tea go bad

Does Tea Go Bad? Insights into Storage and Freshness

Quick summary: Yes, tea can go bad over time, although it rarely becomes dangerous to consume. The best-by date on tea packaging indicates optimal freshness and different types of teas have varying recommended consumption periods.

If you are a tea lover only during the cold winter days, you probably wonder if the package you have in the kitchen cabinet since last season is still good. Find all the answers in our article.

There is nothing nicer than coming home after a hard day and relaxing with a cup of hot brewed tea. And if it is cold or snowing outside, a tea can boost your enjoyment. 

For every feeling we have, there is some of the tea brands that goes with it. Mostly, we all have a habit of holding at least five to ten types of teas and choosing when to drink one.

How do teas usually last in a kitchen cabinet until we consume them? The question arises as to how long they last and can they spoil at all? So the answer to the question is twofold. It will rarely happen that the tea is so spoiled that it causes you nausea. However, the pleasure of drinking depends on the aroma of the tea, and it indeed fades with time. When will tea expire? Here are the details.

How Long Does Tea Last?

Can tea go bad? Teas generally have no expiration date but rather the best by date written on the packaging. That date will tell you a lot about the freshness of tea because, of course, the fresher the leaves, the better the aroma. 

You will also notice that different teas have different times of recommended consumption. In principle, black teas can last a little longer than others, but be sure to follow the recommendation written on the box.

Open or unopened tea

If you notice that the expiration date written on the box has passed, don’t worry, the tea is very likely good for consumption and of sufficient quality for another six months to a year. Whether the box is open or not. The method of storage will have the most significant impact on quality. Try to pay more attention to the expiry date if you like cold brewed tea.

Tea Bags or Can Packaging

So do tea bags go bad? The aroma of tea will certainly last longer in a can that is well closed than in a bag or cardboard box. The reason is, of course, the presence or absence of air which helps to evaporate the aroma. If you have the opportunity, choose canned leaves instead of tea bags.

Shelf Life Depending on the Type of Tea

Regardless that it is a dried product that will probably lose its flavor before it spoils, there are still certain differences depending on the type of tea you have. 

Thus, green tea will have one of the shortest shelf life and spoil before others. That is why consuming it within six months of production is recommended and certainly within a year.

It is a similar situation with loose leaf tea. Try to consume it in the suggested period.

Other types of herbal tea can be more durable and last more than a year, sometimes even two. Black tea even longer. However, everyone’s rule is that fresher tea has a stronger aroma, so it’s certainly not a nutrition that will improve with age.

tea bags

Do Tea Bags Expire?

As we have already mentioned, tea rarely becomes spoiled in the sense that it is dangerous to consume. Mostly with old tea, you will get a less tasty drink, that’s all. It rarely happens if moisture has penetrated the packaging, mold develops, and dangerous formations are formed. However, the absence of flavor is enough to buy a fresh product.

Sign 1: Mold appeared

If you notice mold and spores among the tea leaves, be sure to throw the product in the trash. Tea has gone bad. Not necessarily dangerous to consume, but why risk it?

Sign 2: Moisture got to it

The appearance of moisture does not always mean the development of mold. However, if the tea is soaked and moist, you can be sure that it is not of the highest quality to drink.

Sign 3: Smell is funny

The most essential thing in the world for a quality cup of tea is the pleasant and robust aroma. If the smell has become stale or woody, you probably won’t enjoy the drink. The scent should be enjoyable and intense. Old tea bags tend to lose their flavor.

Sign 4: The contents are too dry

Tea is made of dried leaves, flowers, and fruits. However, a product that has been standing for too long, especially exposed to heat or sun, may become too dry. Then you can be almost certain that the aroma is also lost.

Which is the Best Way to Store Tea?

It is extremely important how you store the product if you want it to fulfill its potential for durability. Air, heat, humidity, or light will negatively affect the quality of the tea. Here are some simple rules you can follow for the best results.

Tip 1: Choose tea tins instead of paper

There are different cans on the market that you can reuse for each new pack of tea. Even if you bought tea in paper bags, put them in a tea tin to ensure longevity. The can provides two protections: first from the inflow of air circulation because it is well closed. And the other from light since it is opaque.

Tip 2: Avoid hot places

Very warm places will help the aroma evaporate faster. So always choose a comfortable room temperature for storing tea and avoid exposure to the sun and light.

Tip 3: Avoid moisture

It goes without saying that you should definitely avoid the tea coming into any contact with moisture except when you are brewing the beverage. So, again an airtight container will be a better choice than a paper box to keep tea fresh.


Is it OK to drink expired tea?

Yes. It is OK to drink expired tea. Old loose leaf teas will not do you much harm except that poor quality taste can spoil the relaxing atmosphere you had in mind. So, you can drink tea after the expiration date. 

Can old tea make you sick?

Yes, old tea can potentially make you sick if it has been left at room temperature for an extended period and harmful bacteria have developed.

How long are teas good after the expiration date?

The time range is mostly from six to twelve months after the expiration date.

How long will tea stay good?

Tea can generally stay good for 1 to 2 years when stored in a cool, dry place away from light and moisture. However, its flavor and quality may gradually diminish over time.


Fresh tea is probably one of the oldest drinks known to the human race. If tea is made from natural plants dried by a quality method, then the pleasure of drinking is really precious. It will calm you down, relax you, cheer you up, and even warm you up when you are cold. Whether you like hot beverages or iced tea, it will satisfy your demands.

Teas are durable products that can be used for up to a year after the expiration date. It will be drinkable even after that period, but the aroma will not be the same. Always store tea in a dark place at room temperature and do not expose it to moisture.

Up next: Does ground coffee expire?

*image by maxa0109/depositphotos

About The Author

Scroll to Top