Looking to extend the shelf life on your favourite earl grey or breakfast blends by storing tea properly? After the best storage options for your brews? Didn’t even realise that most teas have an expiration date (hey, we’ve all been there before)…
Luckily, our experts at The Tea Centre have you covered. Our shelf help guide will walk you through all the best ways to store your tea below.
Location, location, location.
If the collection inside your tea cabinet looks anything like ours, we’re guessing there’s no free real estate left inside it! However, a tea cabinet or drawer that’s set to burst is also a sign that it’s time to reassess whether or not your tea is being stored correctly. Some questions to ask yourself are:
Am I storing tea in the sunshine?
Do we bask in how great our range of brews and tisanes are? Yes! Do we let them bask in the sun? Definitely not.
If your tea collection is currently stored in an area that catches the sun rays at any point during the day, it’s best to find them a new, shadier home in your kitchen. This is because light exposure and UV rays are known to degrade the quality of tea quickly.
Alternatively, if you really want to leave your tea out on the kitchen counter for display purposes, we suggest purchasing your loose leaf encased in The Tea Centre’s wooden teaboxes or signature tea tins. Not only do our tins look beautiful when displayed, but they are made from material that protects your tea from the sun.
Not to mention, our wooden tea boxes were originally inspired by stunning antique tea caddies. These caddies were lockable as they were used to store tea that was worth its weight in gold—literally! You can read all about the history of tea caddies and boxes here.
Is my tea situated near the stove?
Until it comes time to brew your tea, loose leaves and heat are not friends!
Tea lasts the longest when stored at room temperature, which is all the more reason to keep your collection hidden from the sun. Furthermore, this means it’s also best practice to set aside your tea in an area that’s located far from hot appliances like the oven.
Is my tea located next to the fridge?
Humidity isn’t just a hassle for your hair; given tea is stabilised through a drying and oxidisation process, humidity can also hinder the shelf life of your loose leaves. Therefore, until you’re ready to brew your loose leaves, keep them away from the kettle!
Similarly, you will want to store your tea collection in an area that is far removed from moisture and muggy areas like the fridge or dishwasher.
Is my tea packed in with other scented objects?
Tea lovers understand better than most that drinking tea is an extrasensory experience; it looks great, tastes great, and the scent is part and parcel of the ritual too! The reason why teas like our fragrant jasmine Buddha’s Tears and delightfully toasty Genmaicha smell so good is because tea leaves are able to absorb surrounding scents very easily.
On the other hand, however, that means a tea’s aroma can quickly turn into a miasma if your tea collection is currently sitting next to the spice rack! Tea can even absorb the taste and scent of natural materials like wood. Therefore, it’s important to encase your loose leaves in neutral airtight containers such as our tea tins so they can still be stacked together in the one area without comprising each other.
Is my tea exposed to the air?
The easiest way to deteriorate the quality of your tea is to expose it to all of the above—humidity, heat, and light—by leaving it in the open air. On top of that, exposing your tea to excessive air by storing it in flimsy containers such as paper bags may also result in having less processed loose leaves like your white or green tea to further oxidise.
Again, storing your tea in an airtight container is key!
How do I tell if my tea has expired?
Alas, all good things must come to an end and that includes tea! Unless we’re talking aged teas such as oolongs and pu-erh tea, your tea will eventually expire. All teas purchased from The Tea Centre will detail a “best before” date on the packaging. However, you can also tell if your tea has expired by trusting your senses.
A fully deteriorated tea—especially fragrant loose leaves—will have lost their scent. Given the natural oils that infuse tea leaves evaporate over time, the leaves will be more brittle and prone to breakage once they’ve expired. Lastly, the biggest indicator that your tea has degraded completely is a loss of flavour when the tea is brewed.
Just checked your tea and realised some have expired? Look on the bright side! Now you have the perfect excuse up your sleeve the next time a well-intentioned friend queries your tea-shopping addiction here.
Other quick tips from the top of the tea plant!
- The least processed teas in your collection (white, greens, and herbals) will deteriorate the quickest.
- The best way to avoid tea expiring is to purchase in small batches! Buy only as much tea as you can drink within six months and keep it in a similar-sized container.
- Have too much tea on your hands? We suggest getting your friends and family to help! Gift your excess tea away or get creative and make a cake or similar treats using loose leaves. Find The Tea Centre’s tea recipes here.
Ready to give your sizable tea collection a storage overhaul? Let us help you out with our range of nifty tins and containers here.