A few weeks ago, we published a blog post outlining the differences between our matcha tea sets. Matcha tea is one of the most historically rooted ways of drinking tea, and in many ways has remained unchanged for centuries. Matcha is the only type of tea with which the leaves are consumed directly, making it one of the most nutrient-rich ways of tea drinking, not to mention the most caffeinated.
To make matcha tea, Japanese green tea leaves are ground into a fine powder. Green tea, being one of the least processed families of tea, has a short shelf-life. Within a month of a package of green tea being opened, it begins to oxidize and the delicate flavors and aromas of the tea become less vivid over time. Matcha, being no ordinary green tea, has an even shorter shelf life. Because the leaves are ground into a powder, the surface area of the tea exposed is increased exponentially, allowing air exposure to speed up the process of oxidation. Storing matcha tea is simple and doing so correctly can make sure that it lasts as long as possible while preserving its delicate flavor and vitality. Proper storage of matcha tea can save you the hassle and headache of having to throw out and replace otherwise good tea.
Moisture can be a killer of good tea of any kind, but this is especially true of matcha tea. Storing matcha in dry conditions is essential, because any moisture introduced to the matcha can cause it to rapidly degrade and even mould. If living in a humid environment, it is recommended that you store your matcha tea in an airtight container placed in the freezer. Freezing matcha helps to prevent the introduction of unwanted excess moisture causing harm to the quality of the tea. When you need to make a cup or bowl of matcha, take the container out of the freezer, remove the amount of tea you will need, and quickly replace the container inside the freezer to avoid the tea thawing out and attracting moisture. If you’re not using the freezer method, scoop the amount of tea you will need from the container and then reseal the container before making your tea. Water droplets or steam from the tea making process could find its way into an open container, ruining the matcha. Sealing your matcha up before making tea prevents this from happening and saves your tea from being ruined by mistakes. When it comes to storing matcha, the drier it is, the better.
Another essential element to proper storage of matcha tea is maintaining a low temperature. Tea of any kind gets its flavors and aromas from the natural oils found within the tea leaves. When exposed to heat or bright light, these delicate oils can break down, causing the tea to lose its character. Particularly in green teas like matcha, the delicate and light flavors can be greatly affected by heat and light because the breakdown of oils in lighter teas are usually more noticeable than the breakdown of oils in heavier teas like those in the black tea family. Heat and light exposure to matcha during storage can cause the tea to taste stale and dull in the cup. Always keep your matcha in a cool, dark place to keep it at its best.
It’s always a great idea to make sure that the container you are using for storing your matcha is air-tight. Air exposure can cause matcha to oxidize very quickly because of the large surface area of the powder. When air is allowed access to matcha for a prolonged period of time, it works its way through the powder and begin the process of degrading the tea. When not using your matcha, keep it sealed in an airtight container for maximum shelf-life.
Some matcha drinkers may notice clumps forming in their matcha powder. While this could be a sign of excess moisture ruining your tea, if you’ve kept your tea dry, this is a normal phenomenon. In dry conditions and climates, the friction caused by the movement of matcha inside a container generates static which can make matcha form together in clumps. It is nothing to worry about as it does not at all affect the quality or flavor of the tea. Just be sure the clumping isn’t formed by moisture.
Matcha is meant to be enjoyed. After opening a container of matcha powder, it begins the process of oxidation regardless of storage conditions. Good storage practices can slow down the process, but matcha still has a maximum shelf life of around three weeks. No matter how you store it, remember to drink and enjoy it too. Following the guidelines set out in this blog post will make sure you are able to enjoy your tea without setbacks for a long time to come.