us from China, but when we opened the box we noticed that the tea had absorbed the odors of some other things she had packed with it. It’s a very strong, unpleasant smell. Is there anything we can do to get rid of the smell?

    • TeaVivre

      hi Zhang Bei,

      Thank you for your question.
      I’m sorry that I can’t know the smell of the tea, and can’t tell what happened to your teas.
      As you know, tea is very strong in absorbing the smell from other things, so tea sellers always pack the tea very well to avoid the tea absorb foreign smell in the transit.
      If your tea really small unpleasant, I’d like to suggest to do not drink it anymore.
      Hope this is helpful to your concern.

  • We have Green Tea that has been stored in an attic. It is sealed in plastic in the dark but the heat does get high. We would like to use this in Kambucha. Will this affect the quality?

    • TeaVivre

      Hi John,

      Thank you very much for writing to us.

      For the green teas, you can packed the teas in a sealed container and then put it into refrigerator. The it can keep the teas well.

      Hope this is helpful for you.

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