How to store loose leaf tea
Loose leaf tea can be expensive, and if you like to keep a wide range in the cupboard, making sure you store it correctly is essential to ensure your tea is as fresh as possible, for as long as possible.
In order for tea to taste its best it needs to be kept away from heat, light, air and moisture. The best way to do this is to use an airtight container.
Unlike coffee, storing tea in the freezer will damage tea leaves, ruining the resulting brew. Even keeping tea close to a toaster will be enough heat for it to quickly lose both its scent and flavour. Loose leaf teas are very beautiful and it's tempting to display them in glass containers or canisters with a window, however even small amounts of light or UV exposure will degrade the tea leaves, meaning your tea will lose its quality.
Tea easily absorbs odours, so it's worthwhile considering what else is stored in close vicinity. Placing it near a spice rack or rubbish bin will have an impact on the teas flavour. It's important to think about the material your tea storage is made from too. Plastics absorb odours, much like tea, so if it has been previously used it may taint the leaves. Aluminium is generally acknowledged as the best material to use. Just make sure whatever you choose is suitable for food storage. The perfect, airtight tea canister will keep your tea fresh for up to a year.
How to serve loose leaf tea
If you're enjoying tea for one how you serve it is personal preference, however if you want to serve loose leaf teas to guests you could opt for a traditional Chinese ceremony, to really make the most of the tea.
The gong fu tea ceremony, sometimes known as a kung fu or Chinese tea ceremony, involves the ritualised preparation and presentation of tea. It's thought to be based on the tea preparation methods which originated in the Fujian and Guangdong regions. The term literally means "making tea with effort" and the ritual is said to maximise the taste of a tea.
In short, successive brews of loose tea are poured into small cups to be shared and appreciated. The ceremonial style is intended to focus attention and relax the mind and spirit in a shared experience. Those taking part pay close attention to the evolving taste and aroma of the tea, in turn enhancing appreciation of both the tea and the moment.