I was going through my tea cabinet the other day, determined to weed out anything getting remotely old, wanting to consolidate tins and boxes where I could. As with spices, checking your code dates and rotating product on a regular basis is a good practice. Often I am asked, “how long can I keep tea?” I don’t keep tea over one year old. Most of the teas I purchase have open code dating on them, so it is easy to keep track of what’s fresh and what’s not. Some have two year shelf lives, but still, I attempt to go through them within a year. The fresher they are, the more flavor they have. Just get rid of old bags and varieties that have been sitting in your cupboard forever…(usually those are the weird flavored herbals that are left behind from some variety box you got ages ago.) My mom, Betty’s, rule…”when in doubt, throw it out.”
There are approximately eight types of tea that I like to keep on hand. They are listed at the end of this post. Pictured here…my kitchen tea cupboard…I keep taking over shelves with tea.
What’s not shown in the above photos are my absolute favorite morning teas…I order them by the pound from either Mighty Leaf or Harney & Sons…organic assam and organic breakfast are my ultimate favorites for morning tea…with milk.
After years of research and getting overwhelmed by the hundreds of tea varieties out there…here are the ones I keep in my house.
1. Breakfast tea…organic Assam or organic breakfast…leaf tea
2. An Earl Grey…find one you like. I love Mighty Leaf’s (as does my daughter) and Tea Forte’s is delicious w/ a touch of cornflower leaves in it.
3. Organic Ceylon (for your best black iced tea).
4. Jasmine Downey Pearls (green tea)…love Peet’s, Mighty Leaf or Harney & Sons…the fragrance is a relaxing, healing elixir
5. A good oolong…such as rare Ti Quan Yin
6. Japanese green tea…sencha (grassy green) or Genmaicha (popcorn tea)
7. Masala Chai…just an excellent spicy tea that goes with fall desserts so well….I don’t put sugar in my chai ever, but many like it with sugar…
8. Your favorite Rooibos infusion (the African red bush tea) – naturally no caffeine and lots of healthy attributes
I also enjoy Darjeeling, the champagne of tea (as does my husband)…I keep a couple of those on hand. I do try different teas now and then and strongly encourage you to find ones you love. My list is distilled down from years of tasting scores of infusions. I am quite boring when it comes to tea and now prefer “pure teas”…not so much “flavored” teas. But the fun is trying a bunch and finding what you like. My sister loves fruity teas…we had a delicious one this afternoon at Starfish Restaurant in Laguna Beach…an acai oolong from Revolution tea. It was perfect with our Asian food choices.
When buying tea, look for suppliers you like and can trust…go organic when possible and whole leaf/full leaf for more flavor and health benefits. And….check the codes of the teas in your cupboard! If you can’t remember when you got that tea…it might just have exceeded it’s life 🙂
Drink tea…and enjoy trying different types. Tasting different teas is a fun journey that now and then surprises you while lighting up your tastebuds.