Do you have tins of old tea leaves that have been in your cupboard forever? Do you know how long it’s been in there for? Many of us, tea lovers, like to have variety in our tea choices at home but it’s also easy to lose track!
Traditionally, the months leading up to Chinese New Year are spent cleaning out the home; getting rid of old things to make space for the new. In Chinese, “送舊近新”.
It doesn’t have to be Chinese New Year to get cleaning, but it is always a good idea to take a look at what you have in the tea cabinet.
Here’s how you can tell if your tea should stay or go-
First thing to know- lighter teas such as green, jasmine, and lightly fermented teas have the shortest shelf life. Follow their storage instructions carefully to keep teas fresh for longer, but these will typically last 1 year maximum. On the other hand, black teas can be stored for around 2-3 years.
If you have some Pu-erh, White, or roasted Oolong teas in your cabinet, you might be in luck! These teas not only have a long shelf life, but can be aged if stored properly. The aging process can help the teas develop beautiful, complex flavours and aromas that cannot be found in fresh teas. To best age these teas, keep them dry, away from anything strongly scented, and control the air circulation by storing them with instructions.
Generally, you can also tell if a tea is still good to drink by its appearance. Dull, worn out colour and aroma is always a good sign that the tea leaves have passed its prime. When teas are stored with too much air circulation, the leaves do not react well to the temperature fluctuation and therefore, lose its character, taste, aroma, oil and nutrients.
So now you have discovered that your tea is too old, what can you do?
Don’t throw them away! Brew your old green, jasmine, and lightly fermented teas, let the liquid cool, and use them as:
- Facial toner- Tea can help balance the pH levels in your skin. Use a cotton pad to gently pat the tea over your face.
- Plant fertilizer- The remaining nutrients left in your old tea has been traditionally used to fertilize plants.
- Window washing agent- Tea’s grease removing characteristics can be used as a cleaning agent and will give your windows a beautiful shine.