How do I store tea to make sure that it will improve over time?
I am happy to have received this question in the survey we recently sent out called: “My Life with Tea.” Feel free to help me fill it out if you have a moment and would like to raise any questions you have about tea.
They say to invest in what you know, and that is why I can tell you how to invest in tea. Now is a good time to invest in tea! Certain teas will go up in value. It's pretty difficult to guess which ones. Tea rarely increases in value quickly. But if you are super wealthy and you have an extra house and you fill the entire house with tea, and forget about it for thirty years, you will have jump started your family’s entry into the tea business. I'll even go buy all of the tea for you to make sure you don't get ripped off.
All joking aside, I want to talk to you about a very serious aspect of aging tea: the storage. How do we store tea to make sure that it will improve over time? I will give you some thoughts on tea storage.
- The renowned tea master said, “Tea is like people, when you give it a great environment, it will improve over time.” We can never underestimate the power of environment. But for tea, storage is different from people. Basic requirements are: keep it away from light, strong smells, and extreme changes in temperature...and keep it still. The same rules as storing wine apply, but then you can take it to the next level (i.e., old wood cabin in a river basin.) Given that's not possible, vacuum sealed in a closet is great.
- Thick mylar vacuum sealed bag. For oolong this is the best. And the thicker the bag, the better. Tea experts know, that the best tea is stored in the thickest bags. Of course this is not true as a consumer, but coming from farmers that grow high quality tea, thicker bags are what is preferred. This type of packaging technology is relatively new in the tea industry.
- Tea doesn't go bad, it changes. This applies to all tea (maybe not matcha because it is ground to fine powder). This reminds me of another storage requirement: volume. Tea likes itself, so you need at least 75g or so of tea vacuum sealed together for best results. Want another storage tip? Get as many vacuum sealed bags of different kinds of tea that you want to put away for storage, and let it sit away from anything smelly on the shelf in a closet.
- With the exception of Puer and other dark teas, tea doesn't do well when exposed to open air.
- A thick brown paper bag. If you have puer cakes, that you are storing, either a mix and mash of cakes together, or a single cake, use this kind of paper bag. In Taiwan, it's called cowhide paper...you want to get some thick cowhide paper bags, put your puer in there and wrap the bag top down and let it sit away from anything smelly on the shelf in a closet.