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How to Store and Package Tea to Keep it Fresh

Tea Freshness, Storage and Packaging

As tea ages it loses its intensity

Fresh tea is best. As tea ages it loses its intensity. The flavors go from ethereal and complex to flat and one dimensional. Much of this is due to oxidation and the fact that tea absorbs odors so easily. The exception to this rule of course are Pu-erh teas, which because of a unique fermentation process actually develop with age, rather than deteriorate.

Tea must be stored correctly to maintain freshness. Excessive heat, permeating odors, moisture or exposure can forever alter the character of your tea. Tea must be stored in a dark, odor-free and moisture-free environment. An airtight container is necessary to maintain quality. Do not store tea above a stove. Odors and heat are more likely here than in other parts of a kitchen. Room temperature is fine for most tea. Green tea can stored long-term in a refrigerator, provided there is no moisture in the storage container. If you store tea in a tin canister, seal it in a zip-lock bag first. Most tins are not airtight, they have folded seals, not soldered. We strongly suggest using an airtight ceramic container with an odor-free silicone seal and a metal clamp. Check out Tea Accessories in several sizes.

We encourage the use of airtight porcelain containers for long-term (3+ months) tea storage. The ones we recommend have odorless silicone seals, unlike many of the cheaper alternatives available. There are four sizes for your convenience. The container should be a size appropriate to the amount of tea to be stored. Do not use a huge container for an ounce or two of a particular tea. Finally, there is no substitute for buying fresh teas in reasonable amounts from a reputable tea merchant. We have just added a round, small canister, perfect for smaller amounts of great tea.

General timelines for tea, assuming they are properly stored as discussed above are as follows:

White/Green/Green Oolong - 1 Year

Dark Oolong/Black 1 Year - 18 Months

You may have noticed the simple packaging In Pursuit of Tea, Inc. uses for their tea. These simple reusable, re-sealable plastic bags prevent all light from entering. Though they may not be as attractive as many of the canisters or boxes with which tea is sold, our bags are optimum for short-term (generally 2-4 months) storage. Used properly, they will provide protection from odors, oxidation, and moisture. Few fancy tin containers or decorative boxes, by themselves, can provide an airtight seal. Usually, they will not protect teas for more than one month. Once you have emptied our re-sealable bag, please consider washing it out and using it for storage of other dry goods or food items.

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(Updated: 06/13/12 SG)


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