Storing Coffee and Tea

How to keep your favorite morning beverage ingredients fresh and delicious.

Coffee and Tea© iStockphoto/Thinkstock
Tips for Coffee

1. Buy whole beans
Experts and coffee connoisseurs agree that the only way to prepare a decent cup of Joe is to buy beans whole and grind them immediately before brewing. Oxygen causes coffee to lose flavor rapidly, and pre-ground coffee has far more surface area for oxygen to come in contact with.

2. Buy the right amount
As with most things we consume, when it comes to coffee, fresh is best. Coffee purveyors recommend only buying what you’ll use within a week or two, and within a month at max. If you don’t brew coffee regularly, don’t buy a full pound and expect it to still taste good two months later.

3. Keep it dry, cool, and airtight
Coffee has four enemies: air, moisture, heat, and light. To protect your beans, remove them from their original packaging and store them in a container that is airtight and opaque, away from heat and humidity.

3. Freeze long term for up to a month
If you have more coffee than you’re going to use within a couple of weeks, separate the excess into small freezer bags and seal them as airtight as possible. Store them in the freezer for no longer than a month.

Tips for Tea

1. Keep it dry
Like coffee, tea and moisture do not mix. When they do, they produce an unpleasant result called mold. Keep your tea (loose or bagged) mold-free by storing it in an airtight container away from moisture. Never store tea in the refrigerator.

2. Protect it from light, heat, and air
Tea leaves are just that: leaves. Just like the leaves out your window that fall from trees to the ground in autumn, when tea leaves are exposed to elements like light, heat, and air they lose their color and, along with it, their flavor and potential health benefits. Never store tea out in the open or in a glass or plastic container. Opt for an airtight and opaque storage unit and keep it someplace cool and dry (i.e., not above the stove or next to the sink).

3. Store it away from odors
Tea, whether loose or bagged, has a tendency to absorb the odors surrounding it. Next to the strong smelling herbs and spices or in the same cabinet with the dish soap is not where you want to keep your tea. Storing tea in an airtight container will protect against absorption of powerful odors, but do your leaves a favor and keep them away from the more pungent items.

See also: Ending the Great Debate on Condiment Storage
Sources: National Coffee Association of the USA,, Home and Garden Ideas

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Originally Published in Reader's Digest