How to Store Loose Leaf Tea

vintage loose leaf tea storage
Diana L

Flavor is a combination of smell, taste, spiciness, temperature, and texture. Much of the flavor of your favorite tea comes from smell, in fact, studies show that 90% of what is perceived as taste is actually smell. When tea is not stored properly, the flavor can deteriorate leaving your tea tasting dull. Learn what containers to use to properly store your teas so they remain fresh and flavorful.

What happens to tea that is not properly stored?

Loose leaf tea when not stored properly can transform turning a darker color, go stale or accumulate impurities that alter the flavor and aroma. From the time the leaves are picked, the tea starts a very slow deterioration process.

What is meant by deterioration? A big part of it is referring to oxidation. Some teas such as green teas, yellow teas, and some white teas are prized for their lack of oxidation. During processing, oxidation is actually prevented, and for this reason, they continue to oxidize over time.

However, some teas are allowed to oxidize during production such as black teas and some oolongs. These teas will have much less potential for continued oxidation and much harder to notice a change in the flavor. 

how to store loose leaf tea

Why is Loose Leaf Tea Storage Important?

Choosing the right loose leaf tea container is essential to controlling the longevity of your tea. Here are four factors that can affect the quality of your tea:


Damage from light can create a metallic flavor in your tea.

Sudden changes in temperature can also damage your tea, so avoid storing your tea in cabinets near your stove/oven.

Environmental odors

Tea leaves absorb the fragrances of their surroundings. Tea stored in a small cabinet near other items such as coffee, garlic, or other strong spices can absorb those aromas. Tea stored in the refrigerator or freezer can also absorb odors from other food products, so this is not a good idea. The same goes for storing tea near fragrant items such as any scented candles.

Also, be sure to choose a storage container that doesn't have any inherent aroma itself such as a wooden or plastic container. Storing loose leaf tea in a plastic container can also allow odors to be absorbed through the plastic. Remember, you want a pantry that smells like tea, not the other way around.


Ok, think about this. We put tea leaves in water. As the tea begins to steep, it releases the flavors you're waiting to enjoy into the water. Would you really want your tea to start “steeping” before you're ready to drink it? 

Because tea can absorb moisture even from the air, an air-tight tea canister is the best way to block out moisture. Make sure you always use utensils that are clean and dry before taking a scoop of tea. The smallest bit of moisture on a spoon can cause mold and ruin your tea.

Throw out any tea that shows signs of mold. A pungent smell, fuzzy white growth, or leaves that are soft instead of dry are signs that your tea has mold. Moldy tea leaves are ruined and no longer something you want to ingest. 


A container of tea that is nearing empty will deteriorate faster than a container full of tea. The more tea in the container, the less oxygen that can take up space, and less air also makes it more difficult for other aromas to be absorbed. 

how to store loose leaf tea

Tea Storage Tips

Storing tea for better shelf life doesn't have to be over-complicated. Use an air-tight tea canister to store your tea and keep it in a dark, cool, dry place away from other strong odors that could contaminate the tea. 

If you purchased your tea in a paper bag, do not leave your tea in this container for more than 30 days. Paper does not protect the tea from moisture and odors and can cause your tea to deteriorate quickly.

If your tea came in resealable packaging with a food-safe lining such as tea purchased from Tealeavz, your tea is already protected for you to enjoy!

When transferring your tea from the original packaging, we suggest using tea canisters or aluminum tins that have an airtight lid. Ceramic containers also work as long as they have an airtight lid.

Avoid clear glass jars. Colored glass is better as it helps filter out the light, but either way, you will need to store your tea in a dark and cool location. Also, avoid purchasing any tea that is sold in a glass or plastic container. How long has this tea been on the shelf and has likely already begun the degradation process? 

If your favorite storage container doesn’t have an airtight lid, place your tea in a sealable bag inside your container. 

Store your loose leaf tea properly to keep your tea fresh for many cups of delicious tea to come!

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