This Is the Best Way to Store Tea In Your Pantry

Whether you drink bagged or loose-leaf tea, you're going to want to change up your storage situation.

If you're a frequent tea drinker, you probably value keeping your collection of fine herbal teas as well preserved as possible. Whether you keep a selection of tea bags and loose tea in a desk drawer at work or home, there's one way—and one way only—to store your tea.

According to Ottilie Cunningham, Tea & Coffee Buyer at Fortnum & Mason and Global Tea Expert, the best way to store tea is in a tin or dark jar with an airtight lid in a dry pantry or cabinet. Regardless of whether you prefer tea bags or loose tea leaves, both should be stored the same way, says Cunningham.

Unless it's a rare blend, tea should not be stored in the refrigerator.

Why It's Important to Store Tea Properly

Cunningham explains that dried tea leaves have between 3 and 5 percent moisture content, which prevents them from spoiling in the same way as fresh food does when dried. "Because it is dried so well, this does mean that tea is very hygroscopic [meaning] it will absorb water readily like a sponge if left in a humid environment," she says. That's why storing tea in a clean, dry, airtight container is crucial to help prevent it from absorbing excess moisture.

When it comes to storing tea with other pantry items, always keep it away from anything strongly scented or flavored. "Tea will readily absorb other flavors," Cunningham says. "A common mistake is to store tea in the same place as herbal infusions, which can result in an accidentally minty English Breakfast!"

How to Properly Store Tea

All tea should be stored in an air-tight container. It can be made of glass, metal, tin, or ceramic are all popular choices. But you should not use plastic. Plastic tends to absorb odors, and you don't want your previous batch of tea to affect your new one. If you choose glass, make sure it is opaque or dark-colored so light cannot penetrate its contents. Sunlight can damage the overall quality of the tea.

As far as preserving and enjoying the flavor of your tea, Cunningham says, "The fresher the tea is, the better it will be, regardless of how well it is stored." So even if your favorite variety is on sale or sold in bulk, you're better off buying it in smaller qualities and only refreshing your stash once you're running low.

How Long Does Tea Last In the Pantry?

If stored properly in an air-tight container, tea can remain fresh in a pantry for up to one year. Technically tea does not have an expiration date because it rarely spoils. But it can go stale, which means a weaker cup with a less-than-fresh flavor.

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