June 29 2015
To get the very best out of your infusions, here is a handy 5-point guide you can use to keep your leaves tasting fresh. For instance, black tea stored in the right way will keep well for over two years, so it is definitely worth doing right. All of these points are essentially to stop tea degrading or oxidising – and fortunately it is nice and simple. Scroll on down for our guide:
Promise me one thing. Promise that you won’t put your tea leaves into a glass jar and put them on the windowsill. Please, step away from the jam jar. They’ll look lovely, I know, but sunlight is a big offender when it comes to degrading the flavour of tea. Your tea will thank you for it. And so will I. (This is why we will never use packets that have little windows in them. Can’t abide the things).
When moisture and light combine, the enzymes that kick start the decomposition of tea wake up. So store your tea somewhere dry, away from the oven, sink or dishwasher to keep them at bay.
Find a nice cool spot for your tea leaves in the kitchen or store, and their flavour will be maintained for longer. But please don’t put your tea in the fridge! Moisture and strong smells will wreak havoc on the leaves unless you are very, very, very careful.
Some Japanese green teas can benefit from being stored in the fridge for short amounts of time – keep them well sealed in small packets – but these are the exception.
4. Strong Smells
Tea leaves are very good at soaking up the aromas around them. While this is great for blending, the last thing you want is your Darjeeling tasting like blue cheese or onions. Disaster. So keep your leaves sealed and away from strong smells. (This includes scented teas – keep your single estate and lighter teas separate to your Lapsang Souchong etc).
Some aged teas like Pu Erh will benefit from a good air flow, but normally (and to help avoid point 4) it is best to keep your tea in either their re-sealable packets or a closed caddy. Every time you open your tea, the exposure to oxygen will continue the oxidisation process so try to avoid shallow, wide storage tins. Keep as much of the tea’s surface area away from the air as you can.
In summary, keep your tea leaves sealed up somewhere cool, dry, and away from sunlight. A cool cupboard is ideal.
Extra tip: Wood, plastic and clear glass are best avoided as storage materials, but your typical tea caddy, canister or thick lined packet is absolutely fine.
So there you have it – look after your teas with these simple tips, and you can enjoy them for longer.
(and if a friend or family member has tea in a glass jar in broad daylight, bear this cat in mind. I’ll be really proud of you)