Does Tea Go Bad?

August 18, 2022
Oolong Tea

How can you tell if your tea has gone bad?

This is the question that haunts our worst nightmares, and it’s probably a situation you’ve found yourself in at some point. (If you’re new to the wonderful world of tea, then it’s a question you’ll eventually ask.)

Maybe you bought some tea a long time ago, but it’s been sitting in your pantry and you’re not sure if it’s still good. Or you brewed a cup of tea, but you got involved in an emergency at work and left the cup sitting out for several hours. You could reheat the drink, but should you?

You can’t enjoy tea if you’re not sure it’s safe, which means you need to be able to recognize when it’s going bad. In this article, we’ll show you how. We’ll share some easy-to-spot signs that your tea is deteriorating and shouldn’t be used, as well as some tips for preserving your leaves or your most-recent cup.

Ready to jump in? Let’s go.

How to Identify Bad Tea

What do we mean when we say tea has gone bad? We’re talking about two things: whether you’re risking your health by consuming this tea and whether the leaves you’re steeping have any flavor left to share.

Unbrewed tea will alert your senses to its deteriorating state. Coffee and Tea Corner has helpfully listed some signs for you to recognize tea that is no longer safe for consumption (and we encourage you to read the entire article for reference):

·   Your tea has a dank smell

·   It has mold on any part of it

·   It has no flavor or scent

·   It’s older than 3 years

Now that we know what can happen if your tea gets old, how can you make sure you’re doing everything possible to prevent that from happening?

How to Keep Unused Tea Leaves

According to Steeped Dreams, your unused tea leaves can be stored for up to two years before you notice a decline in their quality.

To avoid your tea leaves going bad, you can rely on these helpful suggestions from Does It Go Bad:

·   Store your tea in dry, dark areas

·   Don’t open the container more than needed, because air circulation will age the leaves

·   Keep your tea in resealable bags

Another thing to remember: the best-by date on the package refers to the quality of the tea’s flavor, not whether it’s safe to consume. In the article referenced above, Does It Go Bad points out that tea can be good for up to a year past the label’s best-by date.

Preserving a Brewed Cup of Tea

So that’s your unused tea. What about the cup you’ve already made?

If you leave it out and uncovered, then two things will happen, according to Steeped Dreams. Your tea will lose vitamins and gain bacteria. Obviously, you want to avoid both of those things. The best way to do that is to drink your cup as soon as it’s ready for consumption.

But, if you really do need to put the cup down for a while, then remember Coffee and Tea Corner’s recommendation to not leave it sitting out for more than 8 hours.

Buy Fresh, New Tea

Congratulations! You learned how to identify bad tea, so why not celebrate with a cup of good tea? Come by our store for a fresh drink, or browse some of our selections. We promise you will find something you’ll love—and now you know how to keep it safe for a long time to come.