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Teaspoon said

How fresh is your tea?

I got to thinking today about how fresh the tea is that we buy from vendors.Recently I bought the LAST of a vendors golden yunnan and noticed it didnt taste as “fresh” as the previous shipment I had gotten from them 4 months prior. How do we know when the new shipments arrive from the tea growers? Ive seen some teas on vendors sites with the caption “waiting on word from tea grower” on the option to purchase.How do we know when is the best freshness dates to purchase a particular tea?Are some harvest done in certain months? Is purchasing tea at the end of winter as good as purchasing it in april or may for example? Thoughts on this would be appreciated.

12 Replies

I can’t pull the seasons and all the info from the top of my head, but yes, different teas from various countries have different harvest times. It’s good to keep track of your usual teashops, and see when the new shipments come in – it’s good to talk to the employees/managers/owners.
The freshness from a particular shop also depends on how the tea is stored. Some places will prepackage the tea immediately upon arrival, so it’s in a air-tight (ideally vacuum packed) container. Others, like Teavana, will just leave the teas in large tins, to be opened and reopened every time someone wants to smell or buy the tea. This method basically devalues the tea a bit with each purchase by letting in air, light, and any aromas from the room, so the first purchase will be better than later ones.

If you’re really striving for fresh, though, your best bet would be to go to the country of origin during the harvest, and get the stuff right after processing :P

Cofftea said

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Teaspoon said

Thats great information. I hadnt thought about how companys package their tea as orders come in….something to think about, or at least inquire about.It would be convientant if companys put batch numbers or something on their tea.Ive often thought that when a tea is reviewed including the particular vendor for example if I ordered it say 7 months after the review if I would be recieving the same tea that got reviewed,or would the next harvest be as good? I guess its a good idea to do your reasearch if you want the freshest tea.How long do you suppose most tea vendors keep their tea on the shelf? Is their a expiration standard for the industry?

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Teaspoon, how does your yunnan gold taste? I am a little surprised a yunnan gold product can change this much over a few months. I don’t sell yunnan gold, but my personal yunnan gold was bought in 2007 and it is still as tasty as it was 2 years ago. Most black teas can last very well. Probably your seller switched their source in the past months?

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Back to the original questions in the OP… I think all tea drinkers should be encouraged to ask their sellers the harvest time, and all sellers should be encouraged to tell their sellers such information. Even if the seller isn’t sure of it, if tea drinkers keep asking, the seller will realize she had better get the information from the wholesaler or supplier.

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Teaspoon said

Since my vendor told me it was their last couple of ounces until the new shipment came in, I doubt they had switched harvests in the four months since I had ordered. I should have waited for the new batch but since it was such a small amount ,and my favorite, and I was completely out I went ahead and got the order.But It tasted weaker than usual and “flat”. Since I drink this particular tea so often it was noticeable.You as a vendor Gingko keep your teas for how long before you consider them expired? And are yours resealed after shipment from the supplier?

Oh that’s a bit mysterious. If this is your long term vendor, maybe you can communicate with them and very likely they want you to be happy with their tea.

I personally will take 1 year as the shelf life for green tea and greener style oolong. Theoretically most of them can last 18 months or more. But after new harvest comes, nobody would want to buy the green tea of last year. Black tea and darker oolong, I think can last much longer. Since we are very small business, we don’t stock up a lot of tea for each type. For oolongs, since there are generally 2-3 harvests a year, we use very conservative sales estimation. If there is a gap, it won’t be long till the next harvest. For greens, we try not to re-order from the supplier during the year (so that we can control the storage conditions), so some tea will run out, some will be left at the end of the year. Last spring we gave generous discounts on the green teas and this year we sent have started giving green teas as gifts to our mail list subscribers who are returning buyers. In this way, we won’t have to worry about expired teas. Most of our teas are sealed by our suppliers in 250g-300g mylar bags, so for each type of tea, there is only 1 bag opened at each time, and this 1 open bag will be resealed with a hot pad sealer if we predict it doesn’t have to be opened again in few days. Some oolong teas are sealed in 7g vacuum bags. Overall I think green tea is tough business. You can never be too careful about it. Black tea and traditional style oolong tend to be much more stable.

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Teaspoon said

Thankyou for all that information.Its great that you care about the freshness of your product to the customer and arent wasteful (makes good business sense too) . My next purchase I want to try a green tea and the one im interested in says “waiting on tea grower”, so when I see its ready to be ordered I will know its fresh.Again, thanks for your sharing of how you do business, I wish more tea vendors would include that information on their websites.

i have to say having ordered from Life In teacup the lovely little packages they arrive in are nice and sealed and the leaves are very fresh, not flat tasting at all, all that work does pay off for the customers (now i just need to stop oversteeping the poor things)

You are welcome, Teaspoon! Just several years ago many people wouldn’t care or ask about tea harvest information. But nowadays tea drinkers averagely have more books and information sources. It will be a good thing if demand of tea drinkers help set the industry standards.

AmazonV, thank you so much for your kind comments! We will always try to do our best!

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Grinnyguy said

This is one of those threads that fulfils an ‘everything I wanted to know about…’ desire. I know that I am still enjoying tea that I bought two years ago, but I don’t remember how it was at the start to see how much it has changed. Thank you for all of your information

I know! I love how much I learn from Steepster!!

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