By Kathy McCarthy
While it would be ideal if you could wrap tea up, put it on the shelf and have it ready for you whenever you wanted it, unfortunately it is not quite that simple. While tea can last a good, long time if you store it properly, it does not last forever.
White tea has the shortest shelf life. It will only survive in pristine condition about a month. Green tea will hold its freshness for about three months, and black tea can survive untainted for about a year. The caveat here is that these survival rates only apply if the tea is “stored properly” in ideal conditions.
The ideal condition for storing tea is in a container in a cool, dry, dark place. Tea begins to lose its flavor when it is exposed to air, moisture, odor, light or heat. So when you decide to store your favorite tea in a Tupperware container in your cupboard, you are on the right track, but plastic absorbs smells and lets odors in as well. So plastic containers or zip lock bags and glass are not good storage solutions.
The best type of storage container for tealeaves is an airtight tin. To be truly airtight a tin with a double lid works best. Then you want to keep the tin in a cool, dry place.
You never want to store tea in the refrigerator, because condensation, even in the slightest amounts, will begin to mold the tealeaves. And since tea really absorbs any odor that it is around, you want to store it away from other fragrant foods like coffee and spices as well. So remember that your container needs to be not just waterproof but odor proof as well. That means that your cool, dry cupboard may indeed be the best place to store your tea in an airtight, odor proof and waterproof container.