Loose leaf tea storage should be easy if you have the right tools and setting. Essentially, all you need is an airtight container that can be kept in a cool, dark location. However, the exact type of container you use and the exact location you store it will both impact the longevity of the tea.
Loose leaf storage is also slightly different to storing tea bags. This article will break the entire process down for you, explaining the different types of tea storage options available to you, as well as reviewing some of our picks from each category.
Tea Storage Guidelines
There are a total of six simple rules to follow related to the proper storage of tea. The purpose of keeping tea protected is to preserve the taste and flavor of the product. The following guidelines will focus on the elements that can have this effect on your stored tea.
1. Protect Tea From Oxygen
Oxidation is the main thing that can reduce the quality of your tea, loose leaf in particular. Oxidation results from exposure to air. This means that airtight loose tea storage containers are your best defense in keeping oxidation to a minimum.
However, it is also important to note that ambient air trapped inside an airtight storage container will have an effect on your tea. Remember, airtight is very different from air-free. Vacuum-sealed containers are better and oxygen absorbers are an additional help, although not effective for long-term storage.
2. Protect Tea From Heat
You may have heard that storing tea in a freezer or refrigerator is a good idea. For some delicate yellow and green teas, it is a great storage strategy. That’s because heat will actually increase the speed in which tea oxidizes.
When you use this method, you must let the tea removed from these cold storage locations reach room temperature before using. This reduces the potential of condensation forming.
However, if you don’t want to keep your tea in the fridge, it is best kept in a cool, dry location. This will minimize the impact temperature can have on your tea.
3. Protect Tea From Light
There is a reason why most tea storage containers are not clear glass. That is because light can have an effect on the quality of the tea. Tea leaves are sensitive to light and compounds found in them can experience what is called photo-oxidative changes.
If you have ever noticed a metallic flavor coming from older tea leaves, that is the result of light damage. Other chemical reactions are still being studied but it is safe to say that keeping tea in the dark is still better for the quality of the tea.
4. Protect Tea From Odors
Tea leaves are like scent sponges as they will absorb those in their immediate area. If you are storing scented teas, this may not be as much of an issue. However, the quality of your tea can be severely damaged if it happens to absorb unpleasant odors.
This makes proper storage an essential part of the equation where the location is of vital importance. The type of container will also be a key component with some wood choices, airtight tins with rubber seals and some plastics that can give your tea a bad smell and taste.
5. Protect Tea From Moisture
The way in which you release flavors from tea is with the addition of moisture – water. This is why you must store your tea in places that are not moist and in a container that does not have cracks or places where moisture can seep inside.
What adds to the importance of proper storage is that tea will also absorb the moisture contained in the air. The easiest way to keep moisture from steeping your tea while in storage is with the use of airtight containers. These do a great job of keeping your tea moisture-free.
6. Protect Tea With More Tea
This point is crucial. An airtight container that is full will keep tea stored in it in better condition than an airtight container that is a third or quarter full. The idea is to fill the container with as much loose leaf tea as possible, shake it to cause the contents to settle, and then fill it some more.
The theory is that a larger amount of tea in a container is going to have less likelihood of being impacted by the surroundings as a smaller amount of tea would in the same container. This is because there is simply less air to interact with. You’ll even notice that one will smell fresher than the other once you give it a try.
Additional Loose Leaf Tea Storage Points
Green, yellow and white teas are less oxidized than oolong teas and black teas. The less oxidized teas will degrade faster than the others, so keep this in mind when planning your tea storage strategy.
Broken tea leaves will also speed up the process of deterioration. Essentially, the more broken a tea leaf is, the more surface area is present for oxidation and other issues that will change the scent and flavor of the tea.
Our Pick For The Best Tea Storage Container:
Tightvac Airtight Multi-Use Portable Container
This 6-ounce container is part of a tremendous line of quality storage containers. Using the patented Tightvac system, you simply press a button on the cap and pull the cap off. To close and seal the container, you press the button on the cap and push the cap onto the container and it will seat and seal. There is no pumping required to complete the vacuum seal.
In addition to keeping products sealed inside, the Tightvac will keep your stored tea free from unpleasant odors. The two-way valve that is built into the cap permits gas to slowly be released and not let oxygen in. The manufacturer of this product says your storage items will remain preserved and unharmed for a year or longer with this system.
The Tighvac airtight vacuum seal not only keeps air out, it also keeps moisture away. Made with NSF and FDA-approved food grade plastic, this container can last up to ten years with proper care. As this item is promoted as a multi-use container, it will hold much more than just tea leaves. You can use it for anything that will fit into the 6-ounce size.
- This product will protect contents from absorbing four odors
- Small size makes it easy to transport in a backpack
- Some people have difficulty operating the vacuum seal button
Other Storage Container Options:
Metal Loose Leaf Tea Storage Tins
These are probably best known as the oldest style of storage container still in current use. Metal storage tins usually feature lids that have a tight fit and are suitable for holding several tea bags or loose leaf tea in sealed plastic bags. Some metal tin designs provide airtight storage and others are shaped to allow for easy stacking or have space-saving designs.
Tea Tins Canister Set – Airtight Lids for Loose Leaf Tea
This is a set of Silver Onyx tin tea canisters. They come in a neutral silver color which fits most kitchen or pantry décor. The double lid design features an airtight seal when closed which locks out moisture, air, and light.
The size of these tea storage tins are such that they can also be used to store alternate items other than loose leaf tea. The stylish design keeps these containers looking contemporary in your home for as long as you choose to use them.
- Double lid construction provides an easy airtight seal
- Great for kitchen organizing of various dry goods
- Size is much smaller than appears for some
- May get damaged and can split a side seam when dropped too many times (as you may expect!)
Thistle Moon Steel Loose Leaf Tea Tin
Here is a set of two round loose leaf tea storage tins. They contain latch covers to hold loose leaf tea securely inside. The tin-plated steel construction is durable, long-lasting and of high quality. They feature a brushed chrome finish to provide an elegant look wherever you store them.
A plastic gasket provides the airtight seal once the lid is latched into the closed/locked position. Each tin measures 6.5-inches tall by 3.6-inches wide and will hold up to 12-ounces of loose leaf tea. These containers are also suitable for storing other dry goods in them as well.
- Stunning appearance with the brushed chrome exterior finish
- Will hold a lot of loose leaf tea
- The round size is difficult for some storage locations
- Some users claim they look a bit on the cheap side
Leyoubei Tinplate Caddy Box Retro Colorful Tea Tins
As part of a set of six different tins, these containers all feature assorted colors but each has a double cover. They measure just 3.55-inches high by 2.55-inches deep but are still large enough to hold many different things. If you have six different loose tea leaf flavors, this is your choice.
The unique designs make these perfect gifts for anyone and look great when sitting on a shelf. Made out of a lightweight, durable tin, they seal when closed but are designed just to store dry items. They make great mini loose tea storage containers.
- Lightweight, unique looking tins
- Very small so you will not be able to store much in each
Glass Loose Leaf Tea Storage Canisters
Sturdy and functional are the words best used to describe glass tea storage canisters. Although they do not completely block out light – which is a concern if you are storing loose leaf tea – several designs provide some protection. Tight-fitting lids with seals make airtight storage possible and space-saving designs make glass products a good choice for tea storage.
Infinity Jars Black Ultraviolet Refillable Screw Top Jar
Promoted as an airtight, scent-proof, ultraviolet glass jar, this is a high performance storage container. Made with a BPA-free plastic lid, this tea storage jar measures 3.9-inches tall with a diameter of 2.8-inches. Ideal for use in storing your loose leaf tea or any other dry good.
The manufacturer has had the ultraviolet glass laboratory tested and it passed. This means the items you store inside this container will remain in prime condition for over six months. There is also a 100-percent hassle-free, money back guarantee.
- This jar is effective in keeps products protected from odors
- The ultraviolet glass looks black, but is not
- The sealing ring at the top of the lid may wear out over time
Glass Food Storage Canister for Tea, Coffee
Featuring a unique bamboo lid, this glass storage container has a silicone sealing ring that creates an airtight seal when closed. The bamboo wood lid also gives this product a unique appearance that allows it to fit into any décor in a kitchen or cupboard or shelf.
The container will hold just over 7-ounces of dry items and about 18.6 fluid ounces of wet items. This makes the glass jar an effective storage unit for all kinds of products including loose leaf tea. However, it does not keep light out so you will have to store this in a dark location.
- Good looking product sitting on a kitchen shelf
- Silicone seal provides a strong airtight seal
- High quality workmanship in the construction of this product
- The glass of this container is not treated to prevent light from entering and damaging contents
Plastic Loose Leaf Tea Storage Containers
Plastic tea storage ideas are most definitely practical, functional and affordable. While you can store loose leaf tea in these, they are often better for holding tea bags. Some designs provide vacuum seals although some plastic is not designed for blocking light. When using one of these types of containers, it is wise to store them in a dry and dark location.
Tightvac Nested Vacuum Storage Containers
This set of four plastic containers come nested inside each other and feature a unique single push button vacuum-seal system. It keeps the dry goods you have stored inside dry, moisture free and oxygen free. The sizes include 24-ounces (10.25-inches high by 4 7/8-inches round), 12-ounces (7 7/8-inches by 4 1/8-inches), 6-ounces (5 5/8-inches by 3 3/8-inches) and 3-ounces (3.75-inches by 3-inches). The larger sized containers are also made with wide mouth openings for easy access. These containers are made from BPA free food grade plastic and are airtight, durable, reusable, smell proof and easy to clean.
- Set comes in four different sizes
- Perfect for storing loose leaf tea or any other dry food item
- The smaller sizes do not have a wide mouth opening
Air-Tight Food, Tea, Coffee Storage Container Set
Made with BPA-free plastic and FDA approved, shatterproof material, this container is premium in quality and performance. These containers come in four different sizes and the set includes a tall one (1.9-liters), 2 medium (1.2-liters), 2 small (0.8-liters) and 2 mini (0.5-liters) sizes.
Designed for stacking, the glass-like material these loose leaf tea containers are made from will not keep light out, but do have an innovative lid-lock mechanism that provides an airtight seal. Plus, the cap is easy enough to open with only two fingers – pop it up or push it down.
- Attractive set of storage containers
- Good, strong seal to make these airtight
- These do not reduce light exposure to products stored in them
Ceramic Loose Leaf Tea Containers
The two main characteristics of containers made from ceramics are that they are constructed from clay and that this makes them opaque. For storage of items that can be damaged by light, this is a consideration to keep in mind. These containers are available in various sizes, shapes and styles with some featuring tight-fitting lids and seals to make them airtight.
Mason Cash in The Forest Coffee Jar
High quality, chip-resistant stoneware construction makes this a durable storage container. Plus, stoneware will not stain nor will it absorb odors or cooking flavors. Measuring 5.5-inches in diameter and 8.25-inches tall, this container will hold up to 2 1/4-quarts or 75 fluid ounces.
The versatile and functional design features an airtight seal with an easy-off lid to permit quick and easy access when needed. The detailed woodland pattern will fit into the décor of any kitchen and will safely hold your loose leaf tea or any other dry good.
- Very attractive, decorative stoneware canisters
- Electric beaters have caused marking on the inside walls
DII 3 Piece Airtight Food, Coffee, Tea Storage Canister
There are three containers in this set. They are in two different colors, red or white. They are also in three different sizes measuring 4 cups, 7 cups and 15 cups. A silicone gasket provides a solid airtight seal when the lid is closed which help preserve the contents.
The different sizes allow you to store any dry item including loose leaf tea. The style of these items allows them to fit perfectly in any kitchen and the contemporary look makes them a versatile addition to your smaller storage needs.
- Solid construction
- Stoneware means these are going to be sturdy and durable
- These canisters are part of the DII home décor program and match other items produced by the same manufacturer
- Depending on shipping, sometimes the wrong size lids end up in the packaging
Tea lovers know a good cup of tea has a lot to do with the condition of the leaves. And storage of loose leaf tea can have a serious effect on flavor and quality.
Thankfully, there are nowadays plenty of options to suit your décor and budget when it comes to tea storage containers, tins and jars. And for our picks of even more tea accessories, click here.
These storage solutions should help you to keep your tea in better condition. Proper loose leaf tea storage can be the difference between a good or not-so-good cup of tea.