How To Store Chinese Tea
All teas benefit from being stored in a cool
dry place where the temperature does not
fluctuate very much. Tea is very good at
absorbing odours so keep it away from anything
smelly. Airtight containers are
inexpensive and much better than the plastic
pouches or cardboard containers that tea
typically comes in.
Almost all teas last for about
one year. Green/White teas deteriorate more
quickly than fermented teas because they
oxidize faster when exposed to the air.
Always ask how long a tea has been sitting on
the shelf before you buy and when new teas
will be in stock. Vacuum packaging is a mixed
blessing as tea lasts longer on the shelf but
the packaging may crush the leaves and make
the tea bitter. Many teas come in a cardboard
container with a vacuum packed pouch inside.
Keep the tea sealed in the pouch and keep the
pouch in the cardboard container if you don't
have any airtight containers.
If you have airtight tea containers, you can
store all Green/White teas, Taiwan Oolong, Tie
Guan Yin (Gun Yam, Iron Buddha, Buddha of
Mercy, Chinese Oolong) and Phoenix teas in the
refrigerator. As a result, these teas will
actually improve in flavour over time but
beware that once you have stored a tea in a
fridge, you cannot then store back on a shelf
or the tea flavour will diminish rapidly. Do
not use this technique if you do not have
airtight containers or the tea will absorb
every odour in your refrigerator and ruin your
Pu Erh Tea (Bow Lay in Cantonese) mellows
quickly and the flavour develops dramatically
when kept in an unglazed clay jar, preferably
in a cool dry place with little temperature
fluctuation. Younger tea is less expensive to
buy than older tea so you can buy a newer tea
you like and keep it for many years. If you
are keeping new tea for many years, keep it in
a clay jar and when ready to drink, break it
up into small pieces and store in a clay jar.
This is called “waking up the tea” and the
flavour will begin to develop more rapidly. If
a clay jar is not available, a cardboard box
or paper bag will do but make sure these have
no odours from the manufacturing.
For a full discussion on storing Pu-erh tea,
see our guide How
To Store Pu-erh Tea by Daniel Lui.
The smoked varieties of Da Hong Pao Tea
improve with age when kept in a glazed
porcelain jar in a cool, dry place with little