The subject of tea storage is as old as the legend of tea. While it was quite simple back in the day – use whatever you have, we are faced with a challenge of too much choice today. You probably know that storing tea in a tea bag, wrapped in paper and boxed in cardboard is quite far from best tea storage technique that tea masters used throughout the years. We will touch upon all the best loose tea storage solutions in order for you to make an educated decision and store your teas or herbs properly.
Tradition Is Sacred
As you can imagine, only the best of practices have a chance of becoming traditional. Traditionally, dark clay as well as stone jars were cornerstones of tea mastery and are still considered the best tea storage vessels. Dark or red clay is moderately porous and doesn’t suffocate the tea. Clay jar keeps the tea in best of an environment for long distance transportation, it allows for tea to keep its moisture levels and creates perfect conditions for all essential oils and fragrance to stay. Tea masters have found a way to store each tea, creating different jars for each kind of tea. So if you are spending the top dollar on cured clay jars, make sure to dedicate each jar to the category of tea that’s going to be stored in it.
Pu Er tea is one of a kind. It is highly fermented, and therefore it’s highly acidic. In order for this tea to be compete, it is sealed in thick clay jars and buried in the ground. Soil creates an environment in which tea releases it’s acids, yet leaving the deep, rich taste of smoky tea. Without this storage underground, the fermentation process is considered incomplete and tea has higher acidic content. With years the taste of tea in the jar becomes full and rich, some teas are meant to spend 50 years or more underground, dug up to become some of the most expensive on the tea market in the world.
Best Of Modern Jars
Glass is the most readily available container to store tea. But before you stuff your tea into any jar you find, please make sure that UV rays don’t get to your stash. To your surprise, the tea you once bought and placed in a jar for a special occasion may lose its taste texture and other properties if you let the sun continue fermenting the tea. We recommend buying and using amber glass and that is the best tea storage you will find in today’s consumer market. Even amber glass needs to be out of sunlight as much as possible.
Lids are another element of glass jar. Glass lids are very common and they usually come with a rubber or silicone gasket to keep the container air tight. Metal lids are great, as long as they are sealed with proper finishing product. Cork and wood lids are often used, we recommend a lid that has been sealed and does not have breathing properties, cork is a less desirable lid, because it has a smell of its own and it’s porous, therefore it may alter the properties of tea stored in a glass jar.
Flexible Storage Solutions
If you are on the road, you may choose not to take a two pound glass tea jar with you, and even the most experienced tea master won’t blame you. Fortunately for those looking to ship and transport tea, there are metalized foil pouches that are food grade rated. You are able to seal them with a heat element tool for long term storage or you can purchase resealable pouches with a zip seal. Make sure that the pouches you use are food grade, as they are really made to be completely free of smell, residues or any other elements that may contaminate the tea.
When we look at teas we buy today, most of them are stored in paper and cardboard. That is a really wasteful way of storing a high quality loose leaf tea, or any tea for that matter. If you prefer paper for its price or recycling qualities, then the best option is to get craft paper pouches with food grade lining on the inside. That is the only paper that you can rely upon for short term preservation of your tea. That way, the bag will contain the smell/aroma of the tea leaf, it will also be a balancing barrier between sun, water and other elements that can alter the tea’s tasting characteristics, it can also cause loss of mineral and vitamin content. Keep in mind that paper bags will not stop UV rays, nor water.
Wooden containers are not the best for tea storage. If they are naturally raw, the material is porous and it will extract the moisture out of the tea, fragrance will be suckered out into the material. There are sealed wood containers, but chances are that the chemicals used for sealing are toxic. There are water based sealants that do not release fumes. When you receive a new wooden container and look for strong smell. When you open it and it smells – that’s usually a bad sign, steer clear of those containers.
Metal Or Tin Containers
Exactly same principles are used when picking a medal container. A tea master will never let the tea touch metal, unless the brewing is already underway. So usually tea is wrapped in metalized foil and then stored within a tin container.
Conclusive Storage Techniques
We have to understand key points to storing tea. Stable temperature, no direct sunlight, minimum moisture exposure are ways a must. If we break those basic rules our tea will continue oxidation in an uncontrolled manner and we will never have same taste. If you are traveling, then choose lined paper, if sending overseas – use metalized foil pouches, if you are buying a gift – get a clay jar and it will be used long after the tea has been brewed.