Ask the Dietitian: Nutrient Loss

Jessica Jones-Hughes
September 21, 2010
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I get more excited about drinking hot tea when I remember that each warming sip is packed with antioxidants. Unfortunately though, those delicate tea leaves are very sensitive to air and light. For example, after six months on the shelf, an average of 32 percent of the antioxidant content in green tea is lost.

Before you run to your pantry and toss out all tea and coffee from last year that small farmers around the globe worked so hard to get to you, let's take a few minutes to see what other options there are. First, a 32 percent loss still leaves a majority of the antioxidants intact. Keep your older tea, just plan to drink it first. You will still get a good dose of antioxidants, while avoiding food and financial waste. You can make up for the potential antioxidant shortage by using two tea bags instead of one.

What is the most optimal way to store tea and coffee to avoid nutrient loss?

  • Store tea and coffee in an airtight tin, or an opaque airtight container.
  • Store the products in a cool location away from heat. Green tea is especially sensitive to heat, so make sure you are not storing near a stove.
  • Date products and use the oldest products first. FIFO - first in, first out.
  • Next time you are stocking up on tea or coffee, buy only what you will consume over six months.
  • If the end of the warm beverage season is approaching and you have an excess of product, hold a tea and coffee party. You will get to spend time with friends and family and can use it as an opportunity to tell them about fairly traded, small farmer products.

Learn more about nutrient loss here.