Can you freeze brewed tea?
In this article, we will answer the question “Can you freeze brewed tea?” and discuss how long does brewed tea last? Drinking tea is associated with several health benefits, especially due to the presence of antioxidants in this beloved drink.
Can you freeze brewed tea?
Yes, you can freeze brewed tea. Freezing is a safe method to preserve any type of foods and drinks. Tea is an aromatic beverage intended to be consumed fresh. However, if you need to store brewed tea, freezing is recommended, as it is the most effective method to maintain the original quality of foods (1).
The degradation rate of antioxidant compounds in brewed tea increases significantly with storage at higher temperatures. Studies have demonstrated that catechins, which are flavonols with potent antioxidant properties, degrade during six months of storage at 4°C. Additionally, the presence of oxygen and metal ions can also impact catechin stability.
Green tea is rich in tea catechins, which are considered major nutraceutical compounds due to their potent antioxidant properties (2). It is recommended to store brewed tea drinks in cold temperatures, free from air and not to use metal bottles. Therefore, freezing brewed tea could effectively extend the shelf life of tea while maintaining its positive health attributes.
What is the shelf life of brewed tea?
At room temperature, the shelf life of tea is 72 hours, according to studies. In the case of tea stored under refrigeration, a shelf life of 6 months is mentioned in scientific studies. The shelf life of frozen brewed tea can only be estimated, as no specific study has been conducted on frozen storage of brewed tea.
Meanwhile, it has been reported in studies that green tea catechins were relatively stable during freezing and frozen storage at -20°C for 9 months (2). However, as explained below, the shelf life of brewed tea depends on various factors.
Studies showed that there were no significant changes in the catechins of tea during 6 months of stores at refrigerated temperatures. However, the shelf life of brewed tea depends essentially on the pH value of the drink, the brewing conditions (temperature of water, brewing time, hygiene practices), and the initial microbial load of the tea leaves (2). Therefore, the shelf life may be only estimated.
Can brewed tea go bad when stored in the refrigerator?
Yes, brewed tea can go bad when stored in the refrigerator. Tea leaves naturally contain pathogenic bacteria, and the temperature at which tea is typically brewed may not be sufficient to destroy these bacteria. When tea is brewed at low temperatures, there may not be a significant reduction in the microbial load present in the resulting beverage, which could lead to a shorter shelf life.
Certain compounds in tea are known to have inhibitory properties that can prevent the growth of pathogens. If these compounds are present in sufficient amounts, the survival of bacteria during storage and subsequent brewing may not necessarily lead to further growth in the prepared tea. Nevertheless, studies have shown that microorganisms can survive in brewed tea during cold storage (3).
Therefore, storing brewed tea is the best option for extended periods of storage.
Is it a good option to store tea in the freezer?
Yes, storing tea in the freezer is a good option. Freezing one of the most effective methods for preserving foods and beverages over long periods. When done correctly, freezing can help to retain the original flavor, color, and nutritional value of food (4).
Freezing is also highly applied for controlling microbiological spoilage in food, as it effectively halts the activity of microorganisms for extended periods, particularly when temperatures are maintained below -10°C. However, certain microorganisms, like other biological systems, can survive the freezing process and retain their ability to multiply when conditions become more favorable, that is, during thawing. This means that while freezing can control spoilage for an indefinite period of time, it is not a method for the elimination of microorganisms from foods or drinks (1).
How to freeze brewed tea and thaw frozen brewed tea?
To freeze brewed tea, it is recommended to cool it down to room temperature before transferring it to an airtight container or ice cube trays. It is also recommended to remove as much air as possible from the container to prevent freezer burn.
To thaw frozen brewed tea, it is recommended to do so slowly in the refrigerator or at room temperature. It is important to note that the quality of the tea may be affected by the freezing and thawing process, so it may not taste as fresh as freshly brewed tea.
To reheat brewed tea, use the microwave. The time needed to reheat drinks in the microwave is shorter, which results in the best preservation of nutrients, aroma compounds and vitamins that would otherwise be degraded and lost as a result of boiling of beverages (8).
Can the flavor of brewed tea be altered by freezing and thawing?
Yes, freezing and subsequent thawing of brewed tea can alter its flavor and nutritional properties. Color, flavor and aroma of beverages can be significantly affected by freezing and thawing processes.
It is known that oxidation reactions which lead to the loss of vitamins and antioxidants compounds decelerate during frozen storage when compared to refrigeration. However, these reactions do not halt. Tea is appreciated not only because of its pleasant aroma, but also because of its positive effects on health, attributed to its phenolic compounds, among others. Similar to fruit juices that are kept frozen for long periods, tea also loses its antioxidant properties, although to a lesser extent than when it is not frozen (9).
Other FAQs about Tea that you may be interested in.
In this article, we answered the question “Can you freeze brewed tea?” and we discussed how long does brewed tea last?
- Berry, Mark, et al. Effects of freezing on nutritional and microbiological properties of foods. Frozen food science and technology. 2008.
- Ananingsih, Victoria K., Amber Sharma, and Weibiao Zhou. Green tea catechins during food processing and storage: A review on stability and detection. Food res int, 2013, 50, 469-479.
- Keller, Susanne E., et al. Survival of Salmonella on chamomile, peppermint, and green tea during storage and subsequent survival or growth following tea brewing. J Food Protec, 2015, 78, 661-667.
- Taoukis, Petros S., Theodore P. Labuza, and I. Sam Saguy. Kinetics of food deterioration and shelf-life prediction. The Editors. 1997.
- Lee, Jeehyun, and Delores H. Chambers. Flavors of green tea change little during storage. J sens stud, 2010, 25, 512-520.
- Friedman, Mendel, et al. Stability of green tea catechins in commercial tea leaves during storage for 6 months. J food sci, 2009, 74, H47-H51.
- Kosińska, Agnieszka, and Wilfried Andlauer. Antioxidant capacity of tea: effect of processing and storage. Processing and impact on antioxidants in beverages. Academic Press, 2014. 109-120.
- Lima, Fabiana, et al. Effects of radiation technologies on food nutritional quality. Descriptive food science 1, 2018, 17.
- Park, Yong Seo, et al. The effects of treatment on quality parameters of smoothie-type ‘Hayward’kiwi fruit beverages. Food Control, 2016, 70, 221-228.