Even when it comes to a simple cup of tea, many of us find ourselves looking at the economy and buying in bulk. However, when it comes to tea improper storage of bulk supplies can result in a smart move rewarded with flavorless, bland, and stale tea. Fret not though thrifty shopper! There is a proper way to store tea which will keep it fresh for up to six months.
I limit even the best method of storing tea to six months because it just doesn’t tend to keep longer than that. Unless of course you’re a fan of pu-erh tea which is best aged. Chances are a six month supply is all the bulk you’ll want to buy anyway. Also note that some types of tea, Japanese Green Tea for example, will not keep for extended amounts of time no matter how it’s stored. Some tea is meant to be experienced fresh.
Tea is extremely sensitive to light, moisture, odor and air. First you’ll want to pick a location that retains a steady temperature. Don’t ever store tea in refrigerators or freezers the way you would coffee to retain its freshness. The humidity and constant, even if slight, fluctuations in temperature from the door opening can cause not only a loss of flavor but molding. This location should also be free of foods with strong odors, such as the spice cabinet. Tea will absorb the odors around it, unless you’re trying to make you’re tea taste like garlic, this is of course, a bad thing.
Second you need to pick and air tight container that is not see through. Many people claim the best way to store tea is in glass air tight jars, this is untrue. The light causes the tea to lose its color as well as certain subtle flavors. A glass jar won’t ruin tea, but it doesn’t keep it at its best. If you do opt to use a glass jar choose a dark cabinet or tinted glass.
The best containers for tea are actually air tight tin or metal boxes. Earthenware is a second best. However, be weary because some earthenware, most notably terracotta, will absorb moisture and literally dry your tea to flakes.
So in summary, tea is best kept in a dark, dry location with steady temperature and humidity within tin or metal air tight containers. Kept in these conditions most tea will keep up to six months and your bulk tea shall not be wasted.