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5 tips for storing tea, coffee and chocolate

How do you store tea, coffee and chocolate? This article presents you with 5 tips for the pantry. Preserve your tea and coffee as long as possible to enjoy the products as they are meant to be enjoyed.

It looks lovely: tea in glass jars on the kitchen counter. No better way to keep an eye on your beautiful loose leaf teas. However, an abundance of light is deleterious to tea. Its best to store your tea without too many shifting temperatures, too much light, too much moisture and too much air. You'll read tips and tricks for ultimate product preservation below!

1) Amount: not too much

Don't buy too much tea in one go. Its easy to stock up on tea and forget that some of them are growing stale. The same goes for coffee: it's better to buy too little than too much in one go. Coffee is a fresh product. The beans start losing their flavor in about 6 to 8 weeks. By then, the coffee will already have lost its original aromas.

2) Temperature: keep it constant

You have probably seen the white bloom on chocolate after it's been out for a while. This is often the result of changing temperatures. This bloom is harmless, but the other result of exposure changing temperatures is a change in flavor. The intensity of the flavors lessens and the chocolate's texture becomes brittle. This phenomenon is known as 'fat bloom' and it works like this: when chocolate melts, the cocoa butter crystals change from stable beta 5, a fat that gives the chocolate shine and smoothness, to beta 1 to 6. These crystals are unstable and cause the well-known white bloom. It can look a little moldy, but its just a change in fatty crystals. The chocolate is still edible.

Thee en koffie bewaren in glazen potten maakt je voorraadkastje overzichtelijk, maar zorg er wel voor dat er geen licht bij komt.

3) Light: it's better not to

Sunlight bleaches tea leaves and coffee beans, stripping them of scent and flavor. It's better not to keep tea and coffee beans in glass jars or transparent containers. The exposure to UV causes your product's quality to rapidly deteriorate.

The same goes for chocolate. We might add that the heat of light might cause your chocolate bar to melt.

4) Moisture: keep it dry

When chocolate gets wet, you might be confronted with the phenomenon of 'sugar bloom': your chocolate bar displays a white bloom because the bar's sugars have migrated to the surface as a result of a moist environment. The bar is edible, but it won't be as delicious as it should be. Sadly, its sugars are not as evenly spread throughout the bar as before.

  • One exception is Pu-Erh tea. This fermented tea can be stored in a slightly moist spot to allow it to further ripen. You can place the tea in a box made of wood or another slightly porous material.

5) Air: leave oxygen and scents out of the equation

Oxygen speeds up oxidation. When you take a bite out of an apple, this spot will soon darken and taste less fresh. Tea oxidizes in a similar manner. Black tea is fully oxidized, green tea has not been oxidized or only a little and oolongs are somewhere in the middle. Do you possess a green tea or an oolong? Keep it in an environment with as little oxygen as possible. A green tea that oxidizes further has a flat taste and can take on a greyish colour.

A fresh sencha (left) versus an oxidized sencha (right) that has spent too much time in the open air.

It's not a great idea to store tea, coffee, or chocolate in the vicinity of other products with a strong scent. Tea, coffee and chocolate absorb scents from their environments. One example is the creation of jasmine teas. To create Jasmine Pearls, jasmine blossoms are placed next to the tea leaves. The leaves absorb the jasmine flavour, but the actual flowers don't have to be added to the tea and are not present in the final product.

Which storage method do I choose?

Now you know not to buy too much tea in one go, to keep the temperature at a constant level, and to avoid air, moisture and light. You'll find an overview of "don'ts" below.

❌ Unsuitable storage methods

  • Packaging with viewing windows. While they may look pretty and are quite handy, this type of packaging lets in the light.
  • The same goes for glass jars, except when you place them in a kitchen cupboard or another type of dark place.

✅ Suitable storage methods

  • Tins with an aroma closure (double lid). The double lid ensures that you press the air out of the tin when closing it and keeps moisture out as well. Choose a tin without a viewing window to prevent light from reaching the product inside.
  • Vacuum packaging
  • Insulating packaging, especially for chocolate. Think bubble wrap or a sealable box made of food-safe styrofoam. Wrapping the product in tinfoil is also effective.

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