Stale Black Tea?


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Stale Black Tea?

Postby someguyouknow » Jul 17th, '09, 11:31

Hello!

At the beginning of the year, I purchased a couple of bulk bags of 2 black teas. Nilgiri Dunsandle and Oothu Black. From what I found out later, they are relatively generic indian black teas. But I think it stale... both are far too bitter when using the 'standard' brewing methods for blacks. Boiling water steeping for 3-5 minutes. They are undrinkable. I have gotten away with drinking some that has been cold brewed for a short amount of time (3-5 hours instead of the usual 6-8). It is usually pretty bland.

So I am wondering a few things:
1. What is the common period of time before a black tea goes bad?
I know different brands, types have different times.

2. What are some other characteristics of a stale tea?

3. Could it be that I am not brewing it right?

4. What else can I do with the tea other than toss them in a compost heap?

I contacted the company I purchased it from (Davidson's Teas) and they shipped me out a "new" 1lb bag. It seemed slightly better if I brew it for a shorter period of time (as soon as the color turns dark ~2-4 minutes). So now I have 3 lbs of possibly stale tea.
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Postby shah82 » Jul 17th, '09, 14:48

stale black tea has a kind of faded taste, sometimes with a harsh metalic overtone. Black tea isn't really susceptible to being unacceptably stale, at least much of the good stuff isn't. You just have to correct with more leaf and shorter time.
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Postby Janine » Jul 17th, '09, 15:51

I think answers to this question vary with the tea, but generally agree with shah

Today I have opened a tea that I've had stored for a year: Imperial Tea Court's Imperial Yunnan Gold. It's more luscious and full than I remember - plus it has a honey/raisin scent to the leaves after they are steeped and left in the pot
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Postby Rainy-Day » Jul 17th, '09, 19:49

Stale would not become bitter, it would become weaker-tasting and less flavourful. Just use less tea and/or less time. It's a matter of taste, too. Directions on leaf amount and time are not very important. I do 3 minutes max for black teas, 2 minutes for some of them. The question is whether these teas are good or not, and if they're not good, it doesn't really matter if it's because they're stale or if they were never good. You can buy some blacks from reputable sources, like teaspring.com and houdeasianart.com and then you'll know what a good black is like, and then you can compare.
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Re: Stale Black Tea?

Postby tea_mind » Jul 25th, '09, 02:27

You most likely don't have stale tea.
The tea you have is probably blended and not necessarily of the highgrown variety. Generally tea that is grown in lower regions (closer to sea-level that is as opposed to tea grown in higher mountainous regions) tends to be of a darker and stronger brew.

To make your tea less bitter-tasting, add less tea leaves and keep the steeping time to a minimum - just enough time to bring out the flavor in the tea.

These types of teas are an acquired taste, although they can be wonderful in making a good cup of milk tea. And if you still don't like the taste, you might be able to use this tea to make a nice batch of iced tea. Just the thing to relax with on long hot summer nights.
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Re: Stale Black Tea?

Postby Ritva » Jul 27th, '09, 05:43

You could also use low quality tea to make Masala chai. The quality of the tea is not that important in Masala chai because you use all kinds of spices that cover up bad tasting or bitter tea. During summertime you can serve Masala chai cold: just cool the chai in refridgerator, add some ice and whirl a bit in a blender. That makes chai nice and frothy.
Lots of recipes in here: http://www.veetea.com/site/articles/Masala-Chai-Recipes
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Re: Stale Black Tea?

Postby hop_goblin » Aug 11th, '09, 09:10

If memory serves me, I believe black teas can last up to 3 years with no problem. However, if it is exposed than it may certainly affect its potency.
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Re: Stale Black Tea?

Postby AlexZorach » Sep 24th, '09, 11:55

I agree with the others that black tea generally doesn't go stale that easily. If it's stored properly it seems to retain its flavor for a couple years and then it goes downhill gradually...its aroma becomes progressively weaker but it doesn't acquire unpleasant characteristics...it just produces a bland cup.

So it may be that this tea just isn't very good.

Before you give up though, try experimenting with brewing. I've had a few black teas that I swore were terrible until I realized I was using too many leaves, too hot water (yes, even some black teas you might want to try slightly under boiling), or was not letting it steep long enough (some black teas I've found are best with 5+ min., using fewer leaves) or was letting it steep too long (I've had other black teas that are delicious if brewed for 2 minutes but become almost undrinkable if brewed for more than 4).

If you experiment and it still comes out bad, you may have stumbled upon some mediocre tea--there's plenty of that out there!
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Re: Stale Black Tea?

Postby skywarrior » Sep 26th, '09, 01:11

I agree with most everything people here have said with some comments.

I've had various black teas for years and they will actually improve the older they get. Black tea doesn't really go bad, IMNSHO, it just loses a lot of flavor.

My guess is that you're using too much tea for the water, steeping it too long, not doing a flash rinse (with boiling water), not the type of tea you like, or the tea is just bad or really poor quality. I've had some pretty bitter keemun tea where I've actually had a better leaf the year before from the same brand. So, a lot depends on the crop and harvest.

:idea: Here are some thoughts to try to make the tea drinkable:

:arrow: Flash rinse the tea before steeping it. I rinse the leaves quickly with boiling water before I try to steep them.

:arrow: Either try less tea for the amount of water or reduce steeping time.

:arrow: Add a small amount of sugar. Sometimes sugar tames really skanky tea.

:arrow: Brew the first batch and toss. Try a second steep with the leaves and see how that tastes.

Good luck!
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Re: Stale Black Tea?

Postby Intuit » Sep 26th, '09, 12:18

Davidson's also sold me stale Oothu estate; I returned it and they replaced it with another tea. Their batch was old (almost 20 months), god knows when it was actually produced or how long it had sat opened.

Ootu estate is generally considered to be among the better Nilgiri producers, but the estate is very large, they produce lots of blender teas, too. I think this was stale tea, probably originating as a lackluster harvest batch. They do produce rather nice organic white and green teas, well worth trying. I avoid their black OPs, however.

Dunsdale is another Nilgiri estate whose teas I found to be rather dull and lifeless, whether from less quality leaf or staleness due to poor storage/old batches, I can't say since I couldn't verify year of production in the 2 or 3 times I've purchased/tried the tea in the past.

Specifically, these teas are to be avoided, in favor of reputable gardens with highly reliable and tasty batches, year to year:

Tiger Hill (usually OP or OP1 clonal/special clonal)
Thiashola TGFOP1 or SFTGFOP1 Organic.
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Re: Stale Black Tea?

Postby sneakers » Sep 27th, '09, 04:15

Intuit, you should have your own tea blog, or even an entire site. You know teas the way I know computers.
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Re: Stale Black Tea?

Postby judyw » Oct 20th, '09, 23:38

I have had Rooibos tea that was brought to me 2.5 years ago from South Africa and am still drinking it and it tastes fine. I know it is not a black tea, but I can only tell you about my experience with a red tea.
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Re: Stale Black Tea?

Postby Tea and coffee » Oct 21st, '09, 00:55

I was going to buy some Davidson's herbal tea on amazon and they always have some on sale of that brand.
In the end I didn't bother as there are some teas from a local place i want to try.

But if you go on amazon, a lot of people have left reviews of Davidson's teas and quite a few are not as favorable.

I actually bought a tea online from Teacuppa and when i opened it today was so disapointed.
I bought lychee black tea and it had no strong lychee smell and the leaves were are lighter black.

I also bought some lychee black tea from someone in china and that one was a darker black and have a exttremely fresh sweet lychee fruit smell and seems extremely fresh in comparison.
Teacuppa has not even returned my emails, so they suck.

Davidsons at least seems to be concerned for their customers.
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Re: Stale Black Tea?

Postby Victoria » Oct 21st, '09, 12:14

Tea and coffee wrote:I was going to buy some Davidson's herbal tea on amazon and they always have some on sale of that brand.
In the end I didn't bother as there are some teas from a local place i want to try.

But if you go on amazon, a lot of people have left reviews of Davidson's teas and quite a few are not as favorable.

I actually bought a tea online from Teacuppa and when i opened it today was so disapointed.
I bought lychee black tea and it had no strong lychee smell and the leaves were are lighter black.

I also bought some lychee black tea from someone in china and that one was a darker black and have a exttremely fresh sweet lychee fruit smell and seems extremely fresh in comparison.
Teacuppa has not even returned my emails, so they suck.

Davidsons at least seems to be concerned for their customers.


While I admit TeaCuppa's customer service has gone down dramatically in the last two years, still you should taste the tea before you form such a harsh opinion. Lighter leaves doesn't mean bad, and not as strong of scent, may only mean they use natural fruit and no fake additives.
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Re: Stale Black Tea?

Postby Tea and coffee » Oct 24th, '09, 14:32

Victoria wrote:
Tea and coffee wrote:I was going to buy some Davidson's herbal tea on amazon and they always have some on sale of that brand.
In the end I didn't bother as there are some teas from a local place i want to try.

But if you go on amazon, a lot of people have left reviews of Davidson's teas and quite a few are not as favorable.

I actually bought a tea online from Teacuppa and when i opened it today was so disapointed.
I bought lychee black tea and it had no strong lychee smell and the leaves were are lighter black.

I also bought some lychee black tea from someone in china and that one was a darker black and have a exttremely fresh sweet lychee fruit smell and seems extremely fresh in comparison.
Teacuppa has not even returned my emails, so they suck.

Davidsons at least seems to be concerned for their customers.


While I admit TeaCuppa's customer service has gone down dramatically in the last two years, still you should taste the tea before you form such a harsh opinion. Lighter leaves doesn't mean bad, and not as strong of scent, may only mean they use natural fruit and no fake additives.


I have tasted both and have looked at both side by side!
I know the other lychee tea I have it is just dried with the lychee peels-no artificial flavor.
The tea cuppa one says it is scented w lychee peels also.

I know this tea is made in China and the envelope I received from teacuppa was with a Malaysian adress-it is not too obvious from their site which country they are in exactly.

I know the larger bag of lychee tea i bought I got from a seller in China and it is not something that seller carries,but was a request I made and was bought by the seller after I ordered it, so surely not sitting around as long...
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