Teabags and Expiry Date: Can Tea Expire?

how long can you keep tea bags

We keep a few packets of teabags all the time. Since they are affordable and can help us instantly make the perfect cup of tea we want, we buy them in excess thinking we will eventually use all of them.

However, have you ever wondered that do these teabags ever expire? How long can tea bags last before getting ruined? In this article we will share all the necessary details you need to know to save as much teabags as you can before they expire.

How long can you keep tea bags?

Tea bags stored in an dry air tight container can last up to 24 months. To increase their shelf-life, you need to make sure they are away from moisture because moisture can significantly decrease the life of a teabag!

The tea rarely ever goes bad on its own. It needs to come in contact with moisture to degrade in quality over time. Henceforth the date on the packaging is just an idea of how long you can expect the tea to taste at its best. Even after the specified date, you can still use it as long as it does not smell foul. 

Oolong tea on the other hand is mildly processed and ranks somewhere between black and green tea lasts for a lesser time. While green tea is the least processed out of the three and lasts for a shorter duration.

How long do tea leaves last?

Oxidized tea leaves can last for 6 to 12 months if you store them in a cool dry place. Whereas, non-oxidized tea leaves do not expire for several years.

How to keep tea bags fresh?

  • Get an opaque and odor-less container for the tea.
  • Preserve the tea or teabag in an airtight container at room temperature.
  • Keep the tea away from anything with a powerful smell.
  • Pack scented tea and delicate tea separately.

How tea is processed? – All about tea and tea bags!

The various types of teas such as green, white, Oolong, and black come from the leaves of the same plant. However, they differ in the way their leaves are processed past the harvesting stage, and just before the drying stage. All the teas eventually lose their flavor and the nutrients in them degrade.

Nevertheless, the tea leaves that are dried up and preserved, by the process of drying and are mostly kept away from heat, water, air, or light can last up to two years. The dried leaves will last longer if they are fermented better and the dried leaves remain intact.

Black tea leaves are more fermented than the green, white and even oolong tea is somewhere between. The scale for intactness of the leaves differs from leaf to leaf, and the amount of fanning (small pieces of leaves), as well as the dust particles, left behind.

Teabags often have fanning and dust particles since they brew rather quickly. You may often find whole leaves in some tea bags that require room to expand. For a flavonoid-rich and tasteful tea that you would like to preserve for the next two years use an airtight container to store it. Moreover, make sure that you keep it away from the stove or sink.

There are numerous types of teas and it is overwhelming to keep a track of them. If you are a tea enthusiast, it is likely that you buy different flavors and test them out. Some of these turn out to taste amazing while others not so much. While there are also those that you never get around to tasting. These resurface in your pantry after months.

The real question here is, has the tea gone bad? Most people just throw them out if they have crossed the expiry date on the label. While others have a hard time believing that the tea has gone bad. If you identify yourself with the latter then here is an informative article on “How long can you keep teabags?”

Fun fact about tea

Apart from the type of tea the quality of the tea also plays a great role in identifying its life span. Green tea that is of good quality can last longer than a poor-quality Earl grey tea.

To sum it up tea bags and tea leaves that are of good quality can be kept for about a year past the printed date. Another type of tea is red tea, also known as the Pu-erh tea. This tea is made through the process of fermentation, unlike the other type which puts it on higher rank when it comes to quality and taste.

However, it would be incorrect to expect a rather cheap quality red tea to last for years in storage.

How to store tea?

Storing tea is similar to storing coffee. It needs to be stored in a dry and dark environment where no heat, light, or air is accessible to it. The pantry is the perfect spot for storage however the cupboard is the most convenient one. Once the packet is open make sure to transfer it to an airtight container or seal the packet away.

Air circulation fast forwards the aging cycle of the tea leaves and our job is to avoid that as much as possible. For tea that comes in paper bags and cannot be resealed, you could always transfer it to the container. Many jars and containers are available for this purpose.

If making your tea last for longer periods is not what you’re looking for then you could always leave it in its original packaging.


How to tell if the tea has gone bad?

If your tea tastes dull or flavorless, then it has gone bad. Other common signs of bad tea is visible mold growing on the tea or teabag.

The only way to tell if the tea has gone bad is by brewing it. If the tea tastes stale or the flavor seems to be uncoordinated, then it might be time to throw it out. The tea is still safe to drink but the taste is just not the best. So no need to worry about it upsetting your stomach. Therefore making it one of the top reasons why you should immediately get rid of it.

Do tea bags go bad?

Tea bags generally do not go bad. The tea, however, can start to loose its flavor after a year if it is not stored properly in a cool dry place away from moisture.

Teabags can last a year in the back of your pantry probably even longer than that. However, they are still safe to consume. They do lose their color or flavor once they cross the date printed on the packaging. The date represents the best quality and not safety.

How long can you keep tea bags after the expiration date?

Approximately about 6 months to a year. Both tea bags and tea leaves retain their quality during this time.

Can old tea make you sick?

Tea should be consumed right after it has been brewed. Old tea will taste weird due to the antioxidants that are present in it. Old tea does not usually make you sick, but I would not recommend that you consume it. If you do have doubts about its taste better to throw it out than to drink it all the way. The same goes for old tea leaves which may only be safe to drink as long as the packaging suggests.

What can I do with old unused tea bags?

If you do happen to find a bunch of old tea bags in your closet, then here are some ways to use them:

  • Use the old tea leaves to freshen up your rugs and carpets.
  • Brew them up for an oxidizing mask for eye bags.
  • You could hydrate your dry skin patches with it.
  • Sunburns hurt a lot; you could use them to soothe the redness
  • Clean up stiff greasy kitchen counter-top stains.
  • They serve as a great way to polish wood.
  • Whip up a relaxing bath with them.

Final words on how long can you keep tea bags!

You could brew old tea bags and if they don’t smell bad or taste weird it is okay to consume old tea. However, I would recommend that you use them in some other way rather than consuming it. They serve as a great way to get rid of bad odors and maybe you could reuse them as a life hack too!

Let us know if you have a crazy life hack for reusing teabags.

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Immad Amir

Hey there, I'm Immad! I'm an SEO and appliance fanatic. Amna, my fiance, and I combined our interests and came up with RavvyReviews to help you all with our well-researched kitchen appliance reviews and foodie informative articles. We aim to learn more along the way and keep bringing you authentic trustworthy articles so all of us can have fun in the kitchen! We love interacting with you guys, do share yours thoughts in the comments. Get in touch with me through info@ravvyreviews.com

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