I love my teas, every time I go shopping and spot a new flavour I just have to have it. It doesn’t matter if it is a herbal tea, a green tea or some variation on the black tea. As I have so many teas sitting at home in my cupboard, it is important to me that I store them correctly. Some teas have strong aromas which you certainly do not want contaminating a milder tea.
Added to the complexity manufactures also package their teas differently. There are the foiled wrapped teas to keep them fresher. The individually wrapped teas in pretty paper normally found in selection tea boxes. And if you are buying large quantity they are just all packaged together in a box or in a bag.
When storing tea, it is important to remember that tea does not last forever. It is important not only to store them correctly but also to have a labeling method to remember when you purchased them. They say some teas can last for two years and others, like green tea, are best used within three months.
As is true for most organic things, teas are affected by light, oxygen(air), moisture and odours. These odours don’t even need to be strong, for certain teas will easily absorb any odours floating around your kitchen. Cook a really strong spicy curry and you will be affecting your next cup of tea if you leave the teabag lying around. When teas are affected by these factors, it is not only the taste of the tea that is affected, but also the colour of the tea.
So how do I store my teas? I store the ones I use regularly in air-tight containers. For me, I like the wooden boxes with the rubber seal around the rim. This way I can leave the container on the counter top along with the container for sugar and cookies. The rest go in a dark cupboard which is only opened when I am looking for a particular tea. They go in individual airtight containers with a little white label telling me the date of purchase.
I have taken also to sticking a pretty sticker on the side so that I can recognise my teas. Lemon and Orange stickers for my Lady Grey tea, a strawberry sticker for my strawberry and loganberry herbal tea. I also have old biscuit tins to keep many of the teas that already come wrapped in individual papers. Here I am careful not to place any strong smelling teas so that they cannot infect my other teas. Each section of tea is separated with bits of cardboard (normally taken from the individual tea box) and again the date purchased is scribbled down.
I must admit I am not a fan of loose leaf tea, so I rarely buy these. But when I do, rather than storing the packet at the back of the cupboard with a peg on top (as I do for my coffees) I tend to separate it into smaller portions (either in a small container or a plastic sealable freezer bag) and then place these into an old biscuit tin. This way I know that as I shall rarely use it, I am not exposing the whole of the tea when I want to have just one single pot.