Updated: Aug 29
Do you remember a time when you were served a truly awful cup of tea?
It happens to all tea drinkers at times. I remember taking my elderly mother to visit one of her friends who was notorious throughout the district for giving her visitors weak tea. It was so weak that it was almost colourless, so little flavour or aroma that it was difficult to tell whether it was black or green tea or just hot water with a drop of lemon juice.
Being of English heritage, she automatically assumed that everyone took milk in their tea. Unless you were very quick to stop her, you got a splash of milk in your cup. The only thing worse than ultra-weak black or green tea is an insipid blend of hot water and milk with an evasive hint of tea.
3 Factors Affecting The Perfect Cup Of Tea:
Tea quality is dependent on the quality of the leaf, the curing process and the care with which it is stored along the journey from tea plantation to your pantry. You don’t have control over the growing, curing or transport of the tea you buy, but you can buy good quality tea from reputable suppliers.
You can control your tea storage in your home, that is the subject of this post. We wrote about the art and science of tea brewing in this post. We have recommendations for the correct water temperatures for our teas here.
Factors Affecting Tea In Storage
Five factors will affect tea in storage and the taste of your brewed tea:
Exposure to air
All loose and bagged teas leave the plantation with a low moisture content to maintain freshness and seal in flavour. After opening the packet, tea can absorb moisture very quickly – especially in periods of high humidity.
Even in dry climates, exposure to air will degrade your tea and affect its taste.
To keep your tea fresh, it should be stored in an airtight container away from sources of moisture. It’s not a good idea to keep your tea on a shelf above the kitchen sink.
Light will also affect the quality and taste of tea. Keep your tea in an opaque container in a cupboard or closed kitchen unit.
Tea picks up odours from other foods, especially spices and vegetables with a strong smell like garlic and onions. Your tea container should not be next to your vegetable shelf or spice rack.
Excessive heat can affect your tea. Don’t leave your tea in direct sunlight or near a stove, heater or in the path of a hot airflow.
The Best Containers For Tea Storage
A plastic container with a snap on lid. A metal or ceramic storage jar with a screw cap or tight-fitting stopper all work.
Check out our recently arrived plain silver storage containers in our shop.
In days gone by, decorated “tea caddies” were popular.
Storing Leftover Steeped Tea
How often have you made a pot of tea then got distracted before drinking a cup? Or settling down to a quiet hour of reading a good book and a few cups only to get so absorbed in the book that most of the pot goes cold?
All is not lost. You can use that leftover steeped tea.
You have two choices. You can put what is left in the pot in a sealed container and store it in the refrigerator for 3 to 5 days to drink as iced tea on a hot afternoon. Remember to use a sealed container to stop the tea picking up odours from other foods in the fridge. You wouldn’t want your iced tea to taste of strong cheese or leftover pizza.
Or you can re-heat your tea. If it has only been standing for 15 minutes or less it could taste reasonably good. Longer than that and it might be too strong. The longer tea is steeped, the more tannins are released increasing the bitterness of the brew. Some teas lend themselves to being made less bitter by adding more hot water.
It's all a question of necessity. On camping trips when I have been down to my last few teabags, I have stretched them to more than one brew and reheated any leftover steeped tea. At home with a plentiful supply in the pantry and no shortage of water, I don’t re-heat the dregs of the teapot.
Are you a confirmed black tea drinker? Is green tea your preference or are you addicted to a herbal blend?
Be adventurous and try something different.
Here are this month’s recommendations for you to live a little dangerously: