If you’re wondering how to store loose leaf tea, you’re in the right place.
Have you ever wonder why your green tea always taste the best when you first bought it?
Green tea contains a high level of polyphenols such as catechins, theanine, and vitamins, making it one of the healthiest drink to consume. And, storage plays an important part to ensure they retain its important compounds that make up all the health benefit it comes with.
In this post, you’ll learn 5 biggest threat to green tea and 7 tips to store your green tea.
How Long Could You Store Loose Leaf Tea?
Loose leaf tea such as green tea can be kept for more than 12 months without changing its color when kept in room temperature. You should keep green tea in the freezer to make it last longer.
For opened pouches, it’s better to consume it within 2 months, even if it’s kept in an air-tight container.
Green tea could turn stale quicker due to the incorrect storage method.
5 Biggest Threats to Loose Leaf Green Tea
Green tea contains about 30 percent polyphenols by weight, including large amounts of catechins called EGCG. As you might know, catechins are natural antioxidants that help prevent cell damage and provide other health benefits, making green tea the healthiest drink on the planet.
The biggest threat to green tea is oxygen as tea leaves, in general, continues to oxidize over time with gradual exposure to oxygen in the air. It causes tea liquor to turn red or darker.
Most importantly, this oxidation process deteriorates catechins and vitamin C, reducing its health benefits.
You should store your loose tea in an airtight storage container. While that should be sufficient, there are a few airtight containers made specifically for coffee or tea. AirScape is the best choice to store tea leaves or even coffee beans as they share some similarities. AirScape allows you to remove the air in the storage and locks out air to preserve and protect freshness.
2. Moisture / Humidity
Moisture content in tea is an important indicator of quality and shelf life. Hence, moisture is the number 1 cause of quality loss.
Storing tea in the freezer or refrigerator will slow down the oxidation process significantly, making freezer the preferred option. It also helps the moisture to condense and freeze. Taking one step further, you should pack the tea leaves in a sealable bag and remove as much air out of it before you seal the bag.
Take extra caution when you store tea leaves in the freezer or refrigerator. You SHOULDN’T open the sealed bags right away in a room temperature. When you take out the tea from the freezer, the tea is cold. Cause of that, the tea will suck humidity from the air and produce condensation.
A couple of recommendations are packed your tea in a smaller pack so you could only take out what you need and keep the rest fresh. When you take out the tea storage container from the freezer, let it warm up for a few hours till the temperature of the tea are closer to room temperature before you open the bag to prevent any further condensation that will occur.
3. Temperature / Heat
Heat speeds up oxidation. In a nutshell, high temperature would decompose some substances contained in the tea such as amino acids, carbohydrates, and vitamins.
Low temperature slows down the oxidation reactions. The best storage temperature for green tea is 0-5 Celcius degree. If you live in a hot and humid place, it’s best to store green tea in the freezer or refrigerator.
Don’t keep your tea storage anywhere near direct sunlight or other heat sources such as ovens and stoves. These heat sources would damage the tea leaves over time and make it bad.
As mentioned before, the most important thing to remember when storing your tea in the freezer is when you take out the tea from the freezer, don’t open it until it reaches the room temperature.
4. Light (UV-rays)
Light stimulates the decomposition of Chlorophyll, a green pigment responsible for the color of the tea, in green tea. Exposure to light would turn tea yellowish brown and dissipate its aroma.
Keep your tea container in a cabinet or drawer away from direct light exposure. Loose tea leaves are kept best in a stainless steel container such as Airscape, it would prevent harmful UV-rays to reach its content.
If you don’t have a stainless steel container, go for colored glass. It would prevent your tea from being exposed to light. Try to avoid using a clear glass container or a transparent plastic bag.
5. Strong Odor
While heat and humidity would turn green tea stale, another thing to avoid is a strong odor. Green tea leaves absorb not only moist from the air but also any odors present. In fact, green teas are very good at absorbing smells from the surrounding objects.
Be extra careful when storing your tea in the kitchen or freezer as green tea would quickly absorb the smell of your food. You don’t want your tea leaves to smell like corn soup or meatball.
To prevent green tea from absorbing these strong smells, store your green tea in multiple layers of airtight protection.
How to Store Loose Green Tea at Home?
- Keep your tea storage container in a dark cabinet away from direct sunlight or indoor light.
- Consume within 2 months. The shorter time you keep your green tea, chances are it won’t go bad that quickly so drink it regularly for maximum health benefits.
- Storing your green tea in the freezer can make it last longer but take extra care of your tea. Use multiple layers of airtight protection to prevent odors from affecting your green tea.
- Don’t consume your green tea directly from the freezer. Let it warm up to room temperature before opening the container.
- Store in an airtight container. The recommended container is AirScape.
- Pack your tea in smaller packages so it’s easier to consume and reduce the risk of damaging entire tea leaves.
- Store loose leaf tea in mason jars. Use stainless storage or colored glass container to avoid light.
Could You Store Used Tea Leaves for Tomorrow?
I would personally advise discarding the tea 3 hours after it’s steeped with water. But there are times when you drink your tea late at night and you want to keep it for tomorrow.
In this case, you should dry out the wet tea leaves. Never leave your tea overnight in a teapot or Gaiwan. Leaving wet tea leaves in a teapot for an extended period of time is a very bad thing. It attracts bacteria — it’s the perfect environment for bacteria.
Instead, dry the tea leaves in a cool and dry environment with lots of air circulation. That means no cabinet