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Is There a Shelf Life for Tea?

Is There a Shelf Life for Tea?

Tea is undoubtedly the most well-known and healthiest beverage on the planet. It’s a major part of many cultures’ diets, and it can be consumed regularly. However, if you’ve ever wondered if tea expires, this post is for you!

This problem does not have a straightforward answer because it relies on various factors. Although tea bags have an expiration date, loose leaf tea leaves do not. However, unlike other meals and beverages, tea does not always go bad or make you sick if you consume it. When the tea starts to lose its aroma and flavour, you know it’s past its prime. And the longer you preserve it, the worse its qualities will deteriorate.

Tea is delicate, and it can spoil due to minor temperature changes or improper storage and absorb the odour and fragrance of other items placed nearby. Hence, it’s critical to manage your tea to extend its shelf life properly.

Loose Leaf Teas and Pre-Packaged Tea Bags Have a Similar Shelf Life

The usual shelf life of loose leaf teas and pre-packaged tea bags varies slightly because the smaller the leaf, the faster it oxidises, losing its freshness and flavour.

The tea bags come in pre-packaged compartments and are made of very fine particles, largely dust and fanning, with the manufacturer’s best before the date written on them and information regarding the preparation date, process, and how it should be maintained properly. However, tea bags have a shelf life of 6 to 12 months when properly stored.

On the other hand, loose-leaf teas have no expiration date and, in theory, do not go bad. Even when in touch with air and light, they take longer to oxidise since they come in larger leaves. However, it loses flavour, scent, and some colour when it comes into contact with oxygen. On the other hand, tea leaves can last for many years if properly preserved.

How to Store Tea Properly

Proper tea storage is one of the most critical aspects in making your tea last longer. There are various methods to accomplish it; you may use what you already have at home or invest in the proper containers to extend the life of your tea.

Whether you prefer pre-packaged tea bags or loose leaf tea, keep them at room temperature at all times. Tea is excessively sensitive to its surroundings, and any temperature fluctuations, whether minor or major, will degrade the qualities and shorten their lifespan.

At all costs, stay away from the sun. The oxidation process is quick, and you can lose all of your tea in a few days. Please keep them in a closed cabinet or an airtight container with UV protection to avoid exposure to light.

Keep the tea away from any sources of moisture. When tea comes into touch with water while being stored, mould can grow, and the tea will become bad to the point that you won’t be able to drink it. Prefer locations with a comfortable room temperature, away from the sink, and a container to keep the humidity out.

Ensure it doesn’t contact any other spices, herbs, or foods. Tea is an absorbent substance that will absorb anything it comes into contact with the scent and flavour.

Keeping teas with various flavours and aromas apart is a good idea. As previously said, they will absorb the scent and taste of anything they come into contact with, so keep weaker tea away from stronger tea.

Never put your tea in the fridge. The refrigerator, while it may appear to be a suitable place to keep away from natural light and air, is a very humid environment, and the tea will be in regular touch with moisture. This will cause the flavour to fade faster than usual and allow germs and mould to thrive.

Tea should be kept in airtight containers

One of the greatest ways to keep the tea fresh for a long time is to keep it in an airtight container. Even putting it in locked kitchen cabinets may not be sufficient to protect it from air and moisture.

If you want to be secure, there are several airtight container options on the market for you to explore and buy the one that best meets your demands. We’ve compiled a list of some of the best and most popular airtight containers for keeping your tea safe and extending its shelf life:

Airscape Lite Container

This Airscape Lite Container features a unique design created specifically for storing coffee, tea, and food, in general, to keep it fresh. It includes a plunger that eliminates all air from the top of the tea bags or tea leaves, thereby sealing them off from air and humidity. The CO2 valve will preserve the tea flavour.

HIDE Jar of Stash

The HIDE Stash Jar is constructed of aluminium, so it has a strong black exterior, but it also has a great design and technology that keeps the tea away from the air and light and protects all of its aromas.

Tightvac Vacuum Sealed Container 

This item not only generates a vacuum within its body, but it also has a solid black tint that shields it from light. As a result, it’s a one-stop-shop for keeping your tea safe from air, moisture, and light.

Nikon Turn-N-Seal

The top of the Ankomn Turn-N-Seal has a knob that provides an airtight suction seal. The seal may be activated with a simple twist. No batteries or pumps are required, and the tea will last six times longer than usual.

However, remember that plastic and glass airtight compartments are fantastic for keeping the tea away from air and moisture while still allowing natural light to reach it, which is especially important if you’re storing tea leaves. Ceramic choices are wonderful for keeping light out, but they won’t protect the tea from dampness or absorb aromas and scents because they aren’t airtight.

If you go with one of the transparent options, store it somewhere dark and out of the way, such as a closed kitchen cabinet or drawer. Meanwhile, the stainless steel, aluminium, or black plastic ones will keep both your herbal tea and the bags safe from the sun.

Of course, since you’ll be drinking tea frequently, choose options that are simple to open and close. If you need to open and close the tea during the day, it will not affect the quality or expiration date. If the container is nice, it will readily seal everything, but don’t buy one too difficult to manage if you want to be comfortable.

How to Tell if Your Tea Is Old

There really is no one-size-fits-all way for assessing if the tea has gone bad. Of course, the best by date will be your first indicator when it comes to pre-packaged tea bags, but you’ll also need to scrutinise the tea leaves and bags thoroughly.

Its appearance should be the first indicator of whether it is still good or has begun to lose its characteristics. Examine the colour and overall appearance of the tea bags or leaves to check if there have been any significant changes or if mould growth has appeared.

A good technique to tell if the tea is still good is to smell it. If you notice that the tea odor isn’t as strong as it used to be, it may be expired.

Take a look at the location where you’re storing the tea as well. If you see dampness, moisture, or any other indicators that the tea has come into contact with items that cause it to oxidise faster, it could be expired.

Tea That Is Possibly Expired

On a counter is a clear glass teacup filled with steaming herbal tea.

As previously stated, if you consume possibly expired tea, you will not become ill; the natural properties of the tea will not convert into anything hazardous to you, especially if it was stored properly, away from moisture, air, and light. So don’t worry about getting sick with old tea.

With nearly little left to brew, the tea will be less delicious, and most of its qualities and nutrients will be lost. So it’s more about the tea’s quality than its safety, especially if you’re drinking it to absorb minerals.

However, if you detect apparent changes in the tea’s appearance or if the odour is too different from what you’re used to, don’t consume it. In this circumstance, it’s best to be cautious.

Different Types of Teas Have Different Shelf Lives

Although it may appear improbable, the shelf-life of tea varies depending on the variety. The most common types, green tea, black tea, yellow tea, white tea, and herbal teas in general, all have a shelf life and can be used on different dates.

Even if you keep the tea leaves or bags away from water, air, light, and anything else that could shorten their shelf life, the type can affect the best by date. So, if you want to know if tea expires, you should pay attention to the type:

  • Green tea is unfermented, tastes better when drunk sooner, and has a storage life of 18 months. Because this form of tea is not fermented, it retains its flavour and odour for a shorter period than the others. If you choose the leaves over the prepackaged bags, you will absorb more beneficial nutrients.
  • Yellow tea is a light fermented variety of tea that can last for up to 24 months, a little longer than green tea. Yellow tea is also excellent when consumed earlier in the day.
  • Black tea is one of the most powerful and fully fermented varieties, lasting longer than green or yellow tea. It also has a robust and distinct flavour that lasts for years. So, if properly preserved, it will last for over 36 months.

However, please keep in mind that it must be kept away from moisture and light for the tea to last this long. The higher the white tea’s qualities become and the more therapeutic worth it has, the longer it is stored. They are normally consumed after six years of storage and can last for over 20 years. However, keep in mind that for the tea to stay this long, it must be kept free from moisture and light.


The solution to the question “does tea expire?” can be found in the article linked above. As you may have noticed, tea does not always expire, as it depends on whether it is tea leaves that you can purchase separately or even plant yourself or pre-packaged tea bags that can be purchased in grocery shops; how it is stored, and which variety you prefer.

When purchasing pre-packaged teas, keep an eye on the manufacturer’s stated expiration date, as it takes into account the manufacturing process and the date it was made; When buying loose leaf teas, pay attention to the odour and colour of the leaves, and attempt to get them as soon as possible.

If you store your tea properly, there’s no need to worry. Your teas will keep for a long time and will not spoil. In the article above, whether tea expires was answered and detailed. Your teas will stay fresh for a long time.