Can tea bags expire? (+3 Ways to tell)

In this article, we will answer the question “Can tea bags expire?”, and how to tell If the tea is bad?

Can tea bags expire?

Yes, tea bags expire but it is rare unless stored improperly. The shelf-life of tea depends on the type of tea. Green tea, due to its higher moisture content, is highly prone to spoilage but black tea is less susceptible because of the low moisture levels. While the white tea tastes better with passing time.

How to store tea bags safely?

Always store your tea bags in a cool place and do not let the moisture anywhere near them. A humidity level that is greater than 65% and 50% will lead to fungal growth and staling of tea bags, respectively.

If you are storing your tea bags in the pantry, keep away from the spice containers to prevent the tea bags from absorbing other flavors while losing their flavor in the process.

Store the tea bags in an airtight container.

Is freezing tea bags a good choice?

Freezing or refrigerating tea bags is not recommended due to the high humidity levels. Moisture is going to degrade the quality of your tea bags and make them dry out and quickly lose their flavor and aroma.

If necessary, always use freezer bags and squeeze out all air from the bag.

How to tell if the tea goes bad?

Use your senses to make the judgment.

  1. You can tell by the appearance if there are any clear signs of mold growth or the tea looks clumpy.
  1. Sniff it. If the tea has a stale and sour smell, discard the tea.
  1. Look for the signs of any insect. If you see something moving in the tea bag or if the tea bag has tiny holes in it, throw it out.

No, drinking expired tea will not make you sick unless it was spoiled. But to be on the safe side, brew your expired tea with water that is at least 175°C hot. Doing this will kill any potential bacteria in the teabag.

How long are tea bags good after the ‘Best by’ date?

The expiration date is not to be confused with the ‘Use by’ or ‘Best by’ dates. Best by date only indicates that the tea bags will brew to their full potential till the best by date. After that date, the quality degradation will be a lot quicker. 

Black tea bags will be good for 2-3 years past their expiration date if you store them properly. Green and herbal tea bags will be good to use for a year or two after the ‘Best by’ date.

Other FAQs about Tea which you may be interested in.

Can tea bags be reused?

Does green tea expire?

No, like other teas, green does not expire. The expiration date is an indicator of safety. Like many teas, green tea comes with a best before date instead of expiry date. To enjoy the peak quality of green tea, it is recommended to drink green tea within 6 months of its printed date. 

The typically available time frame before the best-by date on most green tea packages is about 12-36 months. This applies to both green tea leaves and green tea bags. This shelf-life becomes much shorter If the tea is stored improperly. 

Green tea is enjoyed because of its freshness and remarkable health benefits. Therefore, It is not recommended to drink green tea past the expiry as It won’t provide the same refreshing experience and health benefits. Typically, It is recommended to discard green tea that is past 2 years of the printed date. 

Green tea bags or tea leaves, which expire faster?

Loose green tea lasts longer than store-bought green tea bags. The higher amount of dust or fannings in the tea bags makes it lose its flavor and tannins rapidly due to a large surface area. 

This is also true for matcha tea powder, which should be consumed within 1-2 months. Large and intact leaves of green tea will inevitably last longer than fine green tea leaves.

Can out-of-date green tea make you sick?

No, out-of-date green tea won’t make you sick. It just won’t be as flavorful as It was before the expiry. However, If you decide to drink this old green tea, follow the steps below to ensure safety.

  • When brewing tea, the temperature of the water should be at least 175°. Hold the tea at this temperature for at least 5 minutes to kill all the harmful bacteria If any.
  • Brewed tea should not be stored for more than 8 hours. Keep the green tea stored in the fridge within this time frame.
  • Using hot tap water or sunlight for brewing tea is not recommended. It won’t ensure safety because the water would never reach the safe minimum temperature.


In this article, we answered the question “Can tea bags expire?”, and how to tell If the tea is bad?


Hello, I'm Sana Ameer. I'm a student of Food Science and Technology at UVAS. I like to bake and I aspire to become a Food blogger.