After the purchase of a valued Chinese tea, the first thing to take into consideration is proper storage. Tea is vulnerable to four spoilers: air, light, heat and moisture. It will lose its flavor and aroma quickly if stored improperly. Even some merchants make the mistake of using unsuitable storage by keeping tea in clear glass containers for reasons of aesthetics, but light alone can steal the freshness. Also, don’t count on some of the fancy, single-top covered tins which might look great but do not seal tightly enough to be effective. Tea kept in such tins will run the risk of getting stale and losing its aroma, or absorbing odors from spices, cooking - even other teas.
Unless you plan on consuming your Chinese tea quickly after purchase, we recommend investing in a good, fully-protective container. The best ones we have found are sturdy ceramic canisters with rubber-trimmed latches. They close airtight, are odorless, functional and if made well, will last a long time. The next best solution is double-lid or pry-top tins.
Stored properly, your carefully selected collection of fine black teas and oolongs will keep their character for well over a year. Green teas lose their qualities faster and should be served within 6 to 12 months after they are produced (with the exception of tightly rolled green teas.
To keep things simple and without sounding too serious, we recommend keeping the tea in small, thin plastic bags within the tea tins that are available here at Golden Teahouse or any tins or glassware you can find at home. The less contact the leaves make with any air, the longer they will last. The great exception being pu-erh cakes of tea, which we recommend leaving out for however long you wish.