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Best Tea Storage: Tips For Your Freshest Cup

Tea is an essential part of people’s daily routines all across the globe. There are so many opportunities to brew up a cup of tea and so many varieties to choose from. However, just like anything else, tea can go bad if stored improperly.

For the freshest cup, loose tea and tea bags should be stored in an airtight container away from light, heat, and moisture. Tea should be kept at a constant room temperature and should never be refrigerated or frozen.  

In this article, you’ll learn how to store tea the correct way. The type of tea, intended use, and storage time all make a difference in the shelf life of your tea.

Lastly, as you keep reading, you’ll learn how to recognize the signs that your tea that has not been stored correctly and if there’s anything you can do to rescue it.

How Storage Affects Quality of Tea

If you’re an avid tea drinker, you want to protect your tea from these main taste stealers:

  • Moisture
  • Light
  • Heat
  • Air
  • Strong smells and odors

These five problems are lurking around every corner of your kitchen, from the cupboard and kitchen counter to the refrigerator.

That’s why it’s so important to think about proper storage, whether you’ll be displaying your tea in a sweet tea station, a tea storage tin on your counter, a dedicated tea corner or tea cabinet, or in mason jars in your pantry.

Luckily for tea lovers, keeping your favorite teas fresh involves only a few main storage concerns:

  • keeping it in a dry place in an airtight container to keep out moisture, air, and odors
  • keeping it away from light (especially direct sunlight)
  • keeping it in a cool place at a constant room temperature (not in the freezer or refrigerator)

These tips won’t keep your tea fresh forever, but they will help keep your tea fresh for a long time.

This post may contain affiliate links. My full disclosure policy is sort of boring, but you can find it here.

storing tea in a glass jars with a flip top glass lid and clamp
A simple glass jar with an airtight seal is a great way to store tea in your cupboard out of direct light.

Storing Tea in Containers 

Even though there are differences between loose leaf and teas bags they both need to be stored properly to ensure freshness and sanitation. However, not all tea-storage options are created equal. 

Whatever way you store your tea, you should store it in a container that blocks out as much light as possible to preserve the leaves and, therefore, the flavor. 

There are many great tea storage ideas that you can implement to keep your tea fresh. Read on about what to do and what not to do to keep your precious tea leaves at their best.

1. Always Remove Tea from Original Packaging like Cardboard Boxes

Most of the time, sachets of tea come in cardboard boxes, plastic bags, or paper bags, especially if you’re buying them in a grocery store. And a lot of people just leave it at that; shove the boxes into the cupboard and take out a tea bag whenever you’re in the mood for a cup. However, this is not the best way to store tea.

Cardboard boxes don’t provide much in the way of protection. If your box ends up under something heavy in the cupboard, it’ll get crushed and leave you with bags loose in your cabinet, or worse, loose tea everywhere.

Prolonged exposure to air and potentially water can compromise the flavor of your tea.  Cardboard also doesn’t protect your tea from strong odors it may pick up in your kitchen cabinet. So it’s a good idea to store tea bags and loose tea that come in cardboard in different tea storage containers.

2. Choose Containers With Airtight Lids

Tea containers can be a pretty and functional type of long term storage for many different types of tea. Glass, stainless steel, ceramic, or plastic containers with lids are a great way to store tea long-term.

Make sure lids are airtight. An airtight seal protects the tea from the elements and potential invaders like ants or even mice. In addition, a tea canister is easier to take on the go than a cardboard box and more likely to be able to hold up during travel. 

Hard containers with lids are also perfect for tea because they are:

  • Reusable 
  • Easy to label 
  • Perfect for indoor and outdoor use 
  • Pleasant to look at
  • Protective against absorption of other odors/flavors

3. Choose Tea Containers that Protect from Light

If you’re going to be storing your tea inside a cupboard or pantry, you can choose pretty much airtight container that strikes your fancy. That’s because inside the cupboard, your tea will be protected from light. There are tons of pretty glass containers that will do a great job at protecting your tea.

But if you want to display your tea on a counter or in a tea station, look for a container that’s opaque. Ceramic, stainless steel, or even dark colored glass are great options.

Loose Leaf Tea Storage Ideas

Many times quality loose-leaf tea will come in a container that’s both airtight and protects against light. If that’s the case, you’re good to go. For example, this tea tin fills the bill without needing to be transferred to another container.

Whittard of Chelsea - Piccadilly Blend Caddy - Black Loose Leaf Tea, Vegetarian, Vegan Friendly, Resealable Tea Tin (100g, 1ct)

But if your tea came in a plastic bag or paper bag, you’ll need to move it to a more protective container. Here are some of the best containers for effective, functional, and pretty tea storage.

Glass Tea Containers

This glass container is perfect if you’ll be storing your tea on a dark pantry shelf. It’s the perfect size for specialty teas, has a sealing lid, and is made from borosilicate glass.

ZENS Airtight Glass Jar Container,15 Fluid Ounce Clear Glass Canister with Lid, Food Storage Jars for Kitchen Spice or Loose Tea,450ml

If you’re looking for a tea container that will hold a lot of tea, these embossed glass containers with sealable lids are perfect. I really like the wide mouth style of these. It makes filling them a snap, and it’s easy to scoop out the perfect amount of tea when you’re ready for a cup.

Glass Storage Jars Vintage Embossed Glass Canisters , Livejun Food Cereal Storage Containers with Bamboo Lid , Decorative Jars for Kitchen Counter,Pantry ,Set 3-Piece Glass Jars in 60 oz/40 oz/20 oz (Round)

Stainless Steel Tea Storage

Stainless steel containers are a great choice if you’ll be storing your tea on your countertop or tea corner. This stainless tea canister protects your tea from light, won’t pick up any off odors, and seals well. It has a cool, vintage tea look as a bonus. It’s one of the best tea tins I’ve found.

YARDWE Stainless Steel Tea Caddy Metal Tea Canister Food Storage Jar with Lid for Loose Tea Leaf Sugar Coffee Nut Herb Cereal Bean ( 14X10.5X6.5CM )

If you’re looking for something more modern, you’ll find so many options. Just make sure it has a sealable lid like this cute labeled stainless steel canister.

OGGI Stainless Steel Tea Canister 62oz - Airtight Clamp Lid, Clear See-Thru Top - Ideal for Tea Bag Storage, Loose Tea Storage, Kitchen Storage, Pantry Storage. Large Size 5" x 7.5".

Ceramic Tea Storage

This ceramic tea canister is SO pretty and would gorgeous on a kitchen counter. It checks off all the boxes: it has an airtight seal and protects from light that degrades your precious tea leaves.

jessie Loose Tea Tin Tea Storage Tea Caddy Tea Canister Tea Storage Container Tins Jar with Airtight Lid (Blue)

This delicate, yet effective ceramic tea container is so beautiful, but still effective. It’s one of my favorites.

Dahlia Porcelain Tea Canister for Loose Tea, Airtight Longquan Celadon Tea Caddy, Bird on Lotus 700 ML

Resealable Bags

The other most common option when it comes to storing tea is in plastic ziplock bags. This is the best in terms of portability, and it’s a cost-effective way to store teas since resealable bags can be reused, especially if they were used to store tea bags. 

A ziplock bag may be a great option if you want to tote a bit of tea in your purse or on vacation.

However, they provide little protection, so unless you have a designated spot for your tea, beware that the leaves may get crushed.

This is definitely not the optimum way to store tea, but it’s a step up from the cardboard boxes and paper bags of store packaging.

Best Storage Ideas for Tea Bags

If you love the convenience of a tea bag, you should still think about tea storage. After all, who wants a cup of tea that smells like whatever else is lurking in your pantry?

All of the above choices are great ways to store your teabags. But if you love tea bags, here are some more ways to store them in style.

Keep in mind that these aren’t airtight storage, but most quality tea bags have a sealed envelope to keep out moisture, odors, and light.

Simple Tea Storage for a Drawer or Cabinet

Sometimes simple is better. This is perfect to hold several varieties of your favorite tea. It’s got a low profile so it will easily fit in a drawer.

MaxGear Tea Bag Organizer Tea Bag Storage Tea Bag Holder Tea Box Clear Storage Bins for Sugar Packet, Coffee, Condiment, Spice Pouches in Kitchen, Cabinet, Countertop, Pantry, 10.4 x 3.5 x 3 inch

Tea Bag Storage for a Farmhouse Kitchen

This tea bag storage tin has a flip top lid and has six compartments inside to organize your favorite tea flavors.

AuldHome Farmhouse Tea Bag Box, Vintage Retro Style Enamelware Tea Storage Tin

Rustic Galvanized Tea Bag Storage

Looking for a more rustic look? This metal tea bag storage box might be the perfect fit for your kitchen.

Saratoga Home Tea Box for Tea Bags Organizer Solid Metal Tea Chest for Kitchen Countertop & Pantry, Galvanized Steel Teabox to Sort & Store 120+ Teabags, Multipurpose Organizing Tin

Wooden Tea Bag Storage

This bamboo tea storage box has a locking lid and room for 12 different teas.

ROYALHOUSE Natural Bamboo Tea Bag Organizer Box (12 Compartments)

Can Tea be Stored in the Fridge?

Before it’s brewed, tea should never be stored in the refrigerator. Refrigerators generate a lot of condensation, and condensation can be harmful and degrade the tea if it’s not stored properly. 

In addition, storing your tea in the refrigerator causes the temperature of the tea to fluctuate too much; it’s cold, gets warmer when you take it out to use it, and cold temperatures again when you put it back in. 

Can Tea be Stored in the Freezer?

The freezer is also not an adequate place to store your tea. It may seem like it’ll help it last longer, but it will ruin the tea. 

Freezing and thawing tea compromises both the integrity of the leaves and the flavor. Storing your tea in the freezer or refrigerator speeds up the aging process rather than slowing it down.

Loose Leaf vs. Tea Bags for Storage

There are different types of packaging when it comes to tea: loose leaf tea and tea that comes in sachets or teabags. There is no difference in taste. However, loose leaf tea can be harder to store since it typically comes in plastic bags that are not always resealable. 

Storing loose leaf tea also means finding on-the-go storage options. With sachets of tea, you can keep them with you in your purse or bag, but with loose leaf teas, you’ll need to find a separate container.

So whether you love green tea or white tea made with loose leaf tea, or black tea and oolong tea bags, the tea storage guidelines are the same.

Does Improper Storage Impact Taste?

Tea ages, just like cheese or wine. And, just like cheese and wine, a wrong step in the process can ruin the final product, which in this case is your brew. Tea doesn’t improve in flavor as it ages, though. It ages, and, as it does so, the leaves lose their potency, and the tea may fall flat of your expectations. 

Tea has a shelf life of about two years before tea goes bad. Tea doesn’t necessarily go bad; (even if you consume tea past the expiration date, nothing bad will happen). There isn’t a risk of foodborne illness. It just won’t taste as good, or like anything at all like fresh tea in some cases. 

The issue with improper storage is that it can cause the tea to age faster. This occurs when tea is exposed to extreme temperatures, moisture, or air for prolonged periods. Some things you might notice if you drink tea that has been stored too long can include:

  • Bland or flat flavor 
  • Bitterness
  • Darker color than usual

Using Expired or Bad Tea

Luckily, you may still be able to salvage the leaves for something rather than just throwing them away, even if the tea doesn’t seem like it’s still good for anything. Activities to do with expired tea can include:

  • Staining. Have you ever tried tea-dying fabric or tea-staining paper? Old tea is perfect for staining the pages of scrapbooks or sketches to create an aged and distressed look. You might also be able to tea stain some clothes to look this way if you’re going for an aged vintage look.
  • Potpourri. If your tea still has some scent to it, you can throw it in a sachet with some citrus peels and essential oils to create a nice air freshener for your bathroom or closet. 
  • Compost. When all else fails, you can compost tea that’s no longer drinkable and use it as fertilizer for acid-loving plants. 

The Takeaway:  Storage Matters For the Best Tea Taste

Storing tea is not difficult, but it is a crucial step to maintaining your tea’s longevity. Otherwise, you may find your tea collection quickly going to waste. Storing tea isn’t just functional, though; you can make your storage into a display piece by using pretty, airtight jars with some nice labels. 

Just remember: airtight container + moderate temperature + dark place = freshest tea.

Want to remember this Storing Tea Tips post? Save it to your favorite Pinterest tea loving board and pass it on!