If you buy a box of tea, but don’t consume it frequently, you might be wondering how long you can keep it without it going to waste.
Luckily, when tea goes “bad”, it does not become unsafe to drink. It might be less flavorful or tasty, however.
How Long Can Tea Last?
Generally speaking, if you store your tea, expect it to last about a year before going bad.
This depends on things like where and how you store it, of course. If you put it in a plastic bag, it might only last a few months. If you store it in an airtight container, it is more likely to stay good for up to a year.
You also want to store it in a dark cabinet away from excessive heat or cold, just like other perishable products.
What Happens After Tea Has Been Stored for More Than a Year?
Like mentioned above, tea goes bad, but not in the sense that you cannot consume it. Instead, you might notice it tastes stale. The brewed tea might also be weaker overall than a fresher product.
In other words, you can still drink tea that is old, as it technically does not expire. It might not taste as good, though, and you might even dislike it!
Does the Type of Tea Matter?
The type of tea also influences how long it will last. For instance, black tea typically lasts the longest before going stale. Green tea has a much shorter shelf life.
The quality also matters, just like with many other things. The higher the quality, the longer you can expect it to last.
What About Brewed Tea?
If you have brewed tea, store it in the refrigerator for maximum lifespan. You can expect, when stored in an airtight container in the fridge, the tea to remain good to drink for up to 8 days.
If, on the other hand, you brew some tea and leave it on the counter at room temperature, it will likely be bad within just 8 hours. This is because bacteria can start to grow. Do not consume tea that has been left out, especially if you are unsure how long it has been out.
The presence of bacteria makes it unsafe to drink, and can make you sick should you consume it anyways.
So we can see that the main difference between unbrewed and brewed tea is that brewed tea can actually become harmful and go bad whereas the former will become stale.
Storing Brewed Tea Correctly
Just like dry tea, there are things you can do to increase the length of time it stays good.
Use an airtight container if possible. If you like sweet tea, only add sugar when you are ready to drink it. This is because sugar can actually help bacteria grow.
Be sure to keep it in the fridge when not being poured. Do not leave it out for an extended period of time to avoid possible bacteria growth.
In sum, brewed tea can and does go bad. You should never consume tea left out at room temperature for 8 hours or more. Bacteria can grow, which can cause illness.
On the other hand, unbrewed tea is basically safe for an undefined amount of time. But after about a year (if stored properly), you will likely find it tastes stale. It will be weaker than fresh tea, as well.
It will not be unsafe to drink, but you might find it undrinkable nonetheless, due to the decreased strength and poor flavor!