Tea, like lots of other drinks, typically has in its best quality before the date and not an expiration date or utilize by date. Expired tea is not right in taste. After some time, it is due to the fact that it loses its taste and aroma or may go entirely stale.
Here we will discuss in detail whether you can drink tea that already expire or not!
Table of Contents
Does tea expire?
Just like coffee, tea also have a shelf life. Whether you buy loose leaf tea or tea bags, the packaging is perfect before date. This date generally highlights how long the tea will continue its excellent flavor. Once the best before date has ended, the tea is still safe to drink, but you may observe the taste may not be as good as it was, compared to when it was first bought.
It is primarily due to the natural oils and flavors in the tea will evaporate with time. Usually, it is perfect for storing tea in an airtight container, away from direct sunlight exposure, in a cool, dry location.
You can store tea leaves in the freezer as it can extend its freshness for a more extended period. If you are not going to drink tea that has passed its expiry date, you don’t need to discard it immediately.
The tea leaves can be utilized to absorb odors in storage areas, or even included to a bin in your garden to use as fertilizer. This would be an ideal technique to be kind to the environment and decrease waste.
Do tea bags expire?
The simple answer is yes, and tea bags can go wrong. They can be used for one to two years past their expiration date offered they were stored adequately. As they age, tea bags may dry out and lose taste. Unless exposed to bugs, sunlight, or moisture, they do not go bad very soon. It would be best to store tea bags in a sealed container in a cool, dark area.
So, if your tea bags get wet, moist, or remain in the sun, it’s a great possibility that they have lost their flavors. Therefore, if you have some old tea bags that have been around for four years, then purchase new ones, look for the following:
- Smell the tea bags
- Visible mold or mildew
- Look for evidence of bugs (movement or holes in the tea bags)
How long does loose leaf tea last?
White tea has a longer storage time as compared to other tea leaves. When adequately stored, the shelf life of packaged tea is typically two years.
For green tea, the shelf life is generally eighteen months because it is unfermented. After this, its taste starts to fade. However, if you keep it away from light, heat, air, moisture, and odor, it may last up to two years.
This tea is semi-fermented, and the shelf life of oolong tea is also approximately two years. But, for loose leaf Oolong tea, the expiry time is shorter. Additionally, the shelf life of Oolong relies on the degree of fermentation and storage techniques. Once this tea expire, it will taste terrible, and you will not like it.
Black tea has a more extraordinary shelf life compared to green tea because it is fully fermented. It may remain fresh for over 16 months if stored in bulk, while its tea bags don’t stale up to 20 months. Aluminum foil bags of tea can be stored for about two years.
How long does brewed tea last?
Brewed tea will last two to four days in the fridge. While at room temperature, it is only suitable for 8 hours. If you leave brewed tea outside for too long, the color will darken and it might taste sour very quickly on the hot day.
Ensure to keep the brewed tea in an airtight container. You cannot just put plastic wrap over a container. An airtight container will also keep taste without exposing the tea to other smelly foods in your fridge like onions.
How long does iced tea last?
Iced tea provides you a diversity of health benefits so that you have to make fair usage. There is a different maximum time for storing tea as it depends on your storage condition. If you store the iced tea in the room’s temperature, it is different from keeping it in the fridge.
Therefore, many individuals prefer putting the tea in the fridge to have iced tea. Keeping this point in mind, you can store the iced tea for approximately five days as it lasts 4-5 days.
How to tell if the tea is still fresh or expire?
There are 3 ways to check the freshness of your tea.
The first thing you need to check to determine the freshness of your tea is the expiration date. You should be able to find its expiry date on the tea package or tea can.
If you have a tea collection at home and you like to keep your teas in your personal set of containers, then you should keep track of the expiry date of each teas by writing it on label and stick it to the bottom of the container.
You can also check by looking as how your tea has changed since purchase. Old tea will look darker compare to new tea batch. Furthermore, if the teas are exposed to moisture, you might find sign of mold or fungus in your tea. In this case, you should not consume it anymore.
Smell and taste
If your tea already passed two checks above, the best way to tell if your tea is still good to drink is by tasting it yourself.
Good tea should have a strong aromatic scent after brewing and taste flavorful. If the tea tastes stale, or off the flavor that you usually taste, then you should stop drinking it. It is time to buy new tea.
How to store your tea to maintain its quality?
Although teas will be able to last for very long time, however if you do not know how to store it properly, the quality will degrade very easily and quickly.
You should store your teas in the airtight container and keep it away from direct sunlight. Glass container should be avoid as it allows sunlight to get through it. Instead you should use containers that are made from tin or stainless steel, ceramic or wood.
Furthermore, since tea is susceptible to heat and moisture, thus you should not keep your tea container near the kitchen sink or your kitchen range.
Can you drink expired tea?
You can drink the expired tea, but its taste will not be the same as before its expiry date. Teabags will be sufficient for at least a couple of months in the kitchen, but they are still safe to drink even long after that. They may change color, odor, or flavor.
If you are also a fan of coffee. You can check out this article to know more about shelf life of coffee.
What to do with expired tea?
If you have too many teas that already passed the expiry date and you do not want to drink it anymore since the taste is already gone, please do not throw it in the trash bin because you can use them for many other things
- Tenderizing meat or chicken
Since tea contains tannins – a chemical compound that act as natural tenderizer, you can use tea to tenderize your meats or chicken before cooking. It is very simple, you just need to brew a cup of tea using loose tea or tea bags, then use the brewed tea to soak your meats for 10-15 minutes. After that you can discard the tea and rinse your meats before cooking.
- Making tea bath
Although old tea does not taste good, but it is perfect for making tea bath. The antioxidant properties in tea will help softening your skin while the tea scents will make you feel relax and ease the stress. If you have floral tea like lavender or chamomile tea, it is even better.
For making tea bath, brew a bowl of tea with 3 old tea bags, or 3 serving of tea leaves. Then mix it will water in your bathtub. Please check the temperature of the water before bathing. You should soak for at least 15 minutes to enjoy the full benefits of the tea bath.
- Perfect for fire starters
Old teas can be used as a fire starter for your BBQ party. It does not only light the fire very quickly but also create a nice scent which can also infuse in the flavor of your BBQ.
- Use for compost piles
Tea leaves will add nitrogen component into your compost which make it a perfect fertilizer for your garden. If your tea bag is not compostable, you should open the tea bags and just use the teas for the the compost.