Can you drink old tea?

In this brief guide, we are going to answer the question “can you drink old tea” with an in-depth analysis of whether or not you can drink old tea and the health implications of drinking old tea. Moreover, we are going to discuss different ways to use old tea. 

Can you drink old tea?

You can drink old tea as long as it was properly preserved and there are no signs of spoilage. Drinking old tea won’t make you sick. But if you spot a mold on your tea then it is better to discard such tea.

You can reheat tea as long as it was refrigerated properly or hasn’t been out of the refrigerator for more than 2 hours.

It is worth noting that the “best by” or “best before” date, rather than the expiration date, is stated on the bag of tea, and this date pertains to quality rather than safety, ensuring that the tea does not go bad quickly after the best before date.

This date relates to the time when you can enjoy the best quality and flavor of tea, but you can still use tea that is past this date as long as it was stored properly, there is no hole in the pack, and there are no symptoms of rotting.

How do storage conditions affect the shelf life of tea?

The way you have stored your tea also impacts whether or not it is still safe to consume. 

For instance, dry tea that is properly stored in air-tight dark containers in a cool, dry, and dark corner of the pantry away from direct sunlight and heat can stay good for about 2-3 years.

It is worth mentioning that you should never store your dry tea, irrespective of whether it is green tea or black tea, in the refrigerator. The reason behind this is that the moisture content of the fridge is high and if this moisture finds its way to your tea, it will make it stale. Therefore you should never store tea in the fridge. The same holds the truth for a freezer and freezing the dry tea is also not something that we recommend.

But once the tea is brewed, you can refrigerate it in an air-tight bottle or container.

What is the recommended relative humidity for storing tea leaves?

Moisture in the surroundings or humidity is an important factor for the growth of microorganisms. The decreased humidity prevents the growth and survival of the bacteria on tea leaves. You can keep your tea safe from any kind of small living entity by storing them at a relative humidity between 50% and 60%.

You can read more about humidity and temperature here.

What are the health implications of drinking old tea?

Old tea has lost its flavor, aroma, color, and overall quality. So we can say that the tea expires when it loses its flavor and aroma but as long as your tea does not have any mold or other organic growth present on it, you can consume it and it won’t harm you but certainly, it won’t provide you with the same flavor and aroma as that of the fresh tea.

How to spot bad tea?

Certain indicators point out spoiled tea, therefore you should consider the appearance, taste, and smell of your tea to reach a final verdict whether it is still suitable to consume or if it has gone bad.

  1. If you spot a mold or any other organic growth in your tea, then the best thing you can do is to get rid of this tea as it is an indication of bad tea.
  1. You can also observe the tea for the presence of bugs and if you spot bugs or weevils, it is better to toss out such tea.
  1. If you smell something pungent or unpleasant while taking a sniff test then it is an indication that the tea has gone bad and the best thing to do is to discard it.
  1. If the tea has passed the visual and smell test, then you can go ahead and taste it. Spoiled tea will have a sour taste. If you find any of the above signs, discard the tea. 

Different ways to use old tea

You may still utilize old tea for a variety of other things. However, make certain that the tea does not show any symptoms of deterioration.

As compost

You may use the tea as compost in your soil because it helps to break down the materials in the soil and enrich it. It can also be used as a natural fertilizer by simply sprinkling the tea in your garden.

Treat burns

Tea can also be used to treat burns and scrapes. When the hair is cleaned with tea, it avoids itchy and irritated scalp problems. 

As odor absorber

The tea may also be used as a scent cutter, and you can use it to decrease odors by placing it in any smelly area or shoes.

Antimicrobial

Furthermore, the tea has excellent antimicrobial characteristics and can be used in a variety of ways.

Tips to properly store tea

  1. When it comes to the unopened package of tea, you can store it in a cool, dry, and dark place away from direct sunlight and heat. It means that you can easily store the unopened box of tea in a dry corner of your pantry or kitchen cabinet.
  1. In the case of open tea, it is recommended to store your tea in an air-tight container or air-tight plastic zipper bag and store it in a cool, dry, and dark corner of your pantry or kitchen cabinet to preserve its freshness for a long time. You should never store your tea in a humid environment as humidity is the enemy of the delicate flavors of tea and it can even spoil your tea (if tea is stored for too long in a humid environment and that too uncovered).
  1. The quality of tea can degrade with the fluctuations in temperature. Therefore not only should you store tea at room temperature but you should also make sure that you are not storing it near a heater or an air-conditioner.
  1. Tea can pick up smells and that is another reason why we advised you to store your open tea or tea in an air-tight container or resealable plastic zipper bag. Moreover, you should always try to store your tea away from strong-smelling foods like garlic and onion.
  1. UV radiations present in the sunlight can also mess up the delicate flavors of tea, therefore it is recommended that once you open your tea pack, store the rest of the tea in a tinted or colored air-tight container. The reason behind using a tinted or colored container is that the sunlight won’t be able to penetrate it, thereby the quality of tea will be preserved for a long time.
  1. In the case of dry tea, never use a wet spoon to scoop out tea. Moreover, you should close the lid of the container in which you stored tea as soon as you are done scooping out the tea that you needed.

Conclusion

In this brief guide, we answered the question “can you drink old tea” with an in-depth analysis of whether or not you can drink old tea and the health implications of drinking old tea. Moreover, we discussed different ways to use old tea. 

Citations

https://www.maduratea.com.au/_c/faq/tea-expire-safe-drink-tea-expired/#:~:text=If%20the%20tea%20has%20been,is%20suspected%20please%20discard%20immediately.
https://teasteeping.com/safe-to-drink-expired-tea/v

Mahnoor Asghar is a Clinical Nutritionist with a bachelor's degree in Nutrition and Dietetics. She is compassionate and dedicated to playing her part in the well-being of the masses. She wants to play a fruitful role in creating nutrition and health-related awareness among the general public. Additionally, she has a keen eye for detail and loves to create content related to food, nutrition, health, and wellness.