Welcome to Zee Tea

Storing & Brewing Tea


storing tea


Storing Tea

To retain great flavour for as long as possible, it is essential to store tea correctly.  The best way to do this is to store at a constant temperature in an airtight container and away from light, heat, moisture and strong odours. 


It is not advisable to keep tea in a refrigerator or freezer as opening and closing the door causes rapid changes in humidity. Also, avoid storage near areas of steam such as dishwashers or steaming kettles.  Moisture seeping can cause tea to mould and decay. 


Heat can degrade your tea.  Avoid placing in sunlight or near heat sources.


If exposed to light, over time tea leaves will lose their colour as well as their refined flavour. 


Strong odours can permeate tea very easily so avoid storing near spices or aromatic items.  It also makes sense to keep delicate teas away from scented or flavoured teas.  Also, be sure to air out any container that has been used for other foodstuffs or another tea type before use.


Ideally, it would be best to keep tea in a small airtight container for every day use and then keep larger quantities well sealed and tucked away.


If kept properly, black tea will keep for up to 2 years whilst green or white tea will remain fresh for up to 12 months.


Airtight tea tins and canisters are an effective way to store tea.  They will often have a double lid moisture seal and the material is non porous and impervious to light.

Before the Brewing

Don’t underestimate the importance of a good quality water.  If your tap water doesn’t taste good, then use filtered or bottled water.  Always use cold water and remember, water boiled for too long will be depleted of oxygen which is needed for flavour extraction.

brewing tea

Brewing Tea

Black tea and rooibos tea are robust teas that enjoy a steeping in truly boiling water whilst other teas benefit from water that is below boiling point.  Green and white tea needs to be treated gently and water temperatures of around 80°C are best. Brewing these teas with boiling water will turn green tea bitter and ruin the delicate flavour of white tea.

The trick is both not to under brew and miss out on the full flavour of a good tea nor to over brew and end up with a bitter tasting tea .  Brewing suggestions are usually noted on tea packaging but often the best results are obtained by being aware of the general rules for brewing times, and then experimenting for your own personal preference.  You may find that a particular type of tea will brew well when steeped over a longer period.  Similarly, you may get the best results by experimenting with the suggested water to tea ratio. 


Very generally, these are the rules:


White tea can be brewed anything from 2-7 minutes.  Somewhere in between probably works best.


Japanese steamed green tea such as Sencha only needs 1-2 minutes.


Chinese pan-fired green tea such as Longjing or Gunpowder are best when brewed around 3 minutes.


Oolong tea brewing times can vary substantially depending on the variety.  It is probably best to follow recommendations on the tea packaging.


Pu-erh tea will take extended brewing up to 6 minutes although this is very much a matter of preference and a lighter brew steeped for a couple of minutes can be premium to some.


Black tea is ideally brewed between 3-4 minutes. 


Rooibos tea can take brewing anything from 5 minutes and up to 10 minutes.  As rooibos doesn’t contain tannin, there is no danger of this brew turning bitter.


Herbal teas should be brewed for at least 5 minutes to draw out full flavour.


If you don’t have a thermometer handy, you will be able to tell water temperature by sight.  A rolling boil will be obvious whilst 80ºC can be gauged by judging the water just as tiny bubbles are being formed.