Tea manufacturers know that after you go through all the effort of cultivating and blending a particularly fine strain of tea, you need to be able to preserve those leaves for as long as possible. You do not want them to spoil before customers have a chance to enjoy them. There are several things that can interfere with storing tea effectively, but it should be possible to avoid these risks with a well-thought-through method.
What tea manufacturers, sellers and consumers should do to store tea
The first and most important thing is to choose the right kind of container. The priority is to make it opaque and airtight, ensuring it protects the tea inside from light, heat, oxygen and humidity. Stainless steel & Aluminum are probably the most popular materials. If you decide to use a glass jar, either use colored glass or keep it in a dark cupboard, so it is still protected from light. Be very careful with plastic containers, which can hold odors that can contaminate the tea.
Resalable or paper bags are sometimes employed for tea storage but should only be used for small amounts and short periods of time. Tins will allow for extended storage provided that you ensure that the lid seals tightly and you minimize the amount of time that it spends open. Not a matter of practicality, but still something worth considering, is that tea tins traditionally come with artistic decoration that can brighten your retail outlet.
Once your tea is in its tin, there are still storage considerations regarding where that container should be placed. Again, the key things to avoid are light, heat, oxygen, humidity and unwelcome odors. This means that the best place is probably inside a cupboard where it is dark and it is not too warm or too cold. Room temperature is best, and that temperature should be maintained consistently.
What to avoid
To avoid extremes of temperature, do not store your tea near radiators, ovens, stoves, toasters or other potential heat sources. Stainless steel containers, in particular, can absorb and magnify heat, and it does not take much to damage the tea. Conversely, do not store loose leaf tea in the refrigerator (except matcha) or the freezer, where cold and moisture can also be harmful. You should also avoid windows, air conditioners and other places where heat and moisture levels may fluctuate. Kettles, sinks and other areas with frequent water usage could also present a risk of contaminating damp.
Loose leaf tea is very sensitive to strong odors and flavors from elsewhere. This is why there is a strong recommendation against plastic containers. It also means you should not keep your tea in a spice rack, near a garbage can, or anywhere else where outside odors may sully the taste.
These are some of the basic steps you can take to ensure your loose leaf tea stays fresh for as long as possible. That is to the benefit of sellers, who can keep it on the shelf for longer, and the eventual consumers. Appropriate containers stored in appropriate locations mean protection from light, heat, oxygen, humidity and odors, preserving the tea’s flavor.