Dedicated tea drinkers will generally invest a fair amount in good quality teas. Therefore it’s a good idea to consider the best way of protecting your favourite loose leaf teas. Well-stored tea will have a longer storage life, prolonging the quality of the leaf for a consistently premium brew.
The following are some basic rules to take into account when looking at tea storage:
- Tea should not be exposed to light, heat, moisture, air, or odours.
- Light and heat bleaches leaves and evaporates natural oils that are present in traditional teas as well as essential oils in flavoured teas, and affects other additives like flowers, fruits, and herbs and spices thus reducing the flavour content of tea blends.
- When looking at tea containers, or tea ‘caddies’, an airtight seal is ideal, but generally a good, tight seal will suffice.
- Where possible, allocate a caddy for each tea and continue to use the same caddy for the same tea. This will help prevent possible cross contamination of flavours.
- Tea lasts longer when stored in larger quantities, which is why most tea specialists will store their tea in large tins.¹
- Avoid plastic or glass containers.
- Plastic can sometimes impart flavours on your tea.
- Glass jars or containers can be fine if they are stored in a dark cupboard. However, sitting them on the kitchen bench will allow light and heat to affect the leaves.
- Tin tea caddies are generally considered the most effective in storing tea leaves. These usually have the best seal and if kept out of sunlight and heat, the cool surface temperature of the tin is perfect for keeping tea.
Pictured is a Gilt silver tortoise-shaped tea box discovered in China’s Famen Temple so you can see that caddies of different types have been used for for a long time.
Many tea caddies, over time, have become valuable artefacts and collectors’ items. Just some examples include the gilt silver tortoise-shaped tea box found in China’s Famen Temple², or Toshiro-yaki jars from 13th century Japan, which were used for keeping powdered tea — a rare luxury at the time³. Even the more recent decorative tea tins that have been fashionable for the last century or so have become treasured vintage pieces.
The Tea Centre’s own traditional tea tins bring memories flooding back to many people who visit our stores for the first time and comment on how their grandmothers had the same tin design all those decades ago.
So whether you’re a pot-a-day person or sparingly savour your leaves for special occasions, an inexpensive investment in a good tea caddie will ensure that you’re getting the best out of your tea leaves each time you open the lid.
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 Ellis H. Tea: Discovering, Exploring, Enjoying. London: Ryland Peters & Small; 2002
 Cultural China. Royal Tea Set in the Tang Dynasty [Internet]. Shanghai: Cultural China; 2014 [cited 2014 Nov 25]. Available from: http://www.cultural-china.com/
 Brinkley, Captain F. Japan, Its History, Arts and Literature History Arts (Vol. 8). London: Forgotten Books; 2013