Tea has a shelf life, which is related to the variety of tea. Different tea has different shelf life. We all know that drinking tea is good for health, but drinking expired tea not only is bad in taste, but also may be harmful to health. So how long can different tea be stored?
How to understand "shelf life" of tea?
Tea, which is essentially an agricultural product, also has a shelf life. The so-called "shelf life" can be understood as the optimal period or safe period of eating (drinking) under the premise of proper storage.
How long is the shelf life of different tea?
Usually, in addition to the post-fermented tea, some other tea in sealed package has a shelf life of 12 to 24 months; while bulk tea has a shorter shelf life, because it will absorb moisture and odour while it’s loose-packed and placed outsides in air, as a result, the tea not only losses the original tea flavor, but also is more prone to deterioration. Then, how long is the shelf life of the six major varieties of tea?
Drink green tea is mainly for its "freshness", therefore, the new tea can be drunk after being produced and placed half a month or a month. Green tea (such as China Sichuan Meng Ding Gan Lu (Sweet Dew) Chinese Green Tea and Chinese Pre-Ming Guizhou Du Yun Mao Jian Green Tea Top White Fur Tip) is non-fermented and has higher requirements for preservation. Slightly improper preservation will cause the tea to turn yellow, and then the aroma and taste will be greatly reduced. Under the condition of low temperature (3-5℃) seal, the quality of green tea usually does not change much about a year and a half.
The shelf life of green tea is the shortest, generally speaking, its shelf life at room temperature is about 1 year, but in the case of improper preservation, the tea may start to turn withered and yellow within 8 or 9 months, and the taste may change a lot. Of course, if you have a refrigerator dedicated to storing green tea, the shelf life of green tea can be prolonged to about 18 months.
Yellow tea (such as Jun Shan Yin Zhen/Jun Shan Silver Needle Loose-Leaf Yellow Tea and Anhui Huo Shan Huang Ya/Huo Shan Yellow Buds Yellow Tea) has one more process of heaping for yellowing than green tea in production process and is the most low-key tea. Yellow tea and green tea are similar in drinking time. Drinking yellow tea in the same year can better reflect its quality characteristics.
Its shelf life has not been prolonged because of the process of heaping for yellowing. The tea also had better be finished off as soon as possible within about 1 year.
White tea (such as Chinese Tea Royal King Natural Caffeine-Free Bai Mu Dan Wang/Organic Fuding White Peony King Loose Leaf and Chinese Premium White Tea Dragon Pearl/Bai Long Zhu Loose Tea) is slightly-fermented tea. The production process is simple and maintains the most original taste of tea. White tea has always enjoyed its laudatory title as "a tea within one year, a medicine after three years, and a treasure after seven years". White tea is cool in property and has no obvious drug property in the same year, so it is best to drink white tea after storing it for certain years, when its property turns warm, the taste becomes mellow, and the drug property becomes more obvious.
The longer the storage time is , the better the value and taste are. Of course, this refers to the case of proper storage. If not properly preserved, the best tea also becomes worse.
Oolong Tea (such as Chinese Feng Huang Dan Cong/Phoenix Mountain Oolong Loose Tea and Four Season Spring/Si Ji Chun Oolong Tea from Taiwan TieGuanYin (Iron Goddess of Mercy) Cultivar) belongs to semi-fermented tea. Drinking oolong tea focuses on its aroma, so drink it in the same year will gain more flavor. Because the production process of oolong tea needs the baking process, so the new tea should be placed for at least 2 months after production, then the taste can be better, and do not worry about causing internal heat after drinking it.
However, the shelf life of those oolong tea which are not baked or are slightly baked is not as long as we thought and is generally just about 18 months when typically kept in a refrigerator; while those oolong tea which are baked, such as Wuyi Rock Tea, has a shelf life of even 2 years.
Black tea (such as Natural Organic Lapsang Souchong Smoky Strong Smoke Black Tea Loose Leaf and Wild Yunnan Jin hao Golden Tips Buds Chinese Dian Hong Loose Leaf Black Tea) is a full-fermented tea, the chemical reaction of polyphenols in the fermentation process gives rise to formation of unique color, fragrance and taste of black tea.
The shelf life of bulk black tea is generally 18 months, the shelf life of black tea packed in bags is 24 months, the black tea packed in cans or with aluminum foil paper can be preserved for about 3 years, and the black tea packed in paper bags can be preserved for about two years.
Dark tea is basically post-fermented tea and has the characteristic of being more fragrant while being more aged. In a clean, moisture-proof and odourless environment, dark tea can be preserved for a long time. For example, Hunan Dark Tea, Hubei Green Brick Tea, Guangxi Liu Bao Tea, Yunnan Pu-erh Tea (such as Premium Air-Dried Yue Guang Bai Yunnan (White Moonlight Beauty) Ancient Tree Green Loose Leaf Puer/Pu-erh Tea and 150g Yunnan Mengku Iceland Village Bingdao Mountain Old Tree Pu'er Spring Tea Raw Cake) and so on, as long as stored properly, not only will not deteriorate, but also can gain higher quality.
But because dark tea is post-fermented, it has no such unlimited potential as Sheng Pu-erh Tea(such as Wild Harvest Green/Raw/Sheng Pu-erh Ancient Trees) and white tea. In general, for loose tea, the taste has reached the best after storage of three or five years; and for compressed tea, the taste will reach the best after storage of 10 or 15 years. Dark tea has the best quality after storage of about ten years, while its shelf life can reach decades.