Tea is sensitive to air, light, aromas, moisture, and heat; its quality diminishes if it is subjected to any of these conditions over an extended period of time. As a result, it is very important to properly store your tea so that the quality and desired characteristics are preserved. If stored properly, most teas will remain fresh for at least one year. Keep these tips in mind when storing your tea:

  • Store tea at room temperature, away from direct sunlight and heat sources – in a cabinet, drawer, or closet is ideal.
  • Store tea in an opaque, airtight package – size-appropriate tins and zip-top pouches are ideal. Make sure the tins are not too large for the amount of tea being stored; too much air in the tin will affect the freshness of the tea. When storing tea in a zip-top pouch, push out as much air as possible before sealing it. It is not advisable to store your tea in clear glass or other see-through packaging, unless the packaging has a UV coating or will be stored in the dark.
  • Store tea away from any products that have strong aromas. If your tea is not stored in an airtight package, then it may pick up these other aromas. This also includes storing tea near other flavored or scented teas.
  • Do not store your tea in the refrigerator because of the moisture and aromas that accumulate in this environment. If the packaging of your tea recommends storing the tea in the refrigerator (usually only Japanese teas recommend this), wrap your tea well in several layers of heavy duty plastic (freezer bags work well).
  • Be sure that any utensils used to scoop your tea are completely dry. Any moisture transferred into the package can damage tea.
  • Ideally, buy tea in quantities that can be consumed within a few months of opening. If stored properly, many teas will retain their quality and characteristics for a year (flavored teas, green teas, white teas, tisanes) and up to two years or more (black teas, oolongs, Pu'er).

Note: When buying tea, make sure to buy from retailers who properly store the tea they sell. It is popular for retailers to store their tea in glass jars or large storage tins in which they allow you to see and smell the tea. It is not recommended that you buy tea that has been stored in this manner, since it affects the quality of the tea. After three months of exposure to light, the antioxidants, essential oils, and other healthful compounds in tea breaks down, creating an infusion that is unpalatable and lacking the beneficial effects for which you may be drinking it.