Posted on Feb 16, 2021 67
One of the most common questions that all tea drinkers ask is what is the shelf life of tea and how to store it properly. There are many theories circulating on the Internet, but which of them is true?
The taste of the tea we drink is not only related to the quality of what we buy, but of course how we use and preserve it. So don’t hesitate and read on, we’ll explain it all to you!
Does tea expire?
Tea is a product with a long shelf life. It is important to remember that drying is a natural preservation process.
Rather than expiration date, in the case of tea we should speak of best-before date. Let us remember that the best-before date refers to products that may have a microbiological risk if consumed after a certain time, which should not be the case for tea.
If preserved properly, this does not happen, as it does not develop bacteria or germs and does not rot. The only thing that happens with tea, and which leads to the need for a best-before date, is that it changes.
With passaging time and depending on the care taken when preserving it, tea will see its organoleptic characteristics, such as aroma or flavor, affected. Thus, although we will not get sick from drinking a well-preserved tea that is two years old, it is very likely that its flavor and aroma will not be the same as when it was made.
Differences in different types of teas
Generally, less oxidized teas keep worse than more oxidized ones. In this way, teas such as white and green teas withstand the passage of time less well than black teas.
Other types of teas that do not age well are flavored teas, which lose many of their nuances.Therefore, if we wish to appreciate the full character of a particular tea, especially if it is of a variety that has not been processed (little oxidized and not fermented), it is advisable to drink it within its recommended consumption date. As time goes by, the tea transforms and gains more different flavors, sometimes woody and earthy.
How to store tea properly?
In terms of conservation, there are no differences depending on the variety of tea chosen, except with slightly oxidized and steamed teas, as is the case of Japanese green teas.
There is a basic rule to keep in mind to preserve a tea well: find a cool, dry and dark place.
Then, it is necessary to analyze the variety and quantity of tea to be stored. We must keep in mind that it is not the same to preserve a white tea than a black tea, nor 20 grams than 2 kilos, nor much less tea bags than bulk tea.
Conservation of tea bags
Is it true that sunlight, kitchen (or cupboard) odors and humidity can wreak havoc on tea bags? Yes, it is true.
Usually, we believe that because they are packaged, tea bags do not require any care. Thus, we infuse them often without paying attention to time and temperature, let alone considering how we store them.
Tea bags should be stored in the manufacturer’s sealed packaging in a cool, dark place and away from other aromatic sources, such as spices.
Storage of bulk tea
Keeping bulk tea in excellent condition requires extra effort. If we have a closed package of tea that we wish to keep, the ideal is to keep it as it is; that is to say that it is recommended to avoid changing the container. Let’s think that the package prepared by the seller has the necessary characteristics to keep the tea leaves in excellent condition.
Only if the tea leaves are not well packed, we can choose to place them in a different container. Thus, it is recommended to use an airtight and opaque container made of ceramic, wood or tin. Keep in mind that airtightness is essential to prevent other odors from contaminating our tea. Once the container has been prepared, the tea should be stored in a dark, cool and humidity-free place.
Can we store tea in the refrigerator?
It is not recommended to store tea leaves in the refrigerator, except with teas that are slightly oxidized and have undergone steaming processes, such as Japanese green tea.
If we have a kilo of sencha, the ideal would be to store it in different packages of smaller size and to remove one by one from the refrigerator at the moment of consumption.
Very important: once we remove the tea from the refrigerator, we should not keep it cold again, but consume it as soon as possible.
Preserving tea properly is not as difficult as we might think at first; it just requires a little care and planning. However, we must be prepared to accept the variations in aroma and flavor of a tea when we store it for long periods of time. So the next time you drink a tea that you have had for a long time, be prepared to discover its new nuances.