How to Store Tea So It Stays Fresh

Keep your tea at its best by preventing lackluster leaves.

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Tea bag

Tea is one of the most popular drinks in the world for good reason. People have consumed tea for millennia, both as a beverage and for medicinal purposes. One could argue that, among other things, the demand for tea altered the very fate of the world and human history. It's so ever-present in peoples' lives we can often take it for granted. But if you've ever brewed an old favorite tea from your stash only to have it taste weak and disappointing, then you've suffered firsthand the consequences of poor tea storage. Read on to learn the best way to store tea, how to lengthen tea's shelf life, and how long tea lasts when it's properly stored.

What Is the Best Way to Store Tea?

Much like with coffee storage, you'll need to keep your tea away from light, moisture, heat, and air. Store tea bags in an airtight, opaque container that's in a cool, dark place such as a cabinet or pantry. Additionally, keep tea away from other items with strong aromas that may bleed in and alter the taste. Don't store tea in the refrigerator unless it's unopened and in its original package — dried tea is extremely sensitive to moisture, which can occur in the form of condensation that appears every time you remove the tea from the fridge. Tea's aroma and flavor weakens every time it's exposed to moisture.

Which Container Is Best for Storing Tea?

Look for an opaque container with a tight seal that won't let any air in, such as a tin or stainless steel canister. Many varieties of tea already come packaged in this type of container, so you may as well keep it. When you've drunk all the tea, wash out the container, dry it, and let it air out for a to remove the aroma — depending on the flavor's strength, this will range anywhere from a few hours to a few days and may even require an additional wash. Once the smell is gone, use the tin to store loose leaf tea or bagged tea that was sold in a cardboard box.

Does Tea Expire?

Tea doesn't necessarily "go bad," but its flavor will weaken over time. You can still drink it, but you'll want to brew a stronger amount to make up for the loss in taste. Loose leaf tea easily absorbs moisture and air, which means it will start losing its integrity sooner.

How Long Does Tea Last?

Bagged and loose leaf tea will last between 1 and 3 years if properly stored.

Can You Freeze Tea?

While it's not good practice to store tea in the refrigerator, it is okay to store a sealed, unopened canister of tea in the freezer. You can also freeze brewed tea. However, freezing, thawing, and reheating tea will weaken its flavor and can even turn it bitter.

Buying Tips for Fresher Tea

  • Purchase tea that's already in an airtight canister. This way, you don't have to worry about it weakening, and you can save the tin for tea you purchase in the future.
  • Buy small quantities of tea. They're more easily consumed in a short time, and you won't have to worry about a large batch deteriorating before you can finish it.


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