Does Tea Go Bad? Find Out Here

Tea is one of the most popular beverages in the world, and people have been enjoying it for centuries. But what happens if you leave tea in your kitchen cabinet for too long? Should you throw it out? Does tea go bad?

It may come as a surprise to you, but the answer is yes, tea does go bad. The shelf life of teas varies, but generally, all types of tea can last for 1 – 3 years under proper storage conditions.

This article will help you understand the shelf life of tea, how to tell if it’s still good, how to preserve it, and more. Let’s get started.

What Is Tea?

Tea is a brewed drink made from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis, an evergreen shrub native to Asia. It is popular throughout the world, and is one of the most widely consumed beverages after water.

There are many different types of tea, but the main types are black, green, oolong, and white. All teas come from the same plant, but manufacturers process them differently to produce different results.

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Does Tea Go Bad?

The answer is yes, but it usually takes a very long time. The reason for this is that tea leaves are dried, so they are less susceptible to bacteria or other microorganisms.

Most teas have a shelf life of 1 to 3 years. After that, the flavor can become stale, and the tea becomes moldy. If you want your tea to last longer, put it in an airtight container and store it in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight.

Does Green Tea Go Bad?

Yes, it does. If you store your green tea in a cool dry place, it can last for 9 to 12 months. After that period has passed, it starts going stale and loses its flavor and aroma, which makes it less enjoyable when you consume it.

Green teas oxidize quickly when you expose them to oxygen; therefore, it’s best to store them in a cool place away from heat and light. You can also store them in the refrigerator or freezer, but keep them away from smelly foods, like onions and garlic.

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Does White Tea Go Bad?

Yes, it does. White tea can last for 12 –18 months if you store it in an airtight container away from heat and light. After this period, it’ll start to smell bad and develop mold growth.

To get the most out of your tea leaves, buy smaller quantities more frequently instead of large bags that may sit around for months before you use them all up.

Does Oolong Tea Go Bad?

The answer is yes. Like all teas, Oolong tea will eventually go bad due to the processes of oxidation and microbial growth. However, if you store it properly, the tea will not go bad for 1-2 years.

To prevent your oolong teas from going bad quickly, store them in an airtight container away from direct sunlight. If you’re not planning to brew them for a long time, make sure you store them in the refrigerator or freezer to prevent bacterial contamination.

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Does Black Tea Go Bad?

Yes, but there’s a catch. Black teas have a longer shelf life than other types of teas because they undergo different processing. However, like all types of tea, they will go bad after a while (usually 2-3 years).

Your storage environment also plays a huge role in determining how long your black teas last. If you store your black teas in an area with high moisture or heat, their shelf life will shorten significantly.

Can You Drink Expired Tea?

Yes, you can. There’s a common misconception that “expiry” date on teas is the last day you can drink them. In reality, it’s only an indicator of when the manufacturer believes the product will go bad.

Do you have some expired teas lying around in your fridge? Try smelling and tasting them. If they smell bad or taste off, toss them out immediately, as they are most likely bad. If they smell and taste fine, then they’re safe for you and your family to drink.

How to Tell if Tea Has Gone Bad

Smell it

If your product smells like moldy hay or fermented fruit instead of fresh leaves, then it has gone bad. The oozing smell can be a result of improper production or storage, so make sure you store your tea correctly and purchase only from reputable sources.

Check for fuzzy spots on the leaves

Fuzzy spots on the surface of leaves usually indicate mold growth. It can also be a sign of bacteria growth within the leaves. So if you notice any fuzzy spots or lines on your product, throw it away immediately.

Inspect the color

If your tea looks black or brownish-yellow, it’s probably gone bad, and you should toss it out immediately. This is likely due to oxidation occurring over time, causing the color of the leaves to change.

Taste it

Another way to determine if your product has gone bad is by tasting a few leaves from the bottom of the package. If the leaves don’t taste fresh or if they have an unusual aftertaste, throw them out.

Steep the leaves in hot water

Boil a cup of hot water and steep a teaspoon of the leaves in it for about five minutes. If the color isn’t very vibrant or if there’s no aroma at all, then you should toss out the entire product.

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How to Preserve Tea

Keep it away from heat and light

The best way to ensure that your product stays fresh is by keeping it away from heat and direct sunlight. Heat causes the natural oils in teas to evaporate more quickly, while light can cause them to fade. Both factors will reduce the shelf life of your product.

Keep it away from moisture

Moisture can damage teas, making them more susceptible to bacterial and mold growth. To prevent this problem, keep your teas away from moisture by storing them in a cupboard rather than on an open shelf or countertop.

Store tea in an airtight container

Store your teas in an airtight container to help prevent moisture and oxygen from entering the package and spoiling the contents inside. Glass jars are best for this purpose because they don’t absorb odors as plastic containers do.


Refrigeration will help slow down the spoilage process of your product by lowering its temperature slightly. When refrigerating your product, be sure to keep it in an airtight container and away from foods with strong odors (like onions).


If you must store your teas for long periods, freeze them. Place your teas into a small freezer-safe container or resealable plastic bag and store them in your freezer.

When ready for use, simply remove them from the freezer and let them thaw at room temperature for about 30 minutes before using.


How can you preserve green tea?

The best way to preserve green tea is to store it in an airtight container away from sunlight, heat, and moisture. It will help prevent microbial growth and oxidation, which can cause the tea to lose its freshness and go bad.

Are black teas the same as Oolong teas?

No, they’re not. Black teas are darker in color than Oolong teas. They come from the same plant as Oolong teas, but they’re processed differently to give them their characteristic black color.

There are many varieties of black tea, including English breakfast, Darjeeling, Earl Grey, and Irish breakfast.

Can tea help you lose weight?

Yes, it can. Due to its high antioxidant content, tea can help you lose weight, prevent cancer, and protect your heart. It can also help reduce anxiety and boost brain function.

Can you freeze tea?

Yes, you can. If you don’t plan on drinking your tea right away, put it in the freezer until ready to use. Before freezing teas, put them in an airtight container or a freezer-safe bag. This will help protect them from moisture, which can cause microbial growth and lead to spoilage.


The shelf life of tea varies depending on the type of tea and how you store it. In general, green teas can last for 9 -12 months, black teas can last for 12–18 months, oolong teas can last for 1 -2 years, and black teas can last for 2 -3 years if you store them properly.

The best way to tell if your tea is still good is to smell them or look for signs of discoloration. If your tea smells bad or if it looks discolored in any way, toss it out immediately.

Thanks for reading.

Visit Cheffist to learn more about the shelf life and preservation methods of teas.