- Age...Much like food, tea can lose its freshness over time, even without the other factors.
- Light...Keep your tea stored out of direct sunlight and artificial light. The UV light can break down the tea, and florescent lights can also have a negative effect.
- Temperature...I have encountered a number of places that recommend storing tea in the refrigerator; however, this only really works with greens and very lightly oxidized teas, and, even then, I have found that this changes the flavor of the tea.
- Air...Your food does not benefit from extended storage and exposure to oxygen, so why should your tea? Additionally, aromas in the air can affect the smell and taste of your tea.
- Age...Only buy an amount of tea that you will consume within a few months. This will assure optimum freshness. Sometimes, the freshest-by date on a tin of tea will only be valid so long as you do not break the vacuum seal. (The exception to this age rule is pu'erh, the storage of which will not be addressed in this post.)
- Light...Use opaque containers to store your tea. Alternately (or additionally), store your tea in cupboards, drawers, etc. which would allow for the use of transparent containers, if such is your desire.
- Temperature...In the refrigerator or freezer is not the best place for your tea (in my opinion). Near a stove/oven or next to a dishwasher is not ideal, either. I keep my tea in cupboards away from this large appliances.
- Air...Use air-tight containers for the storage of your tea. (Again, this does not entirely apply to pu'erh storage.) Containers (such as bags) inside larger containers (such as Tupperware)? Sure! So that your tea does not pick up the aromas of food or other teas, I do not recommend storing tea near food, nor do I recommend storing very aromatic teas in bags with other tea. I have had a weakly aromatic tea pick up the smell of a much more strongly-scented tea by both teas being stored in Ziploc bags next to each other for a period of time. My final word on this is to avoid exposing your tea to air, as much as possible. The following is an example from my personal tea collection:
Hopefully, this post has provided you with useful tips for keeping your tea tasting and smelling better for a longer period of time! Feel free to post comments or questions, below. Happy tea drinking!