How do I keep my herbal teas and dried herbs fresh?  Where should I store my teas and why?

The best way to keep herbal teas fresh depends on what form they come in — fresh herbs, loose herbs and or tea bags.

Tea bags– Keep tea box closed and store in a cool dark place out of direct sunshine and heat.  Heat and sun will damage herbal quality.

Fresh herbs– If you have your own plant, just take as many leaves as you need at a time. If you bought fresh leaves at the market, keep them in their container in the fridge and or store in a glass of water and they should last a week. If making tea from fresh herbs such as peppermint, simply put some mint in a clean jar filled with water.  Use as much as needed for tea and cuisine.  Fresh peppermint will water root, meaning it will grow roots when stored in water and allow you to start a new peppermint plant you can transplant and grow in your garden or in a pot. 

Loose herbs– Store in a clean glass jars and keep out of direct sunlight. Try not to store in plastic — some herbs like turmeric will eat through plastic bags and some plastic storage containers.

What is the shelf life of my herbal teas and loose dry herbs?

The shelf life of herbal teas and loose herbs depends upon storage.   If stored correctly away from heat and sunlight, herbal teas in tea bags can be used indefinitely.   If the herbs still have clear and clean aroma (you’ll know if they don’t smell right, or don’t smell at all), your teas still have valuable benefits.

How do I know if my teas are past their prime?

A tea or herb is past its prime if the color is dull and it is lacking clear aroma. 

What can I do with my used tea bags?

Used tea bags should be squeezed to deliver every drop of herbal goodness. All tea bags can then be composted.

Note: Some tea bags, such as chamomile or green tea, can be cooled and used as eye compresses to soothe the eyes.  Lay down, close your eyes, and apply the tea bags to your eyelids for ten minutes or so.  This is helpful for puffy eyes and to soothe the mind and body.

What are the essential teas that I should have in my drawer?

A great way to approach this is to think about the variety of health benefits you want to have at your fingertips. Here are some ideas along with some herbs that match those categories (you’ll see that some herbs match multiple categories!):

Teas to:

Reduce stress and promote calm – chamomile, Tulsi-holy basil

Promote healthy digestion after lunch – chamomile, mint, spearmint, peppermint, ginger

Give you some extra focus and energy boost – mint, green tea, yerba mate, lemongrass, hibiscus

Promote a restful sleep – chamomile, lavender, passion flower

Help you when you are feeling run down and need a boost of immunity – moringa, ginger, turmeric, nettle

Help you breathe deep when you need it – eucalyptus, Tulsi -holy basil, cinnamon

Support your body when you push it to limits – turmeric, Tulsi -holy basil, hibiscus