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#FiveThings on Tea Storage

Our new series on #FiveThings will explore easy to remember facts, tips and teasers on all things tea, and how you can use them at home. We’re aiming to break down some of the misconceptions about tea, and make loose leaf, speciality teas more accessible in a home environment. In our new series,  we start with #FiveThings about Tea Storage…

If you’re going to invest in the best quality tea, it’s also a great idea to make sure that your storage is up to scratch.

fine-tea-trio
(L-R: Medium grade japanese-style Sencha, Yunnan Gold, Gyokuro)

1) Keep teas oxygen free:

The quality of production of tea relies closely on the manual control of oxidation that tea leaves are exposed to. Tea leaves will continue to oxidise over time with exposure to air, and therefore oxygen. Even if stored in an ‘airtight’ container some air will remain between the leaves and the top of the storage container. Whilst tea manufacturers may use nitrogen flushing or vacumn sealing techniques to help preserve the quality of the leaves by prevent oxidisation, this isn’t practical in a home environment.

AT HOME?  If you’re storing the tea in its packaging, once opened, ensure that you press the air out of the package after use, and seal opening with an elastic band or tape. Better still is to invest in some airtight containers, preferably ones that aren’t clear, to keep tea fresh. Teas that are less oxidised during their production (e.g. white and green teas) are more likely to degrade due to oxidation.

2) Keep teas away from heat:

Heat can help speed up oxidation, especially when combined with exposure to oxygen and so teas should be stored away from direct or indirect heat sources. Some experts suggest that delicate green teas are best kept in the freezer, but this opens up a whole new can of worms in regards to moisture and condensation.

AT HOME? Keep teas in cupboards or teas away from heat sources – don’t store them in cupboards above cookers or ovens, or even above where your kettle boils away. In warm countries be mindful of where sun shines into your house and where your leaves are stored. Keeping teas in containers with dark coloured outside may also help in warmer environments.

3) Keep teas away from strong odours:

Tea leaves will absorb the scents of their surroundings, they are incredible porous and susceptible to contamination. This is often beneficial when scenting teas, for example with jasmine blossoms to make jasmine scented tea, but often it leads to undesirable flavours transferring to your tea.

AT HOME? Make sure the containers in which you are storing your tea are not scented in their own right (i.e., heavy wood, or used plastic containers), and that teas aren’t stored near heavy odours (e.g. a smoking fire or kitchen). Always keep teas in their containers when not in use, and avoid mixing up a teas container, or storing more than one tea in each container.

4) Keep tea moisture free:

It’s no secret that tea leaves release their flavour when they are exposed to moisture. Because of this it is vital that you keep your tea leaves away from sources of moisture, for example a boiling kettle.

AT HOME? Always use an airtight container if possible, and don’t store tea near a boiling kettle or leave uncovered for a long period of time.

5) Keep your tea together:

Tea keeps better when stored in bulk. Try not to decant your tea into many small containers, always use a container to fit all your tea in.

AT HOME? When filling your containers, tip in as much tea as you can get to fit, let the leaves settle, tap the container to help the tea fill all the gaps and then add more tea. Remember, the more tea you fit in, the less oxygen can remain in the jar. Smaller leaf teas are easy to store in this way but are more susceptible to exposure to all the above as they have a larger cumulative surface area.