Can tea go bad and make you sick? (+3 Ways to tell)

In this article, we will answer the question “Can tea go bad and make you sick?”, and how to tell If the tea has spoiled?

Can tea go bad and make you sick?

Yes, tea can go bad but It won’t necessarily make you sick unless It is moldy. The worst that could happen after drinking bad tea is stomach pain and a bad mouth taste. 

Bad tea has a poor nutritional profile and tastes stale and flat due to the degradation that occurred as a result of its exposure to moisture and oxygen over time. 

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. If you are not going to consume immediately after brewing, store it in the refrigerator, no more than 8 hours.

Can tea bags go bad? 

Yes, tea bags can go bad 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.

The shelf life of different types of tea

The shelf life of tea varies with the type of tea namely black, white, green, and oolong tea. All these types of tea are derived from the same plant i.e Camellia sinensis but differ in their processing. 

Some are oxidized/fermented while others are not. The more oxidized and unbroken the leaves are, the longer will be their shelf life.

Green Tea

Green tea will stay fresh from 6 months to 1 year after its purchase. This tea is not fermented, hence a shorter shelf life.

Black Tea

Fermented teas like black will stay aromatic for 2-3 years if stored in the right conditions.

Oolong tea 

A lightly oxidized unopened oolong tea pack will last up to 5 years. If opened frequently, shelf life reduces.

White Tea

White tea is cherished for its medicinal properties and is expensive than other types. It is recommended to use white tea within 2 years of its purchase.

Other FAQs about Tea which you may be interested in.

Can tea cause stomach pain?

Storage of Tea

  1. Always store your tea in a cool place or at room temperature. Keep it away from the stovetop and sunlight. Heat can damage its flavor.
  1. Keep your tea in a sealed package or an airtight container. Do not let it come in contact with air frequently. Air will remove the volatile compounds of tea and deprive it of its aroma and flavor.
  1. Keep your tea container in a dark place preferably in a cabin.
  1. Do not let water get into your tea pack. Avoid using wet spoons to take tea.
  1. Do not store the tea in the fridge or freezer unless you are not going to use it for a long time after the purchase. The container or pack to store it in the fridge or freezer should be vacuum packed or else the humidity will destroy its quality.

How to tell if the tea has spoiled?

  • If the tea is past its expiration date, then it is likely the tea has lost most of its flavor and aroma. 
  • If the black tea turns grey or the green tea turns yellowish and loses its overall vibrancy, then the tea is of no use. 
  • Give it a sniff and If you smell no odor, throw it if you want. Brew yourself a cup of tea, you will notice that the tea will not impart color, will have no pleasant odor, and will taste bland and dull.

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 own 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 quickly lose their flavor and aroma. If necessary, always use in freezer bags and squeeze out all air from the bag.


In this article, we answered the question “Can tea go bad and make you sick?”, and how to tell If the tea has spoiled?


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