Does Tea Expire If Unopened? Scientific Source Has The Answer

To ensure that quality is maintained, food manufacturers always label their products with expiry dates, indicating the time limit after which their products should not be consumed. Tea is known to be durable, and there are speculations about whether a tea bag will expire if you do not open it.

Does Tea Expire If Unopened? Tea does not expire at exactly the expiry date, as long as it has unopened. While you can drink tea after it has exceeded its expiry date, the flavor will be diminished as time proceeds.

In a post about tea’s durability, Eat By Date explains that you can still drink unopened tea even for up to a year after its “best by” date. While the expired tea will not harm you, its taste will be reduced compared to when it was new.

Green tea is regarded as the most healthy type of tea, and Bigelow’s Classic Green Tea provides a perfect blend between taste and nutritional value. To get the very best of green tea’s benefits, purchase a pack here.

Can You Drink Unopened Expired Tea?

Yes, you can drink unopened expired tea and it will not harm you, even if it has expired for a while. However, drinking already-exposed tea, whether or not it’s expired, could lead to health issues in the long run.

In many cases, once tea expires, it becomes stale and flavorless quickly. It also begins to degrade if exposed to light, moisture, and heat.

Teabags that are way past their expiration dates can be consumed. Unless, of course, signs of mold or contaminated substances are present. However, you must know that this expired tea would be older, drier, and less flavorful after expiration.

To avoid tea from becoming tasteless rapidly, avoid exposure to oxygen. Rather, keep it in an airtight sealed container or plastic.

Although avoiding oxygen is a great way to improve the flavor of tea, it is applicable to only a certain type of tea, like green tea.

Black tea, on the other hand, needs oxidation to change the flavor, color, and smell of the tea leaves. While both green tea and black tea are from the same tea plant, namely Camellia Sinensis Plant, they have different functions and, in some cases, are better medicinally than one another.

As such, it is important to know what works best for your tea in order to retain its flavor and taste after a long time.

The longevity of tea depends on its storage conditions. In terms of storage, unopened tea bags close to sunlight or in damp areas can quickly get stale if not stored in containers. In certain cases, mold can develop in these tea bags without your knowledge and affect your health in the long run.

So whether or not your tea is expired, you must remain intentional about its safekeeping to maintain its freshness.

There are many other ways to refine unopened expired tea if you do not want to drink them anyway. This includes using them as odor absorbers or fertilizers. Although their scent might not be strong compared to when they’re not unexpired, they are still useful for areas in the home and hold a bit of nutrient that is useful as fertilizers.

How Do You Know If Tea Is Expired?

You know a tea expires when it begins to have certain changes in its color, has a mildew odor, and a decrease in its freshness and taste. While an unpackaged tea is liable to expire before a packaged tea, the appearance and distinct smell let you know whether or not it’s expired.

There are different ways to determine whether or not tea is safe and good for drinking. However, the use of expiration dates might not be the best. You may wonder why? But the truth is that these dates aren’t chosen based on their standardization or contamination risk.

The best-before date of any product is usually determined by its quality and not safety. That is, even after the given dates of certain products like tea, they’re still very much safe to consume. However, they might not be at their best as regards flavor or texture at this particular time.

There are many ways to know whether or not your tea is expired or safe to drink. One of which is the sniffing test. All you need to do is perceive the odor of the tea and compare it to previous smells before it expired.

However, this test isn’t exactly the most appropriate way to know if your tea is good for drinking because there’s little to no smell of unopened expired tea. And also because without previous cues, the odor of tea would be difficult to name or easily identify.

Rather than performing the sniffing test, here are some things to check out for to know if your tea is expired:

Pungent OdorPerceiving your tea, in this case, only works perfectly if the tea bag has been previously exposed to moisture at a certain point in time.Since it has been partially brewed without being attended to, it’d leave a pungent smell that’d be unpleasant and unable to be missed.
MoldOnce you begin to see the signs of bacteria-like substance on your tea bag, you should be aware that your tea is no longer palatable. Molds are evidence that your tea has been exposed to warmth and moisture.These are the ideal conditions that aid bacterial growth. As such, they should be disposed of properly, as the slightest consumption of these terminated microbes could lead to health issues.
No Flavor or ScentOnce you brew your tea, if it has expired, you’d notice that its scent doesn’t immediately evolve in the room as it normally would. Plus, you’d get little to no flavor when you taste it.Irrespective of their type, teas always have a robust flavor and scent. Without none of this, or if only mild, there’s a great chance of your tea being too old and expired for consumption.
VibrancyOnce your tea is too old to be drunk, you’d notice that the color of the tea leaves is no longer vibrant.That is, darker tea becomes gray, and green tea becomes yellow. Plus, when brewing, the tea color becomes really light and dull.

What Is The Proper Way To Store Tea?

The proper way to store tea is by keeping them away from five major elements; Heat, light, moisture, odor, and air. This way, they maintain their scents and last for a longer period of time.

Storing tea shouldn’t be a hassle. They’re usually small and easy to keep safe. Tea, as originated in China undergoes rigorous processes depending on its type and results in the dried tea leaves ready to be brewed.

As such, it’s imperative to understand the different tea types and how to store them properly. The best way to properly store your tea irrespective of its type is by keeping it in airtight containers.

However, you must ensure that these containers have been washed and thoroughly cleaned. When storing, the best containers to use are ceramic, plastic, or non-metal reactive containers. This is because they aid preservation and never absorb the smell or flavor of the tea.

Use tight seals on your tea storage containers to keep away heat, air, light, and moisture from your tea bags. For sealing options, go for containers with double lids, or silicone reusable zippers.

Here’s a list of different tea types and their proper storage:

Tea TypeStorage
Green TeaCompared to other tea types, green tea is oxidized easily and is prone to lose its original color once exposed. Keeping green tea at a low temperature is one of the best ways to preserve it.Since low temperatures reduce oxidation rate, it’s only advisable to treat such methods as a priority. It’s advisable to store it in aluminum foil bags, double-sealed containers, or refrigerators.
Black TeaSince black tea is an already oxidized tea, it has low water content. Black tea is best kept in close and dry conditions to avoid high temperatures and sunlight. This way, its shelf life is guaranteed to last longer.
Oolong TeaOolong tea is a semi-fermented tea made of the Camellia Sinensis plant like green and black tea. To maintain freshness and reduce oxidation, oolong tea should be kept refrigerated or in porcelain jars that can be tightly sealed.
White TeaWhite tea is a slightly fermented tea that requires no moisture retention if it’s not being brewed. It goes through the least amount of processing, and it can be stored in cartons or tin bottles to maintain its dryness.

Generally, all types of teas should be kept in seclusion if not in use. Because tea is highly absorbent, it can easily mix flavors with the surrounding dominant flavor. Therefore, give teas their own storage area away from anything with a strong scent in your pantry.

How Long Is Tea Good After Its Expiry Date?

Depending on the shelf life of various teas, a tea is good enough for over two years after its expiry date as long as it’s well-kept and preserved. However, if your tea absorbs moisture content faster than usual, its shelf life might not be as long as expected.

Over time, teas begin to lose their flavor and scent slowly. However, these can be slowed down by many preventive measures to aid the expiration length. To know if your tea is still as fresh, brew up a cup and notice the changes if there are any. You’d be able to tell by its aroma and color.

Asides from this, the shelf life of different teas plays a great role in determining how long they’d last after their expiry date. This value provides numerical support for teas after expiration and gives you, the owner, an idea of how long you can take your tea before tossing it out.

Typically, the shelf life of a tea can last from twelve to thirty-six months, depending on its type. However, a loose leaf tea shelf’s life is generally shorter because it absorbs water faster than other tea types.

The shelf life of green tea is approximately eighteen months before its flavor begins to fade. Black tea, on the other hand, has a longer shelf life and can last two to three years. And just like black tea, white tea’s shelf life can last up to two years.

Regardless, the shelf life of every tea may not last till its due time because of certain factors. This is why it is important to keep tea away from negative factors like moisture, sunlight, or air.

How Do You Know If Expired Tea Is Still Good Quality?

Every tea with good quality has a smooth and whole feel. Therefore, you’d know that tea is of good quality if it leaves a slight heft on your hands or has a distinctive aroma.

You can make use of various parts of your sense organs to identify a tea with good quality. Generally, high-quality tea should look exactly the way they feel. This means they must be smooth, and whole, and have an exquisite new flavor when tasted.

Tea leaf grading, as it is popularly called, allows you to evaluate the quality and conditions of these tea leaves. You can grade a tea by its size or appearance when grading. But first, you must test your tea by its appearance.

There are two main ways tea can look after being processed. This includes the CTC (Cut, Tear, and Curl) and Orthodox methods.

The CTC method usually leaves the tea less flavorful and shreds tea leaves into small pellets, while the orthodox method is rolled and ground to retain the tea leaves’ flavors.

Furthermore, high-quality tea does not crumble easily when new. If otherwise, it suggests that the tea has been baked or left for too long. Ultimately, these methods, along with looking out for teas with exclusive tastes, would guide you into finding the right tea.

What Can I Do With Old Tea Bags That Have Passed Their Expiry Date by Several Years ?

You can refine old tea bags for different uses in your home. This includes using them as fertilizers to make plants grow better and make the plant leaves brighter.

While old tea bags might not be the best for your health, you can reuse them to not only keep the environment clean but also make your living space one with a spectacular aroma.

Since tea can absorb aroma, you can place some tea bags behind your refrigerator to give them a fresh smell while replacing them frequently. You can also use old black tea bags to prevent your cookware metal from corroding. The tannins in black tea prevent metals from rusting and can be rubbed regularly on cookware to make it look good.

Old tea bags, after getting brewed, can also reduce puffy eyes and dark circles. All you need to do is place your tea bags in the fridge for a few hours and hold them under your eyes after for a refreshing treatment.

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Aron Blake

I am the lead copywriter on Homezesty and the Webmaster. I have a lot of experience in home renovations and the creation of style. I enjoy writing and sharing my tips on how to create the best living environment. My Linkedin Profile, My Twitter Account

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