Does tea expire and How long does tea last?


Tea has long been considered a healthy beverage, widely used around the world. Depending on the type of tea, they have a different shelf life. How long does tea last? This is a common question that makes many people curious. In this article, Vihaba would like to give you the best answer as well as useful information.

Does tea actually expire?

                                                         The variety of teas

Teabags and loose leaf tea packets don’t actually expire, because they contain dried leaves. There’s no moisture that may spoil the product by attracting microorganisms, such as bacteria and mold.

Tea is rarely spoiled as long as it’s stored properly. Old teas may simply be less flavorful and fresh than new ones and will brew up a weaker cup with a stale flavor. In this sense, tea doesn’t actually have an “expiration date” after which it will be unsafe to drink. However, if stored improperly, it may become stale or dull more quickly. In rare cases, if exposed to moisture and heat, teas may actually go bad.

How long does tea last for?

The good news is that tea generally stays fresh for quite some time – around three to four months when stored in a bag and up to a year when stored in a tin or other airtight container. In order to maximize the freshness of your teas, we recommend storing it properly and protecting it from heat, light, air, and moisture whenever possible. In most cases, properly stored teas will still be good to drink for up to a year after purchase.

If properly stored, tea bags and loose leaf tea packets last for 12 to 24 months. After that, they will become notably less flavorful, sometimes even dull and stale. If it’s a fruit tea, you should finish it up within 6 months after you’ve purchased it.

                     Different types of tea will last for different periods of time

It’s important to note that different types of tea will last for different periods of time. For example, it’s generally considered that black and oolong teas last longer than green teas. Here is the shelf life of them: 

  • Green Teas: The average shelf life of green tea is approximately 18 months as it is unfermented. After this, its flavor begins to fade. However, if kept away from light, air, heat, moisture, and odor, it may last up to three years.
  • Oolong Teas: is semi-fermented, and the shelf life of them is also about 2 years. However, for loose leaf Oolong tea, the shelf life is shorter. In addition, the shelf life of Oolong depends on the degree of fermentation and storage method. To keep it at its best, all you need to do is choose a sealed container and put it in a dry, dark, airtight, and odor-free place.
  • Black Teas: has a longer shelf life than green one as it is fully fermented. It may remain fresh for more than 18 months if stored in bulk, while its tea bags do not go stale up to 24 months. Tins or aluminum foil bags of black teas can be stored for about 3 years.

The integrity of the dried tea leaves also plays a role in how long they may last. When tea leaves are broken there is a larger surface area that can be oxidized, which means that they will lose their flavor quicker.

How does the quality of tea affect its shelf life?

The shelf life of tea bags and loose leaf teas packets depends on the overall product quality. The higher the quality – the longer the teas will last. Usually, relatively cheap teas would last for a shorter period compared to high-quality one. This is so, not only because of the precision of processing but also because of the way the teas have been packaged. 

For example, some high-quality teas are sold in nitrogen-flushed sealed packets. Flavor deterioration increases to a great extent when the it is exposed to oxygen. The process of oxidation also leads to the development of unpleasant off-flavors, which becomes increasingly notable after expires. Nitrogen-flushing limits tea’s exposure to oxygen, thus preserving its flavor for longer.

                                                   Store teas properly

To maximize shelf life

In order to preserve the freshness and flavor of loose leaf teas, it’s important to store it correctly! Tea is susceptible to air, moisture, light, and heat, and if exposed to any of these elements for even a fairly short time, teas will begin to degrade.

To maximize the shelf life of tea bags (including black, green, white, and oolong), they must be stored in a cool, dark place, away from direct heat or sunlight.

The most effective way to keep your teas fresh is to use a storage container that is opaque and tightly sealed. Tea tins are an ideal way to store teas for this reason. Glass containers, like mason jars, should only be used if the teas are stored in a dark drawer or cabinet. In general, teas keep best when stored in a cool, dark place away from any direct source of heat or light.

It is recommended not to store tea bags in the refrigerator or freezer as condensation can result, which will harm the taste and flavor of the teas

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