A Few Thoughts on Tea Storage

Ceramic Tea Canister (ETS Image)
Ceramic Tea Canister (ETS Image)

Allow me to brief you on the fundamentals of tea storage. As an added bonus, I am going to attempt to do so in just one sentence. Store your tea in a cool, dry place in an airtight container that’s not exposed to light. That’s it. Actually you could say a little more about tea storage and various contributors to this site have done exactly that. So go and read their thoughts here.

So what’s left to say on the topic of tea storage? Is that all there is? I’d venture to say no, given that there is actually quite a lot of research of the various aspects of what happens to tea in storage. There’s more research than I could cover in a brief article, such as this one. But here’s a look at a few of the many studies I ran across:

One of the earliest ones I looked at dated back to 1978 and used a tea taster to assess black tea stored under various conditions. The conclusion: “High moisture content had a much greater deleterious effect than high temperature when assessed by the tea taster’s sensory criteria but the more important of the chemical constituents determined in this work appeared to be at least as sensitive to high temperature as to high moisture content.”

Many of these studies were carried out by Chinese researchers. Not surprising, given that China is the birthplace of tea production and is still the world’s largest tea producer. Researchers at the Tea Research Institute there and at various universities have done a number of studies on the effects of storage on green tea over the years. See a few of them here, here and here.

Of course, the Chinese don’t exactly have a lock on studying green tea and storage. Here’s a Korean study that looked at the Effects of Heat Processing and Storage on Flavanols and Sensory Qualities of Green Tea Beverage. Here’s a more recent study on green tea, which seems to counteract the others somewhat. It concluded, “that green tea will change minimally during the first year of storage and will change slightly more during the second of 2 years of storage.”

From a more offbeat corner of the archives, comes this study that used an electronic nose to “detect the aroma of green tea after different storage times.” Ain’t progress wonderful?

See more of William I. Lengeman’s articles here.

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