Tea is not just a pleasure, but a real ritual which must follow certain precise rules, articulated by centuries old gestures, skill and sacredness. In the same way, the way that the tea is stored is also important and must follow specific procedures so that the aroma and flavor of your favorite infusion are kept safe over time. In this article, we will explain how to store your loose leaf tea by following a few simple rules.
The 5 (plus one) rules for storing loose leaf tea
The rules for storing tea have a great deal in common with those for storing coffee (link). In fact, tea also has mortal enemies from which it needs to be protected and ideal places in which it should be stored.
Here are five (plus one) simple rules you should always follow in order to get the best tea.
Before you even decide how to store your tea, you should pay careful attention to where you buy it, choosing a store that you trust. How do you find one ? Look carefully at the containers they use in the store and, if they are made of glass, beware! Atmospheric elements and particularly light, have a very negative effect on tea. And the store owner should know that …
2) The enemies of loose leaf tea
Heat, light and humidity. These are the most lethal enemies that you should be defending your tea from, starting by choosing the right place to store it: a shelf in the kitchen should be fine as long as it is in a cool, dry place away from sunlight.
3) The container
The ideal container exists and it is undoubtedly an air-tight one made of tin, aluminum or steel. This is because this type of container keeps the tea safe from sunlight, preserving all of its delicate properties and flavor. But, if you are incurable romantics who simply cannot do without porcelain, then at least you can close your container with a sheet of aluminum foil.
4) The size
Even the size of the container can have an effect on the preservation of the tea. If you are assiduous tea-drinkers, you will be used to opening and closing the container quite frequently, but in the long-term exposure to air and light can ruin the tea. This is why you it is a good idea to use two containers: one for daily use and the other for long-term storage. In this way you don’t run the risk of ruining the tea you have bought and it will keep its delicate properties and flavor for longer.
5) Never mix!
Every variety of tea has its own aromatic notes and different properties. The best way to protect these is never to mix different types of tea by keeping them in the same container. This is the best way to preserve the authentic flavor of your favorite tea.
An extra tip for how to store teabags.
Even if the focus of this article is on loose leaf tea, we cannot leave those who prefer teabags without any advice at all. Given that it is generally easier to store teabags, you can certainly have fun choosing different containers decorated with paper, wood and plexiglass, arranged artistically.
Loose leaf tea or teabags? Which is better?
This question can lead to lengthy discussions between purists and those who prefer their tea in teabag form.
Loose leaf tea certainly requires a little more work to prepare, the filter to be used and the timing must all be strictly controlled in every phase of preparation. But, at the same time, the quality of the end product is high, since the tea leaves are whole, and thus can release a more intense flavor and all their beneficial properties.
Tea in teabags, on the other hand, is more convenient and quicker to prepare. Just bring the water to the right temperature, immerse the teabag and wait for the appropriate infusion time in order to obtain the tea we have chosen to savor. Thanks to the ongoing dedication of those working in the industry today, it is now possible to opt for pyramid-shaped teabags which, in contrast to traditional teabags, contain whole tealeaves, which inside the pyramid-shaped bag can circulate and “breathe” more.
How long does tea last?
Even if you follow all the rules that we have given you here, you must not forget that tea does not have an eternal shelf-life. On average the product lasts around 18 months, but this value changes based on the type of tea.
In fact everything depends on the level of oxidation of the leaves: the fresh green teas should be consumed within 6-8 months so that their quality remains unaltered. Black teas, which are more oxidized, can even be consumed after two years of storage as long as the product is stored in ideal conditions.
Conservation in vacuum packs is ideal for Taiwanese Oolong teas and the variety Tie Guan Yin, while this is not recommended for white teas, delicate leaf green teas and broad leaf Roccia tea.