How to Store Loose Tea to Keep it Fresh and Tasty
In this useful article you will get simple tips on how to keep your loose leaf tea fresh and tasty for longer.
Find out why your loose leaf is going stale, how you can easily protect it, simple storage solutions, what to avoid and the benefits of choosing the correct storage solution.
How do I keep tea fresh?
There are many factors to consider when trying to keep loose leaf fresh, and it’s certainly not just about keeping it in an air tight container.
The delicious flavour that makes us love tea is made up of oils, aromas and flavour molecules. When storing the leaves, we need to find the perfect conditions to protect and prolong these characteristics.
The four major factors that can diminish the flavour include air, moisture, light, smell, temperature and time.
So, how do we protect our precious leaves? Here are some simple guidelines you can follow to keep the flavour fresh and tasty…
Exposure to air allows the leaves to absorb moisture and aromas, which can spoil the flavour. It also continues the oxidisation process, which can result in a lack of flavour or staleness.
Store in an air tight container to keep any air exposure to a minimum.
Loose tea is kept dry for a reason. It is the perfect condition to protect the flavour molecules and oils from diminishing. Exposure to moisture not only weakens the flavour, but it can also cause mould or damp to form.
Store in a dry environment away from moisture or damp areas.
Exposure to light can cause chemical damage in loose tea. Although it’s an area that needs more thorough research conducting, American Specialty Tea Alliance tells us that it can create an unpleasant metallic taste.
Store in an opaque container or in a dark environment that doesn’t receive any light.
As tea leaves are porous, over time they will absorb the smells around them, which will alter the taste. This often happens when stored in food cupboards with spices, herbs, coffee or other strong smelling food and drink.
Store in a cupboard or on a shelf away from strong smells.
High temperatures speed up the oxidisation process, which is something you want to avoid when trying to maintain freshness. For this reason, it’s important to store in a cool environment. For delicate blends such as green and yellow, you might want to store them in the freezer to prolong the freshness.
Store in a cool environment or in the freezer in an air tight container to avoid condensation.
Of course, time is one of the biggest factors that can drastically affect the flavour and freshness. Time is used to a farmer’s advantage when producing pu’er as it aids the fermentation process. However, when it comes to delicate blends such as green, there is a battle against the clock to consume the leaves before they go stale.
Loose leaf can last 1 – 2 years, but drink your tea as often as you like rather than waiting for a ‘special occasion’.
5 storage solutions for loose leaf tea
Considering these six factors, here are five easy storage solutions that will maintain taste and freshness:
- Air Tight Jar – an opaque air tight jar is a super simple solution for storing loose tea. Buy a decorative one and store on your kitchen counter to have as a design statement.
- Air Tight Bag – some loose teas already come in an air tight bag which is an easy storage solution. It’s also ideal if you’re limited for space in your cupboard as bag takes up less room.
- Wooden Tea Box – there are many wooden tea boxes available that make a real statement in your loose leaf storage. Why not get a personalised one with your name on to make tea drinking extra special?
- Metal Case – a metal case is an ideal storage solution as it is very resilient and will protect the leaves well. For a portable option look for mini metal storage cases.
- Flask – this works well as a temporary storage option if you have bought loose leaf but don’t have an air tight storage box at home yet.
How not to store loose tea
Now you’re up to date on exactly how you should store loose leaf, lets cover what you need to avoid…
Bags that have no seal. Once your tea has arrived, transfer it to an air tight container.
Glass jars that aren’t stored in a dark cupboard. Direct sunlight must be avoided, but some light might even creep into cupboards, so you may want to opt for an opaque jar.
Humid areas of the house. Avoid storing next to the kettle which lets off steam by a window which might collect condensation.
The benefits of storing loose tea correctly
Other than maintaining flavour and freshness, here are the top benefits of choosing the correct storage solution:
- Protect aroma – maintain the beautiful aroma of your loose leaf tea when brewing
- Health benefits – protect the antioxidants and vitamins that some varieties of loose leaf contain
- Save money – avoid throwing out stale tea and save money by storing it correctly
- Greater longevity – make your loose leaf last longer so you have more time to enjoy it.