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Shelf Life of Tea

by Brooke Davis April 25, 2016

Shelf Life of Tea

Tea is one of the healthiest beverages in the world, which has already become a part of our daily lives. You may wonder how long does tea last. Does tea expire? According to tea experts, different types of tea do have a shelf life. Tea will go moldy if we don't store properly or over its expiration date. So does the shelf life of different teas is the same?

While storing teas, we need to pay much more attention especially for these loose leaf teas, because the quality of tea will be affected if we don't drink it in its best before date. Compared with sealed tea, it is also much easier to go bad.

Typically, the shelf life of sealed package tea can last from 12 month to 36 months. However, the loose leaf tea is shorter because it easily absorbs moisture and odor in the outside. As a result, it gradually loses its original flavor and goes bad over time. For example, green tea can potentially last up to a year when stored at room temperature, here we suggest buying smaller quantities of green teas and drink them faster to retain freshness.

As it is widely known, tea is good at absorbing moisture, it will speed up chemical processes in tea compounds while at high temperature, humidity, sufficient sunlight and oxygen conditions. These chemical reactions that result reduce the quality of tea, even make the tea go stale in a short time. Therefore it is needed to keep the tea in a proper way, especially for the annual freshly picked green teas and aged pu'erh teas, which are quite valuable.

Here we'd like to introduce tea shelf life for different types:

The Shelf Life of Green Tea

Green tea belongs to unfermented tea and the average shelf life of green tea is approximately 18 months, then it begins to fade in flavor if keep it too long. However, under certain conditions, the shelf life still can be extended to more than three years. There are five enemies that you should keep away: light, air, heat, moisture, and odor.

The Shelf Life of Black Tea

Black tea is fully fermented, and it has a longer shelf life than green tea. Generally, the shelf life of black tea in bulk is about 18 months, while bagged tea is 24 months. Tins or aluminum foil bags for black tea can be stored for about 3 years, and paper bag is for 2 years.

The Shelf Life of Oolong

Oolong tea is a kind of semi-fermented tea, and the shelf life of this tea is about 2 years. But for loose leaf Oolong tea in bulk, the shelf life will be shorter. In addition, the shelf life of Oolong depends on the degree of fermentation and storage method, what's more, you need to choose a sealed container and put it in a dry, dark, airtight and odor free place.

The Shelf Life of White Tea

White tea is a special treasure among others, people say that the longer of the storage time, the higher medicinal value it will be. When properly stored, the shelf life of packaged tea is usually 2 years. Beyond this period, the aroma will be gradually lost even kept it in a best way. When speaks to white tea, this is totally different. Just like raw pu'erh, the longer it stored, the richer and mellower it will be, it also known as "one-year tea, three-year medicine, seven-year treasure" (一年茶、三年药、七年宝). Most of the aged white teas we buy from the market or tea shop are 5-6 years old. If you have one for more than 10 or 20 years, that means you have an extremely valuable collection.

The Shelf Life of Dark Tea (Hei Cha)

Pu'erh is a subset of Heicha, and there are two types of pu'erh based on how the tea is produced: raw and ripe. What is its maximum storage limit, 5 years or 50 years? This is difficult to answer. There is no definite time limit for the best preservation length of Pu-erh tea. Properly stored pu'erh tea will improve the quality and result delicious fragrant flavor.




Brooke Davis
Brooke Davis

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