Briefly About Japanese Teas
Japan's tea history goes back to the 12th century when tea was first introduced from China by Buddhist monks. Thanks to its interesting flavor and undeniable health benefits, tea soon became popular with nobles and the samurai class. Eventually, the Japanese tea ceremony was formed. With time, tea traditions were simplified, and the drink became available to the masses.
Today Japanese teas are renowned around the world for their fresh, grassy taste, and unmistakable umami. Because of these favorable qualities, Japanese tea also requires extra care when storing.
Tips For Japanese Tea Storage
Unlike oxidized teas like oolong, black tea, and pu-erh, green tea is among the least processed. Tea farmers work hard to preserve the fresh taste and vibrant green color. This is especially true in the case of Japanese green teas, which have a relatively short shelf life.
Japanese green tea is widely sought out for its freshness. Especially shincha, the first harvest of the year, often gets sold out before it even has a chance to hit the markets.
While certain tea varieties, like pu-erh, can be bought in bulk and stored for long periods, we recommend doing the complete opposite with Japanese green teas (and all green teas in general).
Try only to purchase the amount of green tea or matcha that you are sure you can consume within a few months.
The best way to store Japanese green tea is in a container that is:
- not clear or made out of glass
- just the right size for the amount of tea (to avoid any extra air)
Japanese tea leaves quickly lose their freshness once they come in contact with certain variables like temperature, oxygen, humidity, and light.
It is ok to store the tea in the container both in its original packaging and without. In Japan, tea is typically stored in a container called a chazutsu, which is made from stainless steel. Other materials, such as tin, copper, and ceramic aren’t uncommon choices.
Japanese tea harvest season usually begins in late April and last till early October. (Read more)
Should I Keep Japanese Green Tea In The Fridge?
We recommend keeping your unopened Japanese teas in the fridge. After opening, however, it should be kept in a cool, dark place outside of the refrigerator.
When taking a new package of tea out of the fridge, it is best to allow a few hours for it to get back to normal room temperature, to avoid condensation. (For this same reason it is a smarter idea not to store opened tea packages in the fridge).
Tea farmers will sometimes store large amounts of tea in the freezer. This can be a good idea if you are sure you won’t drink the tea anytime soon, or if you bought a large amount, and would like to preserve part of it. It is essential, that when taking your tea out of the freezer allow time for it to get back to normal room temperature.
Unopened Japanese green tea kept in the fridge will stay fresh for one year since the packaging date.
How To Store Matcha Green Tea?
Since matcha is a ground powder, it has a more considerable amount of surface area that has come in contact with air. After opening your matcha powder, it is best to use it as soon as possible and store it in a cool dark place, ideally under 68F (20C).
The top 3 rules for keeping your Japanese tea fresh and full of umami:
- Refrigerate unopened tea until ready to drink (up to 1 year)
- Keep it away from light, heat, odors, and moisture; in an airtight container
- Enjoy within three months
To learn more about Japanese teas, click here.