There may well be times when you have an abundance of tea bags maybe it’s your Favourite, or you just don’t want those special green tea sachets to ‘go off’ in the cupboard. And, where preserving your tea long term might just be the answer. Maybe you just went a bit crazy at the store and bought 50lb of it on offer, because “it will save you money in the long run” right?
Can Tea Bags Be Frozen? Yes. Freezing tea is an acceptable way to keep it fresh if done correctly. Whether Tea Bags or loose leaf tea, there’s very little water content to disrupt the freezing process. Let’s look at what options and precautions you should take…
But first, have you considered all the options, such as long-term dry storage. Let’s look at how this might be your solution. And by the way, don’t assume you can Compost Your Tea Bags when they’re done either!
Storing Tea Bags
Yes, you can store Tea Bags. If they’re kept in a sealed container, preferably a sealable glass jar, or a tin, then there’s no reason they won’t stay fresh for years to come. In fact, many teas get better over time. The oil and the leaves, even over a period of years, will continue to blend and enrich the flavor. But there are exceptions…
Some teas such as Wulongs and Reds have a good stable long-term shelf life, especially Pu’erh which matures better over years (if not decades) and where storing to maturity actually forms part of the manufacturing process. Compressed into large discs called qi zi bing or Cake. You simply break a piece off when it’s time to make a brew.
Pu’erh, in particular, does not need to be sealed into long-term storage, see more on that below.
With your chosen tea to freeze, you may find the tone and layers of the tea will change over time, becoming deeper in quality and taste. So much so that when compared to a new ‘batch’ it may actually taste better and more expensive.
This, of course, may depend on how much time the tea is exposed to air. the more the oxidation process is allowed to continue the more this will potentially degrade your precious stock. open infrequently, or, separate out your stock into manageable portions. More on that below.
So you may not need to turn to freezers to keep your Earl Grey fresh. If you’re concerned about how long your tea will remain fresh, then take a look at the packaging. Or the suppliers/manufacturers’ website will often offer guidelines on storage times.
I’ve added a table on Recommended Tea Storage Guidelines so you can see how long it’s best to keep most teas in dry storage and still retain their freshness – before turning to the freeze method.
Note: Advice varies in so many ways on this subject, so keep in mind this is a general guide only. So, for example, for black tea, we would expect a good year, but it can be up to two years. Green could be up to 8 months and so on.
How to Freeze Tea – 12 Do’s and Don’ts
- Watertight Containers
- Avoid Odours
- Avoid Light
- Avoid Heat
- Be Clean
- Freeze In Batches
- Store Once, Use Once
- Don’t think too Long-Term
- Date it
- Wait Before Using
- Compost it Appropriately
- Regarding Pu’erh
Now let’s look at these in more detail…
If you’re thinking of freezing tea in its raw form, then there are some methods and precautions you might want to observe in the process – whether it’s tea bags or loose leaf tea, green or black, the same mostly applies. If you want to Freeze Brewed Tea, that’s a different matter!
1. Watertight Containers
As mentioned, tea freezes surprisingly well, mainly due to a lack of moisture that can affect the cell structure of the leaves. Therefore, make sure you first seal the tea in a watertight container before freezing. Certainly, don’t chuck your cardboard box of tea bags in the freezer and slam the door. The condensation in the freezer will be absorbed into the tea. After the thawing process takes place the result will be soggy, insipid tea.
Do not pack the tea into containers too tightly, but try and ensure there’s as little air in there as possible. Where possible, if freezing in a freezer bag of some form, then try to squeeze out as much air as possible – without crushing the contents!
2. Avoid Odours
Storing in an open container will also enable them to absorb other odors in the fridge. You may end up with soggy curry-flavored tea – and a ruined batch of your favorite Oolong!
3. Avoid Light
We know that light has some effects on tea, we’re not sure what but studies show that metallic changes can take effect when exposed to light, remember this if storing in any transparent or translucent containers.
4. Avoid heat
Heat is used as part of the Oxidisation process, so avoid putting it anywhere that is likely to be exposed to any substantial heat source prior to freezing?
5. Be Clean
Ensure any containers are clinically clean before beginning this process. Tea as a plant. When exposed to the air, it will continue the oxidization process. So just like any other plant, will begin to decompose or develop mold spots. So minimizing exposure is key. Likewise, you don’t want to introduce any microbic elements that can accelerate this process.
6. Freeze Tea In Batches
If you have a large portion of tea or lots of teabags, break up those larger portions into more user-friendly ones. Freezing in 50gram containers and using one at a time is better than opening up a 1lb bag each time and letting moisture in. The tea will only lose its freshness each time it’s opened.
7. Store Once, Use Once
Avoid re-freezing. Freshness will decline each time and more moisture is likely to be absorbed and destroy the cell walls of the leaves.
8. Don’t think too long-term
Try to avoid storing for more than 12 months. Just buy what you know you will use. Apart from anything else, why spend money freezing something you’re unlikely to use in the short term.
Like most other frozen food types you should not freeze them indefinitely. Tea will lose its freshness naturally over time, so (unless it’s Pu’erh) it makes sense to only buy what you’re likely to use over the course of a year. Any longer and you could be losing the original quality that you purchased.
9. Date it
Adding a date of freezing helps you to keep a record of how long the tea has been frozen. Keep an occasional check to make sure you’re not storing any batches for too long.
10. Wait Before Using
Once taken out of the Freeze it’s not really ideal to use them straight away, there will be a lag between them exiting the freezer and thawing. Allow them about 20 minutes at room temperature before you use them. Then you’re good to go!
11. Compost it
Avoid just throwing away any teas you decide to discard. And by the way, if I didn’t mention it before then I’d consider throwing away any teas older than a year. Unless it’s a maturing Pu’erh, or unless you know for sure the taste is the same as it was. It’s possible it will be past its best and degrading in taste anyway. However, generally speaking – Don’t Compost Tea Bags.
12. Don’t freeze Pu’erh
Unlike its more ‘processed’ cousins, Pu’erh is a more natural tea so it will last far longer when not frozen anyway. Pu’erh has matured over time anyway, for up to a hundred years or more before even being sold, so there’s an argument that your Pu’erh will only taste better over time anyway and freezing will only be detrimental to that maturing stage.
So just ensure you keep it (Pu’erh) dry, allow it some natural airflow, but keep away from strong odors or other influences and keep it in one ‘cake’ piece. Breaking pieces off will allow the under layers to continue their stage of maturity.
To bring this to a close, there are 1500 different varieties of tea, some more delicate than others. So each should be treated in different ways.
Although we’ve provided a guide here, we’re not suggesting you check your tea moisture levels daily, or rock it to sleep each night. Just to take note of the above guidelines and add a dose of common sense.
This article should also answer questions like how should Tea Bag be stored. Do Tea Bags go bad or expire can you save tea bags or how long can you keep teabags.
As well as how to store Tea in general and in particular, can you keep teabags in the fridge or freezer? Ok point made! But Hopefully along the way we’ve simply provided some creative ways to store tea bags!
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