Tea is known as one of the healthiest drink in the world. It has become an integral part of our daily life. It is a common misbelief that since tea is prepared by drying of tea leaves; it does not expire. Contrary to it, tea when exposed to oxygen, at high temperature along with the presence of sunlight, leads to a chemical reaction. These reactions result in a reduction in the quality of tea. It also gathers mould, which leads to its decay. All packaged tea shelf life has an expiry date printed on them, so if they are stored properly, they will last longer and will be safe to use long after the “use before” date.
The Life Span Of Various Teas
Tea, when not stored correctly, can lead to its spoilage even before its expiry date. Different types of tea defer in their lifespan. It is a well-known fact that all green and oolong tea have a short life span. However, black and white tea is said to have a longer life span. The shelf life of different tea is discussed below –
It is unfermented tea and has the shelf life of 18 months, after that it begins to lose its flavour. But if it stored adequately, the lifespan of green tea can be extended to more than three years.
Contrary to green tea, black tea is fully fermented hence has a longer shelf life. Bagged black tea has a lifespan of 3 years, and when stored in tins or aluminium foil, it lasts up to 3 years.
Oolong tea is a type of semi-fermented tea. Its shelf-life depends on the degree of fermentation. If it is stored well away from the light, it has a shelf life of 2 years.
The shelf life of white tea when appropriately stored will be two years. As anything more than this time will lead to it gradually losing its aroma. White tea, when stored for 5 to 20 years, has enhanced medicinal value.
Factors To Keep In Mind While Storing The Tea
The life span of tea depends on the way it is stored. Hence it is crucial to keep in mind the factors while storing tea. They are –
Air or Oxygen
Oxygen present in the air reacts with the tea leaves and leads to the chemical reaction. This reaction forces the leaves to change colour and lose its aroma. Storing it in an airtight container is always beneficial for the long shelf life of the tea.
Heat and Sunlight
Tea leaves are sensitive; hence they react to indirect heat or sunlight leading to its expiry. So it is best to store tea in a dark area or opaque container away from heat and sunlight.
Another major factor affecting the lifespan of tea is humidity. It turns the tea mouldy which will completely ruin its flavour.
Pests and Odour Causing Factors
It is essential to store tea away from pests and all type of odour causing factors and spices that will lead to losing its natural aroma. Besides these factors, there are also other ways of preserving tea. They are –
- Seal up the pouch after every use.
- Make sure not to open the package frequently.
- Refrain from using a wet spoon to scoop up tea.
- The package of tea once opened, should be used up within a few weeks.
- Lastly, tea stored in a refrigerator or in a vacuum-sealed container last twice as long.
All the above factors contribute to enhancing the tea shelf life. However, tea needs to be brewed properly as well as stored to attain the enticing aroma.