The Ultimate Tea Storage Thread: What, Where, When & Why


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The Ultimate Tea Storage Thread: What, Where, When & Why

Postby Spittingoutteet... » Apr 28th, '10, 13:44

Ok, I know there are a few threads on tea storage, but they're usually about specific teas or storage methods. This thread is to cover everything, from what you store your teas in, to where you keep them, to how long you keep them and more.

I'm mainly posting this because I'm unhappy with the results of my current storage situation. I have mainly been storing my teas in small 50g aluminum spice tins that have a clear plastic window on top. In order to keep light off of the teas, I place all of the tins (currently 16) in a small cardboard box. The box is stored in my kitchen on a countertop near the stove.

I've noticed recently that the teas in the tins have lost quite a bit of their dry aroma and some flavor when brewed. Also, the dry aroma of the lighter teas (greens and unroasted oolongs) seem to be taking on the scents of some of the stronger high-roast oolongs. The teas that are stored in foil ziploc bags seems to keep their scents and flavors much better.

First off, I plan to move my teas out of my kitchen (I worry about the effect that the proximity to the stove is having, in regards to both temperature and humidity spikes). I also plan to stop storing teas together in a single box, which means I have to get rid of the clear-top tins.

Here's the quandary I'm in: do I switch over to small, all-aluminum, airproof tins or foil ziplock bags? It would be cheaper to do the bags, but more of a spacesaver for the tins. These benefits kind of equal each other out for me, so I'm hoping to get some opinions from folks on how they are storing their teas and if they have found one method better than the other from a long-term quality standpoint. Thanks in advance!
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Re: The Ultimate Tea Storage Thread: What, Where, When & Why

Postby iannon » Apr 28th, '10, 22:37

for me..personally anyway.. I use larger tins both double lidded or single lidded and put the foil zip bags with the tea inside them.
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Re: The Ultimate Tea Storage Thread: What, Where, When & Why

Postby chittychat » Apr 29th, '10, 22:23

I store my teas as well in large glass jars or in double lid tins or in Chinese porcelain jars. The glas jars I keep in a dark place. Pu-erh are stored open in a cabinet.
Some of the greener oolongs can loose their flavour altogether after some months of storage. Those good ones I store in the ref where they keep well for a long time. I had one green tea, Monkey Pick, go moldy in our high humidity climat. Looks like this tea is hygrophile. The next batch I stored in the ref and had no more problems. I even had a yixing tea pot become moldy.
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Re: The Ultimate Tea Storage Thread: What, Where, When & Why

Postby IPT » Apr 29th, '10, 23:45

How I store my teas at home is in the metallic bags that are used for vacuum sealing them. I fold them down on the top and then use a large clip to seal it. I then store them in my freezer. My freezer is only for tea, so I don't have to worry about smells. I would recommend that you use metal tea tins to store your teas in the fridge, if you don't have a dedicated tea fridge. For added protection against smells, you can run a piece of electrical tape around the tin along the seam between the lid and the cannister and that will keep them sealed from any smells that may be in your fridge. When you want to open them, I recommend that you open them and take out the tea you wish to brew and immediately put the tin back in the fridge. That will keep any condensation that may occur down to a minimum. Then let the tea warm to room temperature before brewing.
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Re: The Ultimate Tea Storage Thread: What, Where, When & Why

Postby beachape » Apr 30th, '10, 00:58

Hmm. I've been popping my Japanese green teas in the fridge in their un-opened bags. After I open them I don't put them back because I'm afraid they will get condensation and absorb smells (no dedicated fridge here).

I'm not sure about storing chinese greens. I've never put them in the fridge because I don't trust the bags that they usually come in when you buy from china (those thin silvery plastic bags inside some sort of paper/tin container). They aren't as thick as the standard Japanese bags, so I'm afraid that smells might leak in. Thought about double bagging in a ziploc...but not sure if its worth the effort/risk.

Thoughts?
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Re: The Ultimate Tea Storage Thread: What, Where, When & Why

Postby IPT » Apr 30th, '10, 02:08

double bagging them should work, although I've never tried it. Another thing I do is use unused paint cans. You can get them at paint shops. You could use a quart can. They seal very well and are very strong. There are also a lot of cannisters for storing coffee which would work well too.
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Re: The Ultimate Tea Storage Thread: What, Where, When & Why

Postby Smells_Familiar » Apr 30th, '10, 13:37

Once opened, I store all of my teas, except puerh, in small half pint mason jars. I throw a small silica desiccant packet in the jar before I put the tea in, then vacuum seal the jar with a cheap $20 vacuum sealing device that can be used on any glass jar with a metal lid. It's cheap, it's got like a 15 year warranty, and it works perfectly. I also wrapped the jars with cut up grocery bags to keep out light. Chip once pointed out that tin foil would be faster to wrap the jars in, and he's right.

I don't vacuum wuyi teas nor gyokuro (unless it's going downhill). I put the greens in the refrigerator.

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Re: The Ultimate Tea Storage Thread: What, Where, When & Why

Postby David Duckler » May 4th, '10, 18:22

beachape wrote:Hmm. I've been popping my Japanese green teas in the fridge in their un-opened bags. After I open them I don't put them back because I'm afraid they will get condensation and absorb smells (no dedicated fridge here).

I'm not sure about storing chinese greens. I've never put them in the fridge because I don't trust the bags that they usually come in when you buy from china (those thin silvery plastic bags inside some sort of paper/tin container). They aren't as thick as the standard Japanese bags, so I'm afraid that smells might leak in. Thought about double bagging in a ziploc...but not sure if its worth the effort/risk.

Thoughts?


In regards to Chinese teas, all of my tea friends and vendors in China (in fact, every legitimate tea market, too) store their green teas and their non-Wuyishan oolongs (aka: Tieguanyin, Dong Ding/Tung Ting, fresh/unprocessed tieguanyin, etc) in the freezer. The teas are usually kept double bagged and tightly closed with twisting and rubber bands until they are individually vacuum-sealed for the customer.
I've been keeping my teas in the freezer for the past two years, and the teas have kept extremely well. The suggestion of double bagging (or even triple!) is a good one, and would definitely keep smells out. It's definitely worth the effort/risk if you want your greens to taste just as good in a year as they did when they were picked in the Spring.

Black (red), puer, wuyishan (wuyiyen/rock) oolongs, aged/roasted tieguanyin, and white teas, however, are never kept in the freezer or refrigerator. Instead, they're kept sealed in their packages, clipped closed with chip-clips/etc, or (in the case of puer not in brick form) in decorative jars with a cloth between the lid to keep out smells while allowing limited airflow.

Even though freezing teas is absolutely the standard operating practice in China, I have never seen this done by tea vendors in the United States. Perhaps there are a few out there who do, and I have missed them? Why wouldn't vendors want to protect the huge investment they put into their product? Any insights would be greatly helpful, as this issue has always puzzled me.
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Re: The Ultimate Tea Storage Thread: What, Where, When & Why

Postby beachape » May 4th, '10, 20:13

Interesting.

I would really think that the freezer would dry out the tea. On teachat I've heard people...mainly chip, talk about a tea fridge, but not freezing. If you've had success I might give it a whirl. Do you just use ziploc brand freezer bags? Or any special bag? I've ordered some chinese green tea in 250g. bags which I would like to separate into smaller quantities to store. I've just had such bad experience with regular food getting stale in the freezer (freezer burn and freezer flavor) that maybe I'm not doing it right.

As for american vendors, I imagine that most vendors bet that their customers can't tell the difference between tea that is well stored and tea that is stored in giant canisters that are opened every day. Also leads to old tea being sold as well. Some vendors are better than others.
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Re: The Ultimate Tea Storage Thread: What, Where, When & Why

Postby Chip » May 4th, '10, 20:21

Yeah, I have heard pretty many times about the Chinese freezing their tea.

I am content with the TeaFridge for now! :mrgreen:
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Re: The Ultimate Tea Storage Thread: What, Where, When & Why

Postby David Duckler » May 4th, '10, 20:32

beachape wrote:Interesting.

I would really think that the freezer would dry out the tea. On teachat I've heard people...mainly chip, talk about a tea fridge, but not freezing. If you've had success I might give it a whirl. Do you just use ziploc brand freezer bags? Or any special bag? I've ordered some chinese green tea in 250g. bags which I would like to separate into smaller quantities to store. I've just had such bad experience with regular food getting stale in the freezer (freezer burn and freezer flavor) that maybe I'm not doing it right.

As for american vendors, I imagine that most vendors bet that their customers can't tell the difference between tea that is well stored and tea that is stored in giant canisters that are opened every day. Also leads to old tea being sold as well. Some vendors are better than others.


A ziploc bag would probably work fine, but I would definitely suggest 1) keeping them far from any spillable meat juices, etc, and 2) removing as much air as possible from the bags. The ideal would probably be to re-vacuum-seal the bags (using one of those mini-vacuum sealers they sell at BedBathN'Beyond and such), or keep in the original bag tightly closed without a lot of air pockets.

If you're unsure, you could try an experiment. Take a small sample of your tea and freeze it for a week or two (however long your curiosity can stand). After that time, take it out and see if it has dried out or gotten burned.


Chip wrote:I am content with the TeaFridge for now! :mrgreen:


If only we all had the space for a dedicated tea fridge!
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Re: The Ultimate Tea Storage Thread: What, Where, When & Why

Postby beachape » May 4th, '10, 21:03

Anybody use one of those food-saver vacuum machines? Vacuum and seal but cost like 100 bucks and I bet the bags are expensive.
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Re: The Ultimate Tea Storage Thread: What, Where, When & Why

Postby David Duckler » May 4th, '10, 21:17

beachape wrote:Anybody use one of those food-saver machines for bags? Seems kinda expensive though.


Indeed, they are expensive; I just checked Amazon quickly and found that name-brand FoodSaver systems can cost anywhere between $60 and $800, with the median/standard at $120-40. This is no spare change, but perhaps it's not as expensive as another fridge or replacing all of your teas. I don't have one... yet. They would absolutely prevent drying out/freezer burn, but they aren't necessary, especially if we're talking about a small personal supply. Tightly closed bags with little air, and then another bag around them if you're unsure.

For reference, I've got my teas (in their original packaging) inside of a big Macy's plastic bag in my freezer. The bag is twisted closed at the top, but that's about it. In China, I started out keeping my green teas in their original bags, inside of a medium sized tupperware placed in the (tiny!!!!) freezer. However, over the space of 6 months, they quickly took over the entire bottom shelf, so the teas were just kept in their original packaging, closed with chip-clips. Even though that was the coldest little freezer I've ever encountered, none dried out or got burned. They've survived all the way back to Minneapolis, and the greens from last spring still taste great, as do the spring and autumn oolongs.
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Re: The Ultimate Tea Storage Thread: What, Where, When & Why

Postby Spittingoutteet... » May 5th, '10, 10:53

These posts really surprise me as everywhere else that I've read says that refrigerating or freezing teas is the worst thing you can possibly do to them.

http://www.uptontea.com/shopcart/inform ... toring.asp
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Re: The Ultimate Tea Storage Thread: What, Where, When & Why

Postby Chip » May 5th, '10, 11:04

:lol: I often tell people that I do not recommend cold storing the way I do, there are risks! Upton is correct about this.

But if you cover the risks, cold storage is generally better for greens and whites especially when unopened.

As long as the risk factors are dealt with.

Freezing has a whole other bunch of risk factors, but obviously, they can be dealt with as well.
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