Tea and coffee are two sides of the same coin. Though completely different – one is a leaf and another a bean, for starters – the appreciation accorded to these two mighty beverages is staggering. Almost the entire world consumes either of the two or both.
Tea has the edge globally but the coffee culture is gaining ground especially among the youth. How long it'll take for it to trump tea is anyone's guess but for now, the world is content just to have these two beverages diligently produced for our consumption.
Both tea and coffee are perishable commodities. Tea can last for up to a year (packaged) or more though its flavor is lost over time. Coffee, on the other hand, can last from three months to 20 years (instant coffee). Once opened, both beverages are prone to spoilage so storing them correctly and consuming them within a short period is important.
Tea storage and care
As tempting as it is to display your brand of fine flavored and expensive tea, exercise caution because air robs tea of its unique flavor while exposure to light strips it of its color. You may be keen on storing choice leaves in a clear glass jar but know that as light hits the container it's likely to dull the color and affect its flavor for the worse.
Tea leaves are extremely fragile and moisture is their single biggest enemy. Mold can develop and decay will follow suit shortly. Refrigeration is, thus, a no-no because the constant opening and shutting of the door causes humidity levels to fluctuate.
Tea leaves are also susceptible to changing their aroma so avoid storing them near strong-smelling commodities. The best way to protect them and increase their shelf life is to place them in tins or special tea caddies under constant temperature and humidity away from light, moisture, air, and strong-scented goods.
If you're purchasing tea in bulk, take out only a small amount and store it in a tin/caddy. Place the bulk in a container designed for storing tea.
Coffee storage and care
Coffee is even more aromatic than tea which means it's liable to become flavorless once it loses its aroma. Instant coffee may last for years but most drinkers prefer grounds or beans. In this case, it's best to purchase only small amounts of coffee at any one time. Like tea, coffee's scent and flavor diminish when it comes into contact with light, air and moisture.
Unlike tea, however, coffee is best stored in opaque glass or ceramic containers in a cool, dark place away from the 'enemies' mentioned earlier. If purchasing large quantities of beans and freezing is necessary, do so in airtight bags after dividing the beans into smaller portions. Try to avoid exposing them to fluctuating humidity levels. When it's time to use them, leave them to thaw and grind them. Don't return the thawed grounds to the freezer and use them within two weeks to retain aroma and flavor.
Tea and coffee are delicate commodities and must be treated gently. A lot rests on aroma because it directly influences taste. Color is the next aspect. As an aficionado of these two ancient plants, treat yourself to delicious cups of steaming brews by following these simple care instructions.
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