The preservation of tea is in line with the process of its picking and manufacturing. Many tea storage accessories help preserve the taste and aroma of scented, fruit, natural and herbal teas by protecting them from light, ambient temperature and air. Keeping a tea fresh, whether it is organic, loose or in a bag, means improving its quality and paying special attention to its storage.
The taste and aroma of tea infusions challenged by its storage
Loose tea generally has a longer shelf life than tea bags, which contain broken leaves and lose their freshness more quickly. Also, the large leaves of loose teas last longer than the smaller, more fragile leaves.
Teas and herbal teas, in bulk or in bags: perishable foodstuffs?
Like coffee, teas and herbal teas are non-perishable products and can be consumed beyond their minimum durability date (MDD, formerly DLUO). However, they are likely to lose their freshness and flavour, and the leaves in bulk may change color. Proper preservation and storage of tea will ensure that its personality is preserved. The more oxidized a tea is, the longer it will keep.
The impact of oxidation on the shelf life of classic, pu-erh or matcha teas
The shelf life of a tea or herbal tea differs according to its oxidation.
- Green, yellow (very rare) and some oolong teas have little oxidation. The color of their leaves as well as their unique aroma can easily fade. Their shelf life is 6 to 12 months.
- Black tea, white tea, rooibos and many oolongs are oxidized teas and have a shelf life of about 18 months to three years.
- Pu-erh tea, roasted tea and highly oxidized oolong tea have no time limit for consumption. Pu-erh teas can even improve with time, in a dry and airy room.
- Matcha tea should be used within 1 to 2 months after opening and preferably stored in the refrigerator.
- Herbal teas are stored in a cool, dry place.
Store tea and herbal tea, in bags or in bulk, in a dry place
Tea and herbal tea, and in general, all dry foods, can be subject to pests, moisture and mold. In order to avoid this deterioration, tea must be protected from several elements of its environment.
- Air (oxygen) and humidity are the main enemies of tea. The leaves do not get damaged too much, but they lose their aroma. The infusion of green teas, more delicate, will have an altered appearance; that of black teas will be more bitter.
- Tea quickly takes on the odors of its surroundings; this is true for both storage and manufacturing (jasmine tea, for example). Similarly, strong teas, such as Earl Grey or Lapsang Souchong, should be stored separately from others.
- Teas are sensitive to room temperature and heat causes a loss of tea aroma. For white, green and matcha teas, storage in a refrigerator can be an alternative, but not all refrigerators can prevent high humidity.
- Any kind of light will degrade the tea leaves. The glass container is therefore to be avoided even if it is stored in a closed cupboard.
Tips for choosing accessories for storing loose tea and tea bags
Preserving the freshness of tea means improving its quality by storing it in the right place and in the right container so that no oxygen, humidity or light gets through.
The best products for storing loose teas
Loose teas are best stored in airtight, opaque containers. The most common are double-lidded metal storage tins, but also ceramic jars. Choosing a container that fits the amount of tea allows it to be filled with a minimum of air.
When purchasing a larger quantity, a small canister can be filled and the rest of the tea can be stored in its original packaging, eliminating the air and storing it in a larger container. Storage tins for tea are also used for ground coffee and coffee beans. In addition to metal tins, purple clay pots are also popular for the long term storage of oxidized teas, pu-erh and highly oxidized oolongs.
Storage of tea bags
The best conditions for storing tea bags are the same as for loose tea, namely to protect them from air, humidity, heat and odors. If you have different types of teas in bags, it is advisable not to store them together so that the aromas and flavors do not mix, except for teas with little aroma or a limited number of varieties. Bags sold in a carton should preferably be transferred to an airtight, opaque box. They can also be stored in a drawer or a tea cupboard.
The storage and preparation of tea are closely linked. Choosing a quality product, preferably organic, and appropriate containers to preserve it, following the consumption times and taking care of the infusions by selecting an appropriate teapot and respecting the quantity and temperature of the water, are our advices to enjoy an ideal tea.
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