- Heat- I love heat. Especially in December. Heat is great on a cold night. Heat is great to cook with. Heat is awesome for making water hot. Heat is not recommended for teas when being stored! It will degrade the tea leaves and quickly shorten their tasty little lives. Therefore, a few rules to live by: do not store tea next to the microwave, on top of a refrigerator, in a cabinet above the stove, next to the oven, or near a furnace/radiator. Keep tea out of direct sunlight. A kitchen can be a toasty place so you might want to consider tea storage in any number of other rooms (dining room, office, etc.) to avoid heat exposure.
- Light - Light, like heat, can break down the leaves and components of a tea. My recommendation is that tea be stored in an air-tight container that does not permit light. Metal, air tight containers are preferable. If tea comes in a clear container or is being stored in a clear container, it is best if the container is stored in a cool, dark cabinet.
- Air and Odors - As mentioned above, I initially stored my teas in my spice cabinet. Unfortunately, my spices and my teas co-mingled and made their own little creations. That's what I get for storing them all in a dark cabinet without supervision! I ended up with Oregano and Garlic flavored Earl Grey and Japanese Cherry. Similarly, storing teas next to one another can cause the same problem. A very strong cinnamon or orange flavored tea next to a delicate, orthodox white tea can cause the white tea to absorb those strong flavors an aromas. Again, I go back to the air-tight storage idea. In addition, storing the teas away from other strong odors (meat, fish, garlic, trash cans, refrigerators, etc.) will keep the tea leaves odor absorption to a minimum.
- Humidity/Moisture - Q: Why can't you store tea in the frig? I store nail polish and batteries there...why not tea? A: Moisture and Odors (see note above regarding Odor). Proceed to the science lab with me kids! Tea leaves are best stored dry. Refrigerators are full of moisture. Something dry will want to absorb moisture. Tea leaves with a bit of moisture will begin to breakdown and become an excellent source for mold. I've tried lots of teas, but a moldy one is not something I'm interested in.
Extending the Life of your Tea! By: Naomi Rosen Refrigerator? Cabinet? Drawer? Countertop? Maybe, if you are like me and have a few too many, you stash them in all of these places! I will post something later about a Tea Anonymous Club I am starting...but for now you might as well ensure that your tea is as tasty as can be! At least, until you admit you've got a habit! When I first started drinking loose leaf, I was told that putting my tea in the refrigerator would help keep my tea fresh longer. You know...like batteries! So, I kept some of the tea in the refrigerator. Then I read an article about not refrigerating my tea, and I put it in a cabinet next to my spices. That's right, Earl Grey right next to my Garlic Powder. OK class, can anyone tell me what my tea might have tasted like the next time I brewed a cup? That's right...Gilroy, CA (Garlic Capital of the World)! In an effort to keep any of you from having to perform your own version of the Boston Tea Party, I have put together a quick checklist to ensure that your tea stays fresh and tastes great with every brew.