There are many factors to be considered when talking about loose leaf tea preservation. It is a common misconception that keeping loose leaf tea fresh long-term is simply about placing it in an airtight container and forgetting about it. The truth is, loose leaf tea is made up of oils, flavour molecules and aromas that all react uniquely in different environments. Therefore, when planning to store your loose leaf tea for the long term, it’s crucial to protect these characteristics of loose leaf tea by storing them in an accommodating environment.
Here are the factors that diminish the quality of loose leaf tea and some tips to prevent them.
Air is, without a doubt, one of the biggest nemeses of loose leaf tea. Even a tiny bit of air exposure can do severe damage to the freshness and longevity of loose leaf tea. Exposure to air spoils the flavour of the tea due to oxidation. Store the loose leaf tea in an airtight container to significantly reduce the contact your loose leaf tea has with air.
Moisture is extremely harmful to the longevity of loose leaf tea. Any exposure to moisture will not only damage the flavour of the loose leaf tea, but dampness of the tea leaves could also result in the formation of mould. The way to combat this is to store the loose leaf tea in an environment that is dry and far away from moisture.
Light is another harmful element that could damage loose leaf tea. Extended exposure to light can start a chemical reaction that changes the natural flavour of loose leaf tea to a thoroughly unpleasant metallic taste. Avoid this by cutting off light supply and storing the loose leaf tea in a dark environment or in an opaque container.
When trying to prolong the freshness of loose leaf tea, it is crucial to store the tea leaves in a cool environment. The reason for this is pretty simple - high temperatures significantly speed up the oxidation process, which is counterproductive to keeping loose leaf tea fresh for an extended period. Try storing your loose leaf tea in an airtight container in the freezer.
This might not be the first thing that comes to mind, but external odors can also have a negative impact on the freshness of loose leaf tea. Since tea leaves are porous, they absorb the odors around them which ultimately affects the end taste of the tea. By storing the loose leaf tea in separate storage away from spices and other strong smells, you can significantly prolong the freshness of loose leaf tea.
Time is the enemy of all biodegradable products, and loose leaf tea is no exception. If properly stored, a loose leaf can easily last one to two years. Even so, slow but constant degradation will take place over the course of your loose leaf tea’s life. There is no actual defence against time; all you can do is follow the suggestions made in the previous points and store your loose leaf tea to the best of your abilities.
Retaining the freshness of loose leaf tea doesn’t have to be a complicated affair. Follow these helpful tips, and you can keep your tea fresh longer, and without too much effort!