Can Tea Go Bad

does tea go bad

Tea is an extremely common drink that is popular around the world and is found in many countries. It is especially prominent in parts of Europe, the Middle East, South and East Asia. Tea is often compared to Coffee in terms of its’ reliability as a simple drink that can be served in homes, at restaurants, or for a simple gathering among friends. Tea is known to be the most widely consumed beverage around the world after water. Tea is an aromatic type of drink that has its’ origins in Asia hundreds of years ago. Tea comes about as a result of mixing boiling and hot water with green leaves. There are many different types of teas with many kinds of flavors. Tea can be sweet, nutty, fruity, floral, and even simply green. Since it is mass produced, it has become a staple drink around the world and can be found in any kind of market. If you’re at a local supermarket and you see a big sale on packages of tea, what should you do? Would it be worth the savings in both time and money to store the extra tea for the long-term? Will you be able to use all of the tea before it begins to spoil? The ultimate question remains; does tea go bad?

Does Tea Go Bad Or Expire?

Fortunately for consumers around the world, tea does not go bad in the traditional sense. Tea doesn’t really expire, it usually has a “best before date” which means that after that date you can still consume it but it will not be as fresh and tasty. Tea, like many different food products, will eventually lose all of its’ taste and flavor on a long enough timeline. The good news is that by following the necessary steps and precautions, you will be able to store your tea properly for a long time. In order to get a better sense of how best to store the tea, extend its’ shelf life, and look out for signs of weak tea, read through this article to learn more and educate yourself.

Storing The Tea

The most important thing to remember when it comes to storing the tea is to keep it in a cool, dark, and dry place. You’re also going to want to store the product in a container or box that can be closed or sealed tightly. The worst thing that you could do for your tea is to expose it to any outside elements for a long period of time. Some of these outside elements include sunlight, heat, oxygen, water, etc.

Specifically, exposing the tea to any kind of moisture or wetness will cause the product to lose its overall flavor or taste rather quickly. It is not recommended to freeze or refrigerate the tea in an airtight container or package. It would be best for the Tea to be kept at room temperature or close to that in a location like a kitchen cabinet or pantry. If possible, it could be also kept in the cellar or attic. An airtight container or bag will keep the tea from being exposed to any air which could also affect the quality of its’ flavor and cause it to lose its’ appeal quickly.

Shelf Life of Tea

When it comes to tea, there is usually a “best before” or “use by” date located on the packaging or container. However, this date should not be mistaken for an expiration date since tea doesn’t technically go bad but that it instead loses its flavor over time. After this date passes, it’s important to be aware that the quality of the tea will begin its’ inevitable decline. The tea will still be good to drink but it won’t be as flavorful as before.

Each kind of tea is different and it’s clear that there are many different types, brands, and kinds out there. Generally though, each producer of tea will tell you that the product will last for about two years or so before it completely loses its original taste or flavor. Please be aware that this timeline is only the case if you have stored the product properly during those few years. If you haven’t opened the tea at all or you have done so but made sure to keep the package or container of your tea sealed tightly without letting the air or any other outside elements in, then this timeline should be correct.

Generally, white and green teas rely on their essential oil content for flavor and will lose their taste the fastest, usually within 6 months to 1 year. Black tea depends on complex polyphenols for flavor and tends to fade slower. Black tea should be fresh for at least one year, sometimes even more than two or three years.

The tea taste and freshness is usually determined by the leaf size. When the leaf is larger and more tightly rolled the tea (e.g. oolongs, pearls), the longer it will stay fresh. Smaller leaves (or broken leaves) let the air contact the leaf which makes the tea to get stale faster.

Check out this video that explains in more detail about tea expiration and its relation to pack size:

Signs of Bad Tea

While tea doesn’t necessarily go bad on you, the quality will definitely deteriorate over a long enough period of time. Because of that fact, what are the signs to look out for in order to tell when it would be best to throw the tea out? One of the steps that you can take is to look at the appearance of the container and also the teabags inside. You should check to see if there’s any moisture or wetness or if there’s any serious mold or bacteria forming.

If that’s the case then it may not be best to keep drinking the tea. However, if there’s no problem with the appearance of the tea then you should dig a little deeper and try to smell the tea. Each kind of tea has a unique aroma and smell to it that is easily recognized. You will know that something has gone wrong with your tea when you smell it and a foul or pungent odor has developed instead of its’ normal and pleasant aroma. Lastly, you can do a small taste test and have a sip of your tea to ensure its quality is still the same. A small taste test won’t make you sick and its’ the best way to check whether or not the tea still has good flavor or if its’ gone stale on you.


Luckily, Tea does not go bad easily unless it develops a lot of bacteria or mold, which means you should throw it away immediately. However, that’s unlikely to happen if you decide to store it properly in an airtight package or container. If you take the necessary steps and precautions, your tea will last you for a couple of years, which is enough time to enjoy this delicious beverage with your friends, family, and neighbors. Good luck and use your best judgment when it comes to preventing your tea from going bad.




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