What is the shelf life of tea?

August 09, 2012

Tea does not really spoil or expire but can lose its original taste and begin to taste stale. On the other hand, many teas are aged like wine for a unique flavor. Of course, if stored somewhere humid, there is the chance that it could have turned moldy.

Major factors affecting the shelf life of tea: humidity, exposure to light

A good way to extend your tea’s shelf life is to store it in an airtight container in a cool dry place. If you have delicate tea such as shincha (first flush) that you don’t plan to use for a long time (say you purchase a year’s worth of tea for some reason), you can keep it in the freezer wrapped in several layers of ziplock bags. When removing from the freezer, switch it to the refrigerator to prevent condensation due to the quick change in temperature.

For tea that you plan to use on a daily basis, there is no need to store it in refrigeration, but in that case, the more delicate loose leaf green teas will start to degrade in quality in a short time (over 1-3 months). Refrigerating can slow this down, but be aware that the food in your refrigerator can seep into the tea leaves and ruin them that way as well.

For some yummy Japanese tea from farms try ObubuTea.com, who sell their tea unrefined so you get what the farmer gets to drink, and NaturaliTea.com who are dedicated to organic farming having pioneered organic farming techniques for the last 4 decades.

This article was written with help from Adam J.

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