In order to ensure that your favorite tea stays fresh as long as possible, it needs to be stored properly. Generally speaking, tea has five enemies: light, air, heat, moisture, and odor, each of which will cause the tea to gradually lose its flavor. The best way to keep your tea fresh is in an airtight container stored in a cool, dry, and dark place.
However, shelf life varies slightly depending on the type of tea. The more delicate teas – green and white tea – require more careful attention to storage and have a typical shelf life of about a year, if stored properly. The more oxidized teas – oolong and black tea – can be stored upwards of a couple of years and are less sensitive to environmental factors. Pu-erh is the outlier. Pu-erh is a fermented tea typically sold in compressed “cakes.” It continually uses air in its aging process and is, therefore, simply wrapped in paper and stored in a cool and dry place. For this tea, the older the better.
We are often asked about storing tea in the refrigerator or freezer. While this may be a perfect place to keep tea cool, the risk of odor and moisture absorption is not worth it.
And location matters – you always want to be careful what you store next to your tea. Since tea is highly absorbent, you want to make sure to keep it away from anything with a strong odor, such as coffee or spices. Treat your tea to its own cabinet…
Of course, the best way to ensure freshness and peak flavor is to drink your tea within a few months of purchase! Tea doesn’t really go bad, but the longer it sits in your cupboard, the more its brightness and flavor will diminish and the risk of taint will increase.
Raise a cup to fresh tea!