Can Tea Go Bad – How Long Tea Lasts For & Signs To Tell If Tea Has Gone Bad

Can Tea Go Bad?: If you are one who has developed an interest in tea in recent times you might have had many questions running in your mind like Can Tea Go Bad, How Long Does Tea Last, Tips to Store Tea, etc. Well, you need not worry anymore as we have got them all covered after doing research. You can start reading them without any further delay to know all you need to be aware of Tea right from Shelf Life, Storage Methods, Signs to Tell if Tea has Gone Bad, etc. Read on to know about the Fun Facts about Tea to ponder next time when you have it.

Can Tea Go Bad

Does Tea Actually Expire?

No, Tea will not expire but will lose its flavor and freshness over a period of time. The Taste of Tea after a couple of years past the expiration date will not have the same taste. However, we can’t tell how long the tea is acceptable after this expiration date. You can see the signs of spoilage to check if your tea is bad or not.

How Long Does Tea Last?

Tea usually retains the quality for about 2 to 4 months past the expiration date. Loose leaves will retain the flavors for a long time compared to tea bags due to smaller surface areas. If you want to use Tea with rich flavors try to consume it fast. The higher quality tea you buy also matters in the shelf life.

Can Tea Go Bad

Black vs. Green vs. Oolong vs. White

Of all the Teas Black teas tend to have a long life compared to White and Green and Oolong lies somewhere between. The more the leaves are fermented and stay intact the longer they will retain their flavor. To identify which category of tea they belong to you can simply check out the shelf life of the packaging in the supermarket. Black teas will have a shelf life between 12 to 24 months whereas white and green teas will have shorter shelf life i.e. between 9 to 12 months. Keep the thumb rule in mind that your tea should taste fine for months after the expiration date.

Tea Bags Vs Leaves

We can segregate the Tea Leaves into Whole Leaves, Broken Leaves, Fannings, and Dust. The first two will have a longer shelf life compared to the latter two. The more intact the leaves are the longer they stay. Loose tea comes with whole and broken leaves whereas tea bags include fannings and dust. Some tea bags contain whole and broken leaves but that is a rare case. Knowing this fact, we know tea leaves will have longer shelf life compared to Tea bags.

Can Tea Go Bad


Certain tea cartons come in plastic packaging to preserve their freshness. Due to the plastic packaging, the Tea leaves tend to stay fresh for a long time unlike the ones unwrapped in carton boxes. Flavor declines after opening the wrap. Individual wrapping is needed for the ones that are having more than one flavor. Otherwise, smell and tastes would blend and become an off-mix.

Teas and Infusions with Fruits and Nuts

Most of the teas stay a year-long or more than that. These days teas are coming with fancy items like nuts and fruits and they have a shorter shelf life. If you are dealing with flavored teas and spices make sure to read the label and understand how long it is going to stay good. It is not that tea will go stale or become worse past that date but to know how long the product will stay of good quality.

Type Pantry/Kitchen
Tea bags (unopened or opened) Best by + 6 – 12 months
Loose leaf tea (unopened or opened) Best by + 6 – 12 months

How Long Does Tea Last

How to Tell if Tea Is Bad?

There are certain signs by which you can decide if your Tea is safe to use or not. Go through them listed below and decide if yours is good to have or not. They are along the lines

  • Pantry Pests: If you find any pantry pests in the tea better let it go than use it anymore.
  • Mold Growth or any other Signs of Spoilage: If you witness any mold growing inside the tea leaves it is a clear sign that you need to discard it.
  • Off Aroma: If you sense any off smell coming from the tea leaves or bags throw it out.
  • Funky Smell: If your tea has been kept open for quite a few months it might have picked smells from the surroundings. You can still brew it but will not have the regular taste that tea should be.

How to Store Tea?

Store in a cool and dry place away from strong odors and seal it tightly. There are certain things to keep in mind here

  • Adulteration:  Tea absorbs aromas fastly if you don’t seal it tightly. Tea leaves will start smelling funky if not stored properly. it is the reason you shouldn’t keep it near products that have strong aromas.
  • Sunlight Degrades Tea faster than Oxygen: Photodegradation has a stronger effect on tea compared to fresh air. You can leave it in the carton box that it comes with as long as it doesn’t catch any moisture and air. Make sure to use the one that isn’t transparent.
  • Refrigerating or Freezing: You can go by refrigerating or freezing options too in order to extend the shelf life. However, make sure to keep it in an airtight container that is sealed tightly if you want to experiment with low temperatures.

What is the Risk of Eating Expired Tea?

Usually, Tea doesn’t expire but becomes stale. You can even have tea that is 1 or 2 years past the expiration date and it will not make you sick. The only problem with expired tea is that it loses its flavor and aroma. However, be careful with tea that is having mold as it might contain harmful bacteria. The harmful bacteria can result in stomach aches, vomiting, nausea, fever, etc. Discard the tea if you find any off smell, taste change, or discoloration as all of them indicate signs of spoilage.

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Can Tea Go Bad 1

Can You Freeze Tea?

Yes, you can freeze tea. However, make sure no moisture gets into it as moisture entered can make tea go stale and worse. Slight contact with water will result in mold growth. We don’t recommend using the method to store tea for a long time. If you want to freeze keep certain points in mind

  • Keep tea in resealable bags and squeeze out as much air as possible.
  • Place the freezer bags flat and then stack them one on the other to store space in the freezer.
  • You can even pour the tea leaves into the air container and then wrap the mouth of it with plastic wrap.
  • Wrap the container with another layer of plastic wrap so that moisture doesn’t enter inside as well as prevent the tea leaves from catching any unwanted odors from the surroundings.

Little Known Facts about Tea

Go through the interesting facts that every tea lover should know about Tea below. Know the health benefits, and nutritional value of having tea here. They are as such

  • It takes around 2000 leaves to make 1 pound of tea.
  • There are almost around 3000 varieties of tea in the world and it is the second beverage that is most consumed after water.
  • The most expensive tea in the world is the diamond tea bag.
  • You can use Tea Leaves as a mosquito repellant to keep mosquitoes at bay.
  • Earlier Tea was used as medicine before it was consumed as a daily drink.
  • It is believed that Tea will boost the immune system, fights off inflammation, and even reduces heart diseases.

FAQs on Does Tea Go Bad

1. How long does Tea last if left opened?

Tea lasts for about Best by date and 6 to 12 months after that if left opened.

2. What are the signs to tell if Tea has gone bad?

If you observe the signs like off smell, mold growing inside, pantry pests it’s time to discard your tea.

3. What happens if you drink old tea?

You might not fall sick on consuming old tea. However, if the one you consumed has only mold growing the harmful bacteria present might cause you nausea, vomiting, fever and stomach aches.

Key Takeaways

Hope the info prevailing here related to Can Tea Go Bad has enlightened you to some extent. Follow the above-listed storage practices to use your tea for a long time without changing the quality and taste. If you have any queries feel free to ask us via the comment section and our team will get back to you. Stay in touch with us to know similar kind of content like Can Coffee Go Bad, etc.

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