Blog 110: Storing Tea in the Refrigerator?

From the very beginning of tea-making, the storage of tea is a challenge.


Tea products like to stay in a dry, cool, and odorless environment. In a humid, hot, and chaotic condition, delicate tea leaves will gradually lose its aromas and flavors.



Storing good teas takes extra efforts. The famous Chinese art collector Mengzhen Feng (1548-1605) once recorded how he stored his precious teas: putting teas in a large jar filled with dry bamboo leaves; after tightly sealing the opening, placing the jar upside down to prevent tea leaves from getting in contact with the air.


Compared to what Mr. Feng did, tea lovers today are very lucky. Modern tea industry has developed many efficient ways to better preserve tea leaves. The most common tools are vacuum packaging, heat-sealing, dehumidifier as well as other methods to keep the storage environment dry and cool.


Keeping teas in the refrigerator is also a popular choice. Some tea lovers even believe that it’s standard to put all teas in the refrigerator.



However, it is wrong to store all teas in the refrigerator. In fact, most teas shouldn’t be put into a refrigerator at all, and some teas can even be damaged in the refrigerator.


The benefit of refrigerators is obvious. Its constant low temperature slows down food spoilage. Unfortunately, this benefit along is not enough to overcome the harm refrigerators bring to your tea.


First of all, the humidity level in the refrigerator is still too high. Humidity is a natural enemy of tea products, and it’d be most detrimental to tea products.


Secondly, refrigerators develop unpleasant foreign smell. Besides humidity, tea leaves are most vulnerable to foreign smells. In most homes, refrigerators happen to be where all foods are stored. Unavoidably, teas in the refrigerator will acquire these smells. Even if the refrigerator is dedicated only to tea storage and nothing else, it’d still grow an unpleasant smell after some time. If you have a dedicated wine or beverage refrigerator, you’d notice that refrigerators can never stay odorless.


Refrigerators do more harm to tea leaves.

Some tea lovers might say: “wait a minute, if storing teas in a refrigerator has so many disadvantages, why do people do it in the first place? Can’t they notice the bad results?”


Among all tea categories, there are actually only 2 teas need the help of refrigerators: green tea and Tie Guan Yin. (By the way, Tie Guan Yin is an oolong tea, not a green tea.)


Both teas share some similarities. Modern Tie Guan Yin is a very lightly fermented tea, and green teas are not fermented. Both teas are famous for the light refreshing taste. Because they’re unfermented, the quality of green teas and Tie Guan Yin will slowly deteriorate in room temperature.


Because of this fact, most green teas and Tie Guan Yin should be consumed within months. But if we want to delay the expiration, keeping these teas in the refrigerator can be a compromised solution. The low temperature suppresses the oxidization of tea polyphenols and prevents the dissolution of chlorophyll.


But putting green teas and Tie Guan Yin in the refrigerator still requires extreme careful packaging. If any water content infiltrates the package, it’ll still destroy the tea. Because of the demanding requirement, it’s always better to finish a tea in time than put it into storage.



Most other teas, such as white tea, oolong tea, black tea and dark tea, should never be placed in a refrigerator.


These teas are already suitable to be stored in room temperature. If stored in a refrigerator, white tea can’t age; roasted Wuyi oolong will become damp; black tea will lose aromas and tastes.


Storing teas in the refrigerator might sound rational at first. It provides a stable environment that doesn’t need our input to regulate. But in reality, refrigerators may do more harm to our precious tea. Even for green teas and Tie Guan Yin tea, if not managed carefully, they’d perish in the refrigerator as well.


We hope you enjoyed today’s blog. As always, if you have questions or suggestions, please leave a comment, tweet us @valleybrooktea or email the author directly at zhang@valleybrooktea.com. Please also follow us on Instagram @valleybrooktea and join our mail list to get our daily tea updates and our latest promotions!


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