Does Tea Go Stale?

by Emeric Harney October 03, 2019 3 min read 13 Comments

Does Tea Go Stale?

You love tea. You’ve invested in your favorite teas, and ventured out to try some new ones as well. You try to store them correctly, but do you really know how? Whether you buy one tin, several tins or a 50-count bag, you definitely don’t want to take that bag out of your pantry, open it up and discover 50 Sachets of Gray (unless it’s Earl Grey). That would be worse than reading a really bad novel...

Keep your tea as fresh and delicious as the day it arrived in your home. We’ve got a few easy tips for you to follow to make sure your tea is all it can be!

Tea Has Feelings, Too!

You’ve got your pet peeves. Well, so does tea. The first step toward keeping your teabags, sachets and loose tea happy is to avoid these elements:

  • Light
  • High temperatures
  • Humidity
  • Oxygen
  • Odor

All of these elements play a role in eroding your tea’s quality. Keep reading to discover how.

 

Not All Containers Are Created Equal

What you put your tea in makes a huge difference in how long it stays fresh. The following are examples of what  NOT to store tea in:

Transparent Glass. This is a case where letting the sunshine in is not such a good idea. Light oxidizes tea, weakening its aroma and quality. Also, tea sitting in a glass container in the sun gets a double whammy: heat from the sun can cause a chemical reaction in the tea that begins the process of it breaking down.

Your Refrigerator. Your fridge is veritable cornucopia of smells, so unless you want your tea to taste like last night’s pizza, it’s not the best place to store tea (unless possibly very long term in an air-tight, opaque container). Another reason: if you’ve stored tea in the refrigerator, when you open the container air rushes in. Even though you can’t see it, any moisture in the air will condense on your tea leaves and lower the quality. There’s a reason we don’t sell damp pepperoni-flavored teas, so trust us on this.

Plastic Bags. We know, how could this possibly be a bad idea? Once again, tea is really sneaky about absorbing odors; it’s like a little odor thief. While not the worst idea, putting your tea in a plastic bag and placing it in your pantry with your spices and other pungent items can result in corrupting your tea’s flavor. Another thing with plastic bags: if they’re kept in the light, then that becomes another issue.

Airtight Containers to the Rescue!

We don’t just put our tea in tins for the heck of it. Our tins are air-tight, keeping out moisture, oxygen and absorbable odors, and their opacity keeps out light. They are the ideal way to store tea and can be used over and over (we recommend, because of that sneaky odor-absorbing trait, that you put the same type of tea in the tin that you originally purchased).

 

Our bulk sachet bags are not transparent like your common household plastic bag, and they’re thicker as well. While nearly airtight, they’re a good way to store your tea, too (still not in the fridge or next to the cumin), but if you can transfer your tea to a tin, you’ll be a smidge better off. And while some of our teabags come in cardboard boxes, they are individually wrapped to protect the tea inside against the elements.

All It Takes Is a Little T(ea)LC

The process of harvesting and producing teas like Harney’s is an exact one, meant to create a finished product of the highest quality. We hope these tips help you keep your teas as fresh as the day they were packaged. Even when you follow best practices, while tea won’t spoil it will begin to lose its flavor over time. How long they stay fresh depends on the type of tea (for instance, oxidized teas, like black teas, will generally maintain their quality longer, and loose-leaf teas absorb moisture and odors more quickly than bagged teas).

So while you can’t keep it fresh forever, by giving your tea proper TLC you can certainly maintain and extend its shelf life. Here at Harney, we’ve found the best way to keep tea fresh is to drink it as often as possible! Let dust settle on your bottles of fine wine-- keep your tea dust-free!

Emeric Harney
Emeric Harney


13 Responses

SHEILA HENRY
SHEILA HENRY

August 13, 2021

This is regarding the difficulty in opening the Tagalong tins. I had my Tagalong tins for months and had a great deal of difficulty opening them also. Then accidentally one da, I discovered that if you press in the little round bubble on the tin’s top, it loosens the grips that hold the tin closed! Then you just reverse the whole thing to relock the tin! I had never seen this type of tin before, but just thought I had missed the bus on this “technology” – apparently I am not the only one. Kind of funny if you think about it…

Myrna
Myrna

June 04, 2021

Thank you for the information, I love the tins, they are beautiful and handy.

Debbie S.
Debbie S.

May 21, 2021

Another reason I love Harney quality tea is because of the great tins the tea sachets come in. I keep all of my tins and buy refill bags to refill them and I keep them in the Harney wire tea tin rack and change them out as the season and what I am currently drinking. Last year you came out with Tropical Mango and Indigo Punch fresh brew iced tea pouches and offered them in a little box of 3 inside a plastic bag or the option of refill bag of 15. I am wondering why you didn’t offer it in your typical fresh brew iced tea tin of 6 pouches that could be refilled. I have purchased the refill bags of those two iced teas but just squeeze the air out before resealing it. I keep hoping you will come out with the tins with the names on for those new fresh brew iced teas. Please and thank you!

D.D.
D.D.

May 27, 2020

This is for Jodi as I had the same arthritic problem opening the tagalongs and airtight tins. I took a very thick plastic and cut it in 1" wide strips. I knotted one end and placed that inside the tin with the flat “tail” hanging outside. Now to open I just pull up on the tail and I can get them open. I guess you could knot both ends if you need to. Someone will probably invent a cuter version but this works for me. I can’t even open the meds that don’t have child proof tops.

Jodi
Jodi

May 19, 2020

Since traveling with tea has been mentioned, wondering if Harney would consider creating a Tagalong for those of us with arthritis and other dexterity concerns? Purchased a set of Tagalongs, and could only get one tin open – once. Tried individually wrapped, but prefer bulk sachets. Regardless, love Harney Tea!

Candace Welsh
Candace Welsh

October 29, 2019

Great information. Thanks! Plastic bags, not so good? I never knew. In my way to order Harney’s tins. They look nice and will keep my tea tasty. : )

Susan
Susan

October 06, 2019

Please tell Carla ( previous comment) about your absolutely fab small tea containers called tagalong

Ebony
Ebony

October 05, 2019

Thank you for this info; will definitely pass it on to my fellow Tea Sippers!!

Kathy
Kathy

October 05, 2019

Thanks for the great tea storing tips! The tins are the best! Both for tea and multiple other purposes!

Agnes Wilkie
Agnes Wilkie

October 05, 2019

Very helpful info as I have often wondered about this question. Now I can have each of the elements done correctly to maximize the freshness of my valuable Harney’s teas. thank you.

Barbara J Rivera
Barbara J Rivera

October 05, 2019

Great tips Thanks

Carla
Carla

October 05, 2019

Why don’t you come up with a good tin that can store 2-3 teabags and be carried in luggage or purse? Right now I use a breath mint tin – it works I guess but i wonder if it’s really the best way to take my teabags with me?

barbara alexander
barbara alexander

October 05, 2019

Thank you for this! (confirmation I’m doing it ‘right’ is bonus!) Tea is; after all, another ‘food source’ that has specific requirements; if you wish to maximize investment! And we ALL, want that! Never have I ever; kept my spices over the stove. Same for my tea. Perhaps this is something to include in the packaging? (Just a thought!)

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