How long does tea really last?


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How long does tea really last?

Postby skywarrior » Aug 27th, '07, 03:04

This is probably a dumb question. :roll: Over the years people would give me teas I wasn't all that wild about but tried every once in a while. I've pitched a fair amount due to my recent move, but it's got me thinking about what the real shelf life of tea is. I have some tea that is still packaged and some I've tried. So, how ruthless do I need to get?
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Re: How long does tea really last?

Postby Chip » Aug 27th, '07, 09:40

Welcome Skywarrior,

If it is black, it could last years, 2 to 3. If it is green, it may last only months. Once a green tea is opened, it may only be good for a few months. But I have had some greens open for 6 months and they actually were better, but this is the exception. Same with oolong. Let your palate be your guide.

skywarrior wrote:This is probably a dumb question. :roll: Over the years people would give me teas I wasn't all that wild about but tried every once in a while. I've pitched a fair amount due to my recent move, but it's got me thinking about what the real shelf life of tea is. I have some tea that is still packaged and some I've tried. So, how ruthless do I need to get?
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Postby cha cha » Nov 30th, '07, 03:57

For the green tea, once opened, if you bundle it tightly and keep it in the fridge from other smells, it could be kept fresh longer, but you'd better finish it in the same year of the production. Becasue we drink green tea for fresh.
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Postby Wesli » Nov 30th, '07, 04:11

I would never throw my green teas back in the fridge after opening them. I'm not even sure if thats such a good idea...
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Postby Space Samurai » Nov 30th, '07, 11:53

Yeah, once its opened and you put it in the fridge, you could have a problem with condensation. The same thing if you take an unopened package out of the fridge and open it. Its best to wait till it is room temperature first.
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Postby evilive » Dec 1st, '07, 08:43

I have some loose leaf Ceylon from 2002 (before I was a tea nut) sitting in my cupboard...I'm tempted yet cautious to try it
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Postby Chip » Dec 1st, '07, 10:23

2002...that may be good for sweetened iced tea, but I am curious if it is still any good.

I recently went into my tea drawer where all my black teas have sat dormant and untouched though well sealed for around a year and a half while I go through my current green tea phase.

I opened up a selection called Golden Monkey Imperial from Upton. This is either a 2004 or 2005 harvest black. I was completely astounded as I brewed the tea and took a whiff of the aroma. My knees almost gave out. It was remarkably sweet like molassis. This is unquestionably better than when it was fresh when I felt it was a little rough or too intense. Now it is so good. I probably have 20 black teas equally well sealed and preserved. I bet my Hao Ya A is really really good also.

Has anyone else had a similar experience with black teas, especially from China???

I also tried a Darjeeling. This also really shocked me, perhaps even more than the Golden Monkey. It was still really really good.
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Postby Wesli » Dec 1st, '07, 18:22

I can't say I have Chip. One of my Dian Hongs is quite old right now, and the tea it brews is becoming a bit funky.

What I hope is that this is simply an intermediary stage, and that if I give it a good while, maybe a year, then it might smooth out into something more delicious.
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Postby Chip » Dec 1st, '07, 18:54

I tend to think that perhaps some Chinese blacks have that fire similar to some oolongs and maybe a little aging is a good thing for these blacks as well...but what do I know???? :?
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Postby Space Samurai » Dec 1st, '07, 19:18

I was reading on Hobbes' blog the other day about some older dian hong; I think some of it was as old as 2000. It suprised me, but I am quite curious now.
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Postby Wesli » Dec 1st, '07, 20:35

I've never seen/heard of a fired Dian Hong. (high-fire whatnot in the same way some oolongs are)

That's very interesting Space. I will definitely see if this "Grand Yunnan Imperial" develops a new character over time. It makes me wonder if there is a good way to store a dian hong for this aging business...
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Postby CynTEAa » Dec 1st, '07, 21:57

The better quality China black teas tend to age well, becoming smoother, sweeter and more complex over time. They seem to be unique in this way but of course, proper storage is crucial.

Once had a nice Kenyan that became amazing about 9 months after harvest. It was a decent tea at first - nothing special - but suddenly developed a complexity later in its life span. We'll never know at what point it would have lost its magic as someone dropped and broke the canister!

:(
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Postby scruffmcgruff » Dec 1st, '07, 22:11

I think most black teas can age, it's just a matter of how long. Second flush Darjeeling (I would actually consider it an oolong, but its still not fired, anyway) is different in a good way after a year, for example, but two years is really pushing it.
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Postby divintea » Dec 4th, '07, 17:42

So it seems like teas reach their peak, and then the taste flounders a bit? At first I was going to relate this to aging wines and cheeses, but tea seems so much more complex!
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