No matter the season or mood, there is never a ‘wrong time’ to enjoy a cup of tea. In spite of what its sell-by date may suggest, the plant boasts a substantial shelf life. Whether it be a loose-leaf variety, or a box of tea bags. Provided that these products are stored properly, it is possible to actually extend the expiration date of some of your favorite teas by at least one year. Here is everything you need to know about storing and preserving tea.
First and foremost, it is imperative to determine why you want to extend the life of your tea products. In other words, why do you drink tea? Is it to gain the benefits of anti-oxidants, the cancer-combating agents found especially in green tea? Or do you just enjoy the aroma, flavor, along with the occasional burst of caffeine?
If you hope to gain the nutritional properties associated with a particular tea blend, it is important to note that most teas, green tea in particular, begins to lose these qualities within nine months to one year of the initial harvest. This is definitely something to consider when determining how long to keep a tea.
Loose-leaf tea, while more complex to brew, is actually the easiest to store, as it typically comes in a metal tin upon purchase. After that, the tea should simply be stored in a dry, dark area. However, if you have been given fresh tea by a friend which isn’t contained, place the tea within a metal tin of your own within three to five days of acquiring it.
If you do not have a metal tin, feel free to use an opaque plastic container with an airtight lid – just make sure that it is odorless! You would not want your tea to smell like last week’s lasagna.
When it comes to storage, tea bags are a bit trickier. This is simply because they often come in a vast variety of packaging, some which are not reliable for longtime storage. Bigelow, Stash, and Tazo tea bags are the best buys, hands down. In addition to a flavorful blend, they are also contained within opaque aluminum sleeves, doing the preservation work for you. All you have to do is store them in a cool, dry place.
However, if you are a fan of another brand of tea which comes in a cardboard box, and doesn’t have a protective aluminum casing, consider placing these tea bags in a tea tin similar to the aforementioned loose-leaf teas. Just make sure to store one variety per tin, so they will not absorb one another’s aromas.