Silica gel packets to keep tea fresh longer?
A few times I have ordered tea from certain stores and the tea contained a silica gel packet.
I have some teas that I would really like to keep fresh for as long as possible. Would it be a good idea to buy silica gel packets and put them in the tin with the tea? Is there anyone that already does this? If this is a bad idea, please tell me why.
I don’t really have a good answer, but my first instinct was to cringe when thinking of putting one of those packets in with my tea. I’m kind of a purist when it comes to tea and I wouldn’t want the silica gel to affect the quality of the tea, not that I have any evidence that it would… just doesn’t seem right to me. It could work though, I dunno…
Silica gel is usually odourless, tasteless and non toxic. So I would say they are not going to chance teas flavour in any way. Still they can be irritating if you swallow them by accident. Still some silica gel may be treated with carsinogenic chemicals, but if you are sure that your silica gel balls are ‘clean’ I don’t see problem with it.
SOO… what Silica Gel’s function is basically it’s a desiccant. Which means it absorbs the moisture and helps keeps things dry. You can see how this can be advantageous for tea.
It only really works in a sealed environment and is useful only up to a point. They only can absorb so much moisture. Most vendors include these things especially if the package is something that will go bad if exposed to moisture. Usually I find them with jerky, or shoes. I’ve also worked with loose silica pellets in a laboratory environment.
If you live in a low to normal humidity environment and keep your teas away from air/moisture, there’s no reason to ‘need’ to include desiccant in a tea tin. It is as Riimu said, odorless, tasteless and non toxic. Just make sure the packet is in good shape, and don’t eat it. If you’re buying just the Silica, I recommend getting pellets that come pre-packaged in permeable packets. If they say ‘food-grade’, even better.
What’s bad about it: keeping the environment moisture free can help prevent tea going bad because of a high humidity environment, but it won’t stop your teas from going stale. Some teas are more time sensitive and it won’t matter about how dry your keep them. I’m not an expert in tea processing, but excessive dryness may even alter a tea’s chemistry unfavorably. Some teas (pu erh, etc) need moisture for certain reasons that I won’t get into because I don’t know enough about it.
In my humble opinion, it’s not a particularly bad idea, but I personally probably wouldn’t do it unless my teas started clumping together.