Storing the tea leaves – How to store teaKapás Dóra
Storing tea can be easy, but you need to pay attention to a few details and be careful.
Make sure you store it in an airtight container or bag (if you buy tea at us you get them in such bags) in a dark, cool and dry place.
This place should be free of any odor. If you follow these, you will probably drink fine tea. Proper storage of tea is essential.
If you want to go deeper into this, read on!
When we talk about “tea ruining” we mean oxidation and moisture.
The tea leaves begin to oxidize as soon as they are removed from the tea plant. The way it is processed determines how long you allow this process to take place and whether it is left at all. The differences between the different types of tea are determined by the level of oxidation. Whether it is less or completely oxidized tea, over time the tea can be re-oxidized and damaged in taste and aroma. This is a heightened danger for most green and yellow teas, with the intense feeling that the tea has lost much of its freshness after 1 year.
Highly oxidized teas are not so exposed to further oxidation.
What about maturing tea? This will require the proper storage means and conditions and clarify what is meant by “maturation”. The taste of tea changes over time, of course here, too, due to oxidation. The Tokaji Aszú left in the cellar also changes with the time and the air through the cork plug (but we’ll ask a wine expert about this). The “older”, old-fashioned taste is thus caused by oxidation and time. After that, we define two types of longer storage options for tea.
Hermetically sealed storage
When tea is stored in an airtight container where environmental oxygen can only slowly infiltrate and oxidize the leaves over time. It is common for oolong teas to be stored under vacuum and frozen. Occasionally, more valuable teas can be stored in smaller or larger clay pots for many years, sealed with wax. (Note: Our team of tea farmers in the Hill of the Mountains did so with their entered contests, which they could not sell later (due to the non-podium position). They are experimenting with what they will become over the years.)
Non-hermetically sealed storage
Pu-er and other post-matured teas are typically not completely sealed off in the air, but controlled at a certain level to take advantage of oxidation and microbial-controlled fermentation. This is how the taste changes, the tea matures. Lower temperatures are used in the preparation of raw puer base material, intentionally to keep the oxidative enzymes inside the leaves and to clearly allow subsequent oxidation.
So, if we are not actively committed to the maturation of our teas, we just want to keep them fresh, what should we do?
There are six “storage laws” that will help us do this:
Keep tea away from oxygen.
The tea leaf over time oxidises further when in contact with oxygen. Even when stored in an airtight container, ambient air remains between the tea leaves and under the lid of the container (airtight does not mean that it is airtight). In some cases, tea makers use nitrogen-flooding techniques or vacuum pack their teas to prevent contact with additional oxygen during storage. Often, small “oxygen uptake” bags are included in the package. These little bags contain iron and salt. When placed in an airtight container, the remaining oxygen oxidizes the iron. Once the iron in the pouch is oxidized, the small package is no longer usable, so they are only for long storage and not for everyday opening and closing.
Keep tea away from heat.
Heat, heat accelerates oxidation (yes, heat is used to prevent oxidation when brewing tea, but that’s another story). Some finer green, yellow, and oolong teas are best stored in the freezer or refrigerator where oxidation processes are slowed down considerably. Here, however, we must pay attention to the condensation of moisture on the leaves! It is advisable to take a smaller amount of the weekly portion of tea from the larger pack and open it daily. (It is good to store large quantities of tea, not in small bags. See later) Before putting the tea in the freezer, squeeze the air out as it condenses, which will not do well for dry tea leaves. The most important thing to remember about cold-stored teas is that when you remove the package from the fridge or freezer, do not open it until it reaches room temperature. You should remove the refrigerated teas you want to consume the next day from the refrigerator.
Keep tea away from light
The damage caused by light gives the tea a metallic taste, which is neither good nor delicious. It is left to those skilled in the art to observe and describe the exact chemical processes.
Keep tea away from strong odors
The tea leaf beautifully absorbs all the scents of its surroundings. This is extremely beneficial in the preparation of flavored teas. In the case of jasmine tea, all the aromas of jasmine flowers are absorbed and well preserved. The tea container must also be odorless and our kitchen cabinet is also not ideal for Asian spices. Certain wooden storage boxes, rubber seals that help with air tightness, can also hurt our tea because of its strong scent and give it a bad taste.
Keep tea away from moisture
It’s no secret that the taste of tea leaves really comes out when it gets wet. But we don’t want this taste to dissolve already during storage, right? Therefore, keeping away from moisture and moisture is very important. You can give it a try: leave a portion of tea out for a whole day, make it the next day. It will have a completely different taste. It absorbs moisture in the air nicely, which triggers the dissolution process. All you need is an airtight container to prevent moisture.
Keep as much tea as possible
This point is essentially a combination of the first and fourth points, but it is worth mentioning separately. In an almost empty, airtight container, a tiny bit of tea deteriorates much faster than the same container is full. To keep the tea fresh, fill the container as much as possible, arrange the leaves by shaking, tapping and then adding more. Oxygen is harder to locate between tight-fitting leaves, so tea is less likely to absorb the scent of its surroundings.
In short, a large amount of tea in one place is less degraded than a small pile of tea.
This concept is extremely important when storing or maturing puer tea. Do not refrigerate or freeze. Keep them in a separate dark wardrobe, ventilate them often, take a look at them, rearrange them! Here too, it is appropriate to completely fill the shelf / cupboard with the tea you want to ripen and store.
Two points to end:
Teas that are less oxidized (green, yellow and white) deteriorate faster than their more heavily oxidized counterparts (oolong and red tea)
Broken, tiny leaf teas with a larger surface contact with air lose their quality faster.
With little care and proper storage of tea, we can enjoy our favorite flavors for a long time.
Now look at your teas, make sure you store them well!
This post is also available in: Magyar