Tea Tips

Here are some useful bits of knowledge that will help make your next cup of tea great.

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How to store tea so it stays fresh

An important part of making a great cup of tea is the freshness of the tea leaf. Like all plants, the tea leaf’s chemical properties change with age. The fresher it is, the better the flavor and the more nutritious it will be. Knowing how to store tea is an important part of the tea making process that starts even before putting the kettle on.

What causes tea to loose its freshness

  • Air
  • Light
  • Heat
  • Humidity

Excessive amounts of any of those will make your tea go stale or have its flavor tainted. Much like a spice or herb loses its flavor over time, tea is just as temporal. Improperly stored teas will loose their flavor and nutrients much sooner than they need to. We hate to see that happen. That’s why we have some great tips to keep your tea nice and fresh.

Follow these tips to store your tea

So you bought some good loose leaf tea and brought it home to your kitchen. More than likely, the tea shop owner put it into a zipped bag or pouch for you. This will work great for short term storage. If you plan on drinking this tea over the next few weeks, there’s no need to worry. Keep the bag sealed tight and your tea will taste great for the next few weeks. However, if you plan on keeping your tea around for more than a few weeks, we recommend a more protective, long-term storage solution.

What to look for in a tea storage container

A good tea storage container keeps light and air away from the tea. That means an opaque material like ceramic, porcelain or clay will work better than glass or a bag with a display window. It also means that the seal of the container is key. A jar with a clamp lid and rubber stopper is a good choice, so are tight fitting tins. A twist-tie or rolled-up bag are going to let a lot of air in that will eventually steal all your tea’s flavor.

Where to store your tea

So you’ve got the tea all snug in its new storage container – now where to put it? In most cases, a dark cupboard in your kitchen should do just fine. You’ll want to make sure it isn’t near a heat or humidity source like the fridge, stove or heater. It’s also a good idea to keep the tea away from long exposure to direct light sources like windows and overhead lights.

The storage container and location both factor into the tea’s shelf life. Having your tea in a clear glass jar inside a dark cupboard is certainly better than keeping it on the counter, however, it’s not as good as an opaque container in that same cupboard.

How long to expect your tea to stay fresh

Most tea, when stored properly, will last for about a year. A lighter tea, like a white or green tea, tends to loose its freshness a bit quicker and may only stay fresh for as little as 6 months1. A darker tea like an oolong or black tea will easily keep its freshness through the 1-year mark1. There is, of course, an exception as some specialty Pu-erh teas actually improve in flavor as they age.

Hope your tea stays nice and fresh!
-Maker’s Tea

 


  1. Mary Lou Heiss and Robert J. Heiss. (2010). The Tea Enthusiast’s Handbook. New York, NY: Ten Speed Press.
Grand Prismatic Spring

How to get the right water temperature for tea

This is one of the most popular questions we hear. Getting the right water temperature for tea can be a bit intimidating.

The package says ‘heat water to 200°F’, but my stovetop doesn’t have a temperature setting. Do I need to get out a thermometer and watch the water heat up? I haven’t done chemistry since high school. 

Don’t worry, there’s an easy way to get the right water temperature for tea – it’s called the boil-and-wait method. Simply bring water to a boil then wait for it to cool to the correct temperature. You can use a kettle on the stovetop, a mug in the microwave, even a metal cup over a campfire – whatever you have around. After the water has come to a full boil (large bubbles on top of the water), remove your container from the heat. Careful – it’s going to be hot! Place it to the side and remove any cover it may have.

Now all you have to do it wait a few minutes. The time varies depending on the type of tea you’re making. Here’s a handy chart to make sure you always get it right.

Wait Time from Boil

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Wait time from boil (in minutes). Feel free to print or share.

 

Setting a timer can be a good idea, especially if you’re doing something else at the same time. We always recommend using the time to take a breath and look out the window. There’s no better time to ponder life’s mysteries then when making a cup of tea.

Just to note, these wait times are intended to be used as general guidelines. They can vary depending on your environment, elevation, and the materials used. Adjust as you see fit.

Does the water temperature really matter?

Technically you can make tea at any water temperature, but it might not turn out all that great. If it’s too hot – you’ll scorch the leaves. Too cold and you won’t get their full potential. So yes, if you’d like to get the most from your tea, it does matter. Luckily, people have been drinking tea for thousands of years and we’ve gotten a good idea of some optimal temperatures that will give you the amazing tastes and nutrients you’re looking for.

Each type of tea (Green, Oolong, etc) has a different sweet spot temperature it likes to be brewed at. Generally, the darker the tea, the hotter the water temperature used to make it. Here’s a handy chart of the specific temperatures for each type of tea. The lighter teas – white and green in particular – are more delicate and are easily damaged in very hot water. This will often result in a bitter, overly strong tea.

Best of luck getting your water temperature just right. As always, feel free to send us a note with any questions you may have. Enjoy the tea!

Bonfire

Tea Brewing Temperatures

To get a great cup of tea, it’s important to know the tea brewing temperatures. Each type of tea requires a different temperature to brew it properly. If it’s too hot – you’ll scorch the leaves. Too cold and you won’t get their full potential.

Use the chart below to find the right brewing temperature for your type of tea.

Tea Brewing Temperatures

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Temperatures in degrees Fahrenheit. Feel free to print or share.

 

A dark tea, such as a Black or Herbal tea, can withstand high temperatures. A lighter white or green tea is more delicate and will be damaged by higher temperatures. This is a result of how the tea was originally made. The more oxidized the tea is, the more tolerant to heat it becomes. Green tea is only lightly oxidized so it can’t withstand the high temperatures that Black tea can.

If you’ve ever had a green tea that left a bitter taste in your mouth, it was probably steeped in overly hot water. Green tea performs at its best at a tea brewing temperature of 175°F. Anything over that will damage the leaves and affect their flavor.

Similarly, using overly cool water will result in a weak brew and nutrients will be left in the leaf. This is most likely to happen with black or herbal teas. A successful brew gets all the flavor and nutrients out of the tea and into your cup.

So how do I get my water to that temperature? Turns out it’s not as hard as you’d think. Read our guide on tea water temperature for a quick, easy way to do it.

Best of luck getting your water temperature just right. As always, feel free to send us a note with any questions you may have. Enjoy the tea!