Anyone who is serious about maintaining a family healthy without the use of medications (to the greatest extent possible) will, over time, become well educated in the use of herbs. To achieve this objective, having prior experience or training as a herbalist is not required.
It simply occurs due to the inherent requirements of the situation! Having said that, shopping for high-quality herbs in bulk and medicinal tea in loose form is a costly exercise. In order to protect this significant investment, you must keep this valuable plant material with the utmost caution so that it retains its efficacy for the time when you will use it the most.
In my medicine cabinet and tea drawer, I have well over a dozen different medical teas and herbs that are sold in bulk. Some of them I use frequently, most frequently for cooking but sometimes just for fun. Others are put away for extended periods of time without being utilized (happily!) unless a specific illness or disease manifests itself.
I take care of all of them in essentially the same way, regardless of how often I use each one of them. This contains fresh sticks of cinnamon and other herbs that have not yet been ground into a powder.
There is nothing more frustrating than realizing that a dish or a particular occasion requires a specific herb, only to find out that the herb’s strength is insufficient to meet the requirements of the situation.
Here are some suggestions for keeping your herbal medicine cupboard in good shape!
Minimize Exposure to Moisture
Herbs sold in bulk and loose tea are particularly vulnerable to the effects of dampness. It is of the utmost importance that the room in which they are stored have a relative humidity of 55 or below at all times. The alternative of a humid and damp cellar is not a good one.
I spend the most of the year in a climate that is characterized by high levels of humidity where I live in Central Florida. In a setting like this, having constant access to air conditioning is an absolute requirement. If you don’t have air conditioning and live in a humid location, it is highly recommended that you purchase very tiny quantities of the herbs you use and change them every few months.
Herbs in Bulk and Loose Tea Should Never Be Kept in Well-Lit Areas.
Herbs actually lose some of their original color when exposed to light, regardless of whether the light is coming from natural or artificial sources. When the color is lost, the potency also decreases.
The optimal location for storage is within a dark closet, cabinet, or chest of drawers where the door is not opened very frequently.
The Management of Temperature Is Crucial
The ideal temperature range for preserving medicinal teas and herbs is between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit (18 and 24 degrees Celsius).
If the temperature in your house and storage rooms fluctuates by more than one or two degrees outside of this range due to seasonal changes, you should think about using air conditioning and heating in order to maintain the temperature as consistently as possible.
Containers for Storing Things
As was just discussed, the best places to store loose teas and herbs in bulk are in a cool, dark cabinet or pantry. Airtight containers are an absolute necessity when dealing with individual herbs. Even at low humidity levels, prolonged exposure to air is harmful.
If the herb or tea was packaged in a sealed, opaque bag (such as the ones sold by Frontier), you should transfer it to a closed glass jar (preferably one made of dark glass), a metal tin with a top that fits tightly, or any other sort of airtight canister. Putting the bag inside of a heavy-duty ziplock so that it can be securely resealed once it has been opened is another strategy that has worked for me.
Ferment Them Herbs!
You also have the option of fermenting fresh herbs and/or making herbal infusions if it is difficult for you to regulate the parameters discussed above because of where you now live and the circumstances of your living environment. The potency will not only be preserved, but also improved through the process of fermentation thanks to the addition of both probiotic and enzymatic components.
How Long Does the Shelf Life of Loose Tea and Bulk Herbs Remain?
If you adhere to all of the recommendations presented above, the shelf life of your bulk leafy herbs should be between between eight and twelve months. The longevity of denser plant stuff such as roots and bark will be closer to one and a half years. About two years is the average shelf life for loose tea.
It may be tempting to purchase a large bag of a particular herb or tea in order to save money; however, it is more prudent to purchase only the amount that you will consume within a given time period; otherwise, you will wind up wasting money because you will end up throwing the unused items away anyway.
When it comes to freezing and thawing herbs and loose teas, I have not had very much success. The easiest approach to handle them is to store them correctly while maintaining a temperature of room temperature.