Green tea is generally accepted to be among the most fragile type of tea. As it is produced from the freshest, tiniest and youngest new buds on the camellia sinensis, and its oxidation is halted at an early stage, the finished product inevitably becomes highly vulnerable to external influences. Below, I will introduce the 4 greatest natural factors that degrade your tea rapidly, and to which it is detrimental to pay sufficient attention to in order to have longest pleasure from your tea.
Even though the oxidation of green tea has been halted early on, this doesn’t mean that the tea has become immune to oxidation. As soon as the tea comes in contact with large amounts of oxygen, the oxidation process is triggered again and your tea will turn brown and lose a large amount of flavor rapidly. In order to avoid this from happening, it is recommended that you seal your tea away in an hermetically sealable container or package.
Green Tea has been intensely dried until only 5% of their weight consists of water. When humidity is allowed to reach the tealeaf, it will quickly become absorbed. This will again trigger the oxidation of the tea, resulting in browning and loss of flavor. As humidity is usually absorbed from the humidity in the air, it is suggested to hermetically seal and store your tea. Special care is required in humid environments.
When the tea is exposed to high temperature, the catechin in the tealeaf will be enforced to oxidize, which will speed the decomposition of vitamin C and quickly turn your tea brown. Especially in hot summer months, it may be better to store your tea in the fridge or similar cooled environment.
Sunlight affects the chlorophyll in the tealeaf. By allowing natural sunlight (ultra-violet) to reach the tea, the chlorophyll in the leaves will start to oxidize and will, again, speed the growing of your tea. At the same time, this will also affect the taste of your tea. It is recommended to store your tea in a cool and dark place, or to use a light proof container for storage.
In addition to the 4 natural factors I mentioned above, I feel that it is necessary to also mention environmental odors as a threat to the freshness of your tea.
As tea is known to easily absorb doors and fragrances, it is recommended to keep it away from strong scents. When the tea absorbs an odor, it means that this door will reflect in the next brew you make from it. In order to avoid this unpleasant taste, it is again suggested to seal and store the tea where such scents cannot reach it.
Given that green tea is highly vulnerable to above-mentioned factors, how do we preserve it well in order to last longest? Below I will introduce a few preservation methods for your reference.
- Use a light proof-, hermetically sealed container.
A large variety of tea canisters and other such containers have become available. Almost all of them are designed with the purpose to block out light, air and humidity. Even though, heat may still be an issue in warm environments, storing your tea in such a canister is a great way to keep your tea fresh. Some tea also comes in re-sealable hermetic lightproof packages with an aluminum lining. Storing your tea in such a package will evenly product it from external influence.
- Store your tea in a cool and dark place. Even when you utilize such a container or package, your tea may still be vulnerable to heat. If you plan on consuming your tea rapidly, a cool and dark cupboard may be sufficient. For longer storage, a refrigerator or even a freezer is the better option.
A few notes on storing your tea in the fridge or freezer.
- Tea may absorb odors from other products in the fridge. Seal your container in an additional hermetically sealable freezer bag for ultimate protection.
- When taking the tea out of its cool location, let it adjust to the room temperature before you open it. If you open it immediately, humidity will attach to the back of the lid of the container and will affect the flavor of the tea.
Last but not least, my final recommendation is to consume green tea rapidly. The longer you leave it out after you have opened the package, the more it will degrade and when, after several months, you look forward to that delicious cup of high grade green tea, it may have lost a lot of its potential and could result in a disappointing cup of tea.
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